Tettegouche is the park to visit along the North Shore. If you have to choose just one park to visit in northern Minnesota, this would be it. It has it all! Overlooks, waterfalls, rugged trails, shorelines and rivers. This park is hard to beat.
Quick Review: 11/10 Tettegouche receives a perfect score plus one for it’s amazing views, splendid waterfalls, well maintained trails, and great shoreline adventure. The bonus point is awarded for saving our skins on an accidental trip to the park on a failed BWCA trip.
The hiking trails in total at Tettegouche spans 23 miles. The trails in Tettegouche are all rated as moderate to difficult, and with the inclines and rocky terrain, I can’t disagree. Be sure to bring plenty of water along and a map. The trails are well marked, but it is nice to have map along that indicates any turnoffs for a shorter route back if any in your party tire quickly.
We had a great time watching our 6 year old daughter tackle these trails. She did great and lead the way on many of them. There was a point when she needed to go potty and we were about a half mile out from the trailhead. We ran the remainder of the trail, I was amazed at her speed and agility on this rugged northern trail. In hindsight, I don’t know why I didn’t just take the opportunity to teach her how to pee in the woods. A lesson for another time I guess.
Tettegouche is home to 4 waterfalls and each one is a beauty! The falls are all along the Baptism River. Two can be hiked together, the remaining two require a drive to a separate parking area.
Illgen Falls: Illgen Falls is located near the Illgen Falls Cabin. This cabin is available for rent year-round and can hold up to 6 people. Visitors are responsible for cleaning up after their stay. The falls is just a short hike away from the cabin and is the farthest from Lake Superior in Tettegouche.
High & Two Step Falls: High Falls is a staggering 60 foot waterfall that earns it’s name with that big drop. These falls can be accessed by following the hiking trail along the Baptism River from the Baptism River campground. The trail will merge with the Superior Hiking Trail, take a right, then there is a swinging bridge to cross the river at the falls. Enjoy this view before continuing on the trail, keeping right at the fork will bring you to a staircase that descends to the Two Step Falls. Simply retrace your steps back the parking area when done admiring the falls.
The hiking distance in total is just under two miles. The terrain would be considered difficult with steep steps.
Cascade Falls: Cascade Falls is the closest falls to Lake Superior in Tettegouche. This falls in not on the same trail as the High and Two-Step Falls. Cascade has it’s own Cascade Falls Trail to follow. The parking area for this falls is passed the visitors center on the south side of the river.
This moderate trail is about a mile and a half long. It is an out and back, no loop here.
A truly unique find in the Northern Minnesota state parks, is the twisted trees. They are a whimsical anomaly caused by the hammering winds, gradually twisting the tree as it grows. These trees are a wonder to behold and add a great sense of mystery to the hikes on the edge of Lake Superior. And check out those wicked root systems! These trees have to be so resilient to grow on the rocky terrain.
There are numerous camping opportunities at Tettegouche. While the backpack sites are on a first come, first served basis, the other camping options are reservable. These other options include drive-in sites for RV’s and tent sites that are walk-in or cart-in. Two cabin’s are also available for lodging. This is quite a popular park, so booking your reservation early is a really the only way to secure your stay. We got extremely lucky when we camped here on a failed BWCA trip. For the full catastrophe follow here.
Superior Shores- Rock Skipping
Steep cliffs, river tributaries and a rocky beach are all along the shores of Lake Superior at this park. We enjoyed the hikes, falls, and views, but the most fun we had was on the rocky beach at the inlet of the Baptism River. The rocks were perfect for skipping, we skipped so many rocks on this beach, it was a blast.
Overlook, after overlook, after overlook. The surplus of overlooks at this park is astounding. Even on a foggy day, the overlooks are gorgeous. The fog adds a bit of eerie mystery to this park. Watch your step and be aware of the ledge. There are many areas that have have a significant drop with no guard rails. It’s fantastic to have unobstructed, rugged beauty, but keep the kids in-hand.
Shovel Point: Be sure to check out shovel point, just a half mile or so of a hike from the visitor’s center. This is such an amazing view and getting there is unique too. This is an area where you’ll see a lot of those twisting trees and unique root systems mentioned earlier.
Hazard Warning: The boardwalk areas can be slippery when wet, be sure to wear appropriate footwear with a lot of grip. Not kidding about those drops. Keep those kiddos in hand or very close.
Tettegouche will be getting a repeat visit from us, but the next visit won’t be an accident! Add this park to your to-do list this summer. You won’t regret it!