Cascade River State Park

Cascade River State Park is named after the series of waterfalls the Cascade River takes on its way into Lake Superior and it’s a favorite with hikers and cross country skiers. It’s located nine miles southwest of Grand Marais on the North Shore Scenic Byway in Minnesota’s Cook County. Read more …


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Hiking along the 18-mile hiking 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. Some park trails climb into the Sawtooth Mountains, entering the Superior National Forest. By arrangement with the U.S. Forest Service, these trails lead to the top of Lookout Mountain, Moose Mountain and another bluff-top overlook. Along some of the trails, you’ll be treated to broad vistas of Lake Superior. Other paths afford views of the inland bluffs.

Read about running Cascade River’s trails: A Runner’s Guide to Minnesota’s North Shore.

One of the five backpack campsites in the park and the surrounding forest is along the shore of Lake Superior on the park’s north end. The main campground has 40 semi-modern campsites. Cascade River also maintains two group camps.
Plants and Wildlife
The North Shore area has an almost endless variety of wildflower habitats like bogs, marshes, coniferous forest, deciduous woods and rocky ledges. In the park, springtime wildflowers include bird’s-eye primrose and starflowers. Others, like moccasin flowers orchids and touch-me-nots, also show off their brightly colored blossoms, a product of long days and cool nights.

The 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 yard, 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. A park sign describes the Cascade River as flowing “through 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.

It’s easy to keep warm during the winter around Cascade River State Park. The park’s 17 miles of cross-country ski trails are designed for all abilities and link with others in the area. Snowshoeing and hiking are the best ways to see the wintry lower Cascade River gorge. The gorge’s beauty is particularly striking when the tenacious ice stills the falls in a severe winter.
More about skiing in the Tofte/Lutsen area

Cascade Falls in the winter

Lake Superior at the mouth of the Cascade River

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