By Jim Umhoefer
Cook County. 1 mile northeast of Schroeder on Highway 61. Highway map index: P-7.
The Temperance River got its name because it has no "bar" at its mouth. The lower river, preserved in Temperance River State Park, tumbles past some curious rock formations on its restless path to Lake Superior. Over the centuries, swirling sands and pebbles in the churning water have carved potholes into the lava rock formations. The potholes vary in size and some are still being enlarged.
Large parking areas by Highway 61 make it easy for visitors to stop and observe the tumultuous river as it tumbles toward lake Superior. A short trail leads down to a footbridge across the rocky gorge that hems in the cascading river. After heavy rains, the water churns violently through the narrow gorge, as if gathering strength for its fruitless struggle against the mass of Lake Superior. You can see the river's outline far out into the lake before it fades into the great water.
Across Highway 61, a trail winds upstream toward Hidden Falls. When you come to a long, quiet pool in the river, stop and listen for the sound of falling water. As you follow the sound, you'll come to a deep, narrow chasm that is wider on the bottom than it is on top. The wild water (especially after storms) that spills through here is still cutting and shaping the gorge.
Temperance River State Park, though small (about 200 acres), has more than eight miles of hiking trails. The most scenic ones follow the ravine through a dense coniferous forest. While hiking on these paths, you'll be able to see some old potholes, marking the route of the river during a time when it was much broader than it is now. From the park's boundary, you can continue on federal trails through the neighboring Superior National Forest.