Best 9 'Must See' Waterfalls on Minnesota's North Shore - Your Cabin Getaway at Tofte Trails

April 25, 2024
Must See in Minnesota

Waterfalls on the North Shore are not to be missed! If you have yet to experience the magic and power of the falls on Minnesota's North Shore, you are going to want to add it to your bucket list and book a cabin now to feel, smell and watch the exhilarating rush & power of mighty Mother Nature as the snow from inland is melting. Don’t miss Minnesota’s largest waterfall in Grand Portage and explore countless of pop-up waterfalls along hwy 61 and beyond. The drive up along Lake Superior is a treat in and of itself. 

Spring outdoor adventures include less crowds and of course, less bugs! Spring on the North Shore has has endless fishing, kayaking/canoeing (rent from Sawtooth Outfitters just a few minutes from Tofte Trails) biking (access the Gitchi Gami paved trail from your cabin and we are also next to world class Mountain Bike Trails!), golf, sauna, massage, hiking trails, wildlife, birding and so much more! 

Here are a few of our top waterfalls during your Spring Getaway at Tofte Trails: 

1)  Gooseberry Falls State Park:

It’s a 4-for-1 waterfall stop at Gooseberry Falls State Park! Paved, accessible trails lead 1/10 mile from the visitor center to the most photographed of the falls, the expansive Middle Falls. The paved trails continue north under Highway 61 to a lovely view of the scenic Upper Falls. This wonderful little loop is a half mile total from the visitor center and back. The Riverview Trail heads south from the Middle Falls past the Lower Falls to the mouth of the Gooseberry River and Lake Superior. This can be the perfect stop to stretch your legs any time of year and especially in the Spring with the additional run off from the snow melt.

Gooseberry Falls State Park

2)  Caribou Falls:

Caribou Falls is one of the most picturesque waterfalls on the shore and it's definitely one to add to your list! From the wayside rest follow the spur trail [at the first bench, continue to follow the spur]. The trail climbs about 100-feet in a half mile before making a 90-degree turn to multiple flights of stairs [~150 in all]. A right hand turn after the first few flights opens to a cedar- and pine-framed view of the falls. It becomes more and more impressive as you get closer, and the gray basalt outcroppings create a gorgeous and natural frame to the 35-foot falls.

Caribou Falls

3)  Stair Step Falls of Onion River: 

Only a couple minute drive from us! Park at the Ray Berglund State Wayside parking lot and climb the wooden steps to hike above the river to view the cascades near the river mouth then continue another 1/2 mile to see the Stair Step Falls. Can only be seen before the trees leaf out and is best in the Spring when the river rushes! We also love this hike during the Summer and we walk down to the river to cool off and have a picnic in the cool, fresh water. 

Stair Step Falls at Onion River

4) Upper, Hidden and lower Falls of Temperance River: 

Temperance River has been a must see for many people visiting the North Shore and there is good reason why! It has carved out some of the most stunning gorges over which flow the Upper Falls, Hidden Falls, and Lower Cascades. To watch the Lower Cascades tumble into Lake Superior, follow the short easy loop on the lakeside of the highway [.25 mile total].

Tucked deep into the narrow gap, the river dives into a pool just above the roadside parking. Get a peek there before ascending stone steps to the cliffside overlook. The trail continues riverside over smooth rock outcroppings and through cedar stands to the High Falls. It’s less than 2 miles for all three waterfalls and is another great way to stretch your legs on your drive up the North Shore to Tofte Trails.

Temperance River Waterfall Spring

5)  Cross River Falls - Temperance 

You can’t miss this classic falls, Highway 61 rolls right by! Take advantage of handy and easy pedestrian bridges for beautiful vantage points of the 100′ falls as they roll down and under the roadway before making the final drop on the south side of the bridge.

6)  Cascade Falls: 

We love cascade Falls and it is a just a short drive from Tofte Trails. We also love to grab lunch at the local and lovely Cascade restaurant inside or on their patio on a nice day. Ten miles above Highway 61 Cascade River begins its descent to Lake Superior. Dropping 900 feet in the lower three miles, the river takes a steep final run in the last quarter mile as it drops 120 feet through a deep, churning gorge. See the Cascade Falls and cascades on an easy loop that includes overlooks and a foot bridge with excellent views of the falls. The loop that includes the falls, cascades and bridge over the river is about 1/2 mile; you can extend your hike on either side of the river.

7)  Devil's Kettle

Judge Magney State Park’s claim to fame is the Devil’s Kettle. Rumored to have no bottom this watery cauldron is constantly turning and frothing. The hike up treats you to excellent vantage points of the Lower Falls before leading to where the river course splits. About half of the river’s water flow runs over the grand Upper Falls while the other disappears into the Devil’s Kettle. The river rushes in the spring, but to get the best perspective of the Devil’s kettle, plan a summer or autumn visit. Plan on 100+ stairs each way; about 2 ¼ miles total.

Devils Kettle: A short hike on the Brule River leads to this cascade over volcanic rock that splits into 2 pools.

8)  High Falls on Pigeon River:

On the US/Canadian border, the Pigeon River drops 950 feet ending with the 120-foot drop High Falls, the highest you will find on the North Shore. This lower reach is particularly rugged until a short distance after the falls, where the river widens. An easy half-mile trail in Grand Portage State Park leads to the High Falls. The trail ends with two great viewing decks where you can feel the spray of the falls!

High Falls at Pigeon River is Minnesota's tallest waterfall (technically sharing the border with Canada)

9)  Kadunce Wayside State Park

We love this hike and these gushing, roaring waterfalls which carved deep gorges beneath the towering pines and cedar trees all next to the lovely hiking trail. Grab lunch in Grand Marais at Fisherman's Daughter or Hungry Hippie Tacos and of course an extra coffee or tea at Java Moose Coffee before heading up 61 towards the parking area for Kadunce. Park on the right side of 61 and explore the beautiful beach on Lake Superior, skip some rocks and then head across 61 to start your hike up the trail with the gorgeous water flowing and gushing through the gorges along your hike to the right. End your hike at the footbridge or continue onward via the Superior hiking trail.

Kadunce River flowing from the footbridge before it hits the stunning and deep gorges you can see from the trail.

We cannot wait to host you at Tofte Trails and have you experience the magic of our property, the drive up, Lake Superior, Superior National forest and all the magical places to explore during your getaway with us.

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