North Shore Revisited

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Growing a tradition on the great lake.

Words and Photos by Caroline Royce

Growing up in Minnesota means you either have a deep appreciation of Lake Superior or you perhaps take it for granted. I was the latter for much of my life. Most of my interaction with the lake was a by-product of going to Duluth or skiing at Lutsen Mountains. Shortly after we got married in 2014, my husband, Alan, and I went to Munising, Mich., for his sister’s wedding. On our last day we took an afternoon cruise on Superior’s crystal blue waters and I began a great love affair with the lake and the abundant beauty that its coast had to offer. The following spring, for our first anniversary, Alan and I spent it on the lake, going up and down the highway to different state parks. 

Minnesota has eight state parks along the north shore — Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse, Tettegouche, George Crosby Manitou, Temperance River, Cascade River, Judge Magney and Grand Portage. Each of these offer incredible opportunities for hiking and camping, as well as drop-dead vistas of the great lake. Alan and I ventured to the shore for our third anniversary with our then 7-month-old, Alex, and last year we made the trip solo for our fourth. It’s become a sort of tradition. It makes sense, really, having all that wildness so close by. Our preferred lodging in Tofte is about a 4-hour drive from our home in Minneapolis. 

We haven’t yet been able to visit all the parks on the shore. But we also know that the parks aren’t just checkboxes on a sheet of paper — they have to be experienced fully, And the spring is an unexpected but lovely time to experience them. The crowds are low and the water is high. 

I recommend giving yourself time to take a bath in the Superior National Forest, and spend a morning listening to the crashing waves on the basalt shore. 

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Caroline Royce