Minnesota State Parks and Trails

North Shore Waterfall Tour – Weekend Itinerary


  • Rushing rapids and waterfalls
    along the North Shore of Lake Superior
  • Jay Cooke State Park
  • Tettegouche State Park
  • Gooseberry Falls State Park

Great for:

  • Families, friends
  • Photographers


River fog within Jay Cooke State Park State.

Fog and mist shroud the cascading river landscape in Jay Cooke State Park State.


Spend a spring weekend exploring the melting rivers of the North Shore of three Minnesota State Parks.

North Shore safety tips:

Day One: Morning

12 p.m.  Arrive at Jay Cooke State Park and stay overnight.

Note: Stay one night at Jay Cooke and one night at Gooseberry Falls, or two nights at Jay Cooke State Park.

Reservations for Jay Cooke State Park

The park offers several opportunities for overnight stays. Within the campground there are heated camper cabins, electric and non-electric campsites or walk-in sites. There are also backpack campsites that are a 2-3 mile hike in. Make a reservation!

Jay Cooke State Park State features a historic swinging bridge.

A swinging bridge spans the St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park.

Park at the River Inn Visitor Area

Bring a picnic

Viewing the rapids

The St. Louis River cascades over ancient slanted rocks to create dramatic rapids and small waterfalls. These rapids can be viewed several ways around the park.

Angular river rock formations in Jay Cooke State Park. Coffee colored water cascading down rock formations in Jay Cooke State Park.

St Louis River rapids.

Turbulent cascades churn coffee-colored water. 

Short stop options:  

Longer stop option:

Other things to do:

Come back again:

Day Two: Morning

Travel to Tettegouche State Park (approximately 2 hrs).

Route Suggestion:

Day Two: Late Morning

Arrive at Tettegouche State Park.

View of the High Falls in Tettegouche State Park.

Tettegouche State Park features many spectacular views of the falls.

Short stop options:

The Cascades Trail (1.5 miles)

Shovel Point Trail (1.2 miles)

Longer stop option:

High Falls (3 miles)

The High Falls of Tettegouche State Park offer a spectacular backdrop for a wild rose/

Other things to do:

Come back again:

Don't Miss: Palisade Head stop on way to Gooseberry Falls State Park – Look for the Palisade Head parking lot and road about 1.5 miles southwest of Tettegouche State Park.

Day Two: Late Afternoon

Travel to Gooseberry Falls State Park, overnight stay (30 minute travel time) Learn more about Gooseberry Falls State Park

Reservations for Gooseberry Falls State Park

Checking into your campsite

Day Two: Evening Options

Gooseberry Falls State Park State features a series of falls to enjoy.

Expanses of rocky ledges frame the plunging Gooseberry River as it races over falls toward Lake Superior within Gooseberry State Park. 

Day Three: Viewing the Waterfalls

Gooseberry River travels three miles through the park, over five waterfalls and many rapids in which the water drops 240 feet down to Lake Superior.

Day Three: Morning

Short stop options:

Longer stop options:

Fifth Falls Trail (2-mile loop)

  • Hilly
  • Gravel
  • Boardwalks
  • Travel this rugged path up the river to the Fifth Falls and back. Stop to watch the river go by, look for caves, or view CCC features along the way.

River View Trail (2.5-mile loop)

  • Hilly
  • Gravel
  • Boardwalks
  • Walk up to the falls from the campground, Start at the falls and travel downstream to the river mouth and Picnic Flow Area along the lake.
Visitors enjoy a view of Gooseberry Falls.

The Gooseberry River offer a visitor many views of the falls to choose from.

Come back again:


Stop in the Joseph Alexander Visitor Center to gift shop, bird watch or enjoy the view of Lake Superior and Gooseberry River. The Department of Transportation rest area is open from 8am to 9pm daily. Wander through the building to view exhibits and watch a short movie about the park in the theater.

Day Three: Noon – Depart for Home