By Jim Umhoefer
Cook County. 9 miles southwest of Grand Marais on Highway 61. Highway map index: Q-7.
The 2,800-acre park and surrounding forests are home to timber wolves and black bears, in addition to moose, but Cascade River is best known for its winter deer herd. Deer gather in the Jonvik deer year, the largest in Minnesota, to find protection from wind and cold and to browse in the North Shore forests of aspen, birch and white cedar. Hiking along the 18-mile trail system, you'll pass through upland forests of spruce, fir and maples. You can get a bird's-eye view of the myriad shades of green that sweep over the surrounding land from the overlooks.
The busiest park trails straddle the Cascade River canyon, leading up to the many waterfalls that tumble toward Lake Superior. The paths are the handiwork of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) of the 1930s. A park sign describes the Cascade River as flowing "though a twisting, rocky gorge in a series of rapids that descends 225 feet in a distance of one mile." The mist that sprays the gorge walls fosters moist colonies of mosses and lichens. Great cedar and fir trees rise like pillars from the rock formations above the river. Read more: