Autumn’s spectacular display at Grand Superior Lodge pairs well with the impressive natural features in nearby Minnesota State Parks. Gooseberry Falls State Park and George H. Crosby Manitou State Parks feature a kaleidoscope of warm fall colors spreading across the north shore landscape.
Down by the Water
Just down the road from Grand Superior Lodge is Gooseberry Falls State Park, which has the most accessible falls, with wide mouths full of water. Around Lower and Middle Falls, you can find a concentration of birch trees yellowing to match the sun interspersed with the evergreen trees.
You can also walk up the trail toward Upper Falls and then Fifth Falls and beyond. Further up the hills, along the Gooseberry River, deciduous trees will generally increase and bright red maples will become more plentiful.
Moving farther up the North Shore, chase the waterfalls of Tettegouche State Park. It requires a brisk but beautiful hike and will reward you with plenty of autumn shades. The falls are deeper into the area where oaks and maples command the landscape. This is a rugged country with great places to look up into at the orange, yellow, and red forest canopy or down and across the valleys from scenic overlooks.
One particularly colorful vantage point is the swing bridge above High Falls. From here, you are right above the powerful Baptism River, which is churned up into white waves by rocks before it thunders over the falls, eventually feeding into Lake Superior. You can also look down in the valley below, where the water spreads out into a pool and trees spread out on the shore.
After hiking further, you reach the bottom of this valley. Now you can see High Falls from below, and notice the shape of this valley. It is a bit like being at the bottom of a giant soup bowl. While you look toward the falls, you see a wall of stone is wrapped around the valley. There isn’t much growing on these imposing cliffs, but above them, you see the brilliant oranges and fiery reds.
Getting off Scenic 61 in nearby Finland, waiting to be discovered is George Crosby Manitou State Park , a lesser-known park where fall colors are king. Thanks to be intentionally left undeveloped, the hardwoods really control the landscape. There are sections where only a few evergreen trees are scattered among the deciduous trees. The autumn leaves will surround you in their warmly tinted hues on a sunny day.
Benson Lake is a peaceful, pristine, and unpopulated lake surrounded by a good concentration of hardwoods. There are many orange sections with some reds scattered in. As you look higher into the hills there are redder leaves. The lake also has peaceful sections where tall plants grow out of the water.
On the Manitou River there are many spots where the cascading water currents are strong but are balanced out with some places just as equally serene and tranquil while being surrounded by all the brilliant fall colors.
The upper Manitou is another section where the water is calm. Here there is a peaceful little lake ringed by small boulders. Here there are solid patches of pines and thick sections of deciduous trees.
At the park’s Upper Falls, the water rages among the deciduous trees that closely hug the waterfall. While the Upper Falls at Tettegouche go straight down, the water here falls at more of a 45-degree angle along a rock face.
Lower Falls is more gentle but has the same colorful arrangement as Upper and Middle Falls, but also has a pool at its base surrounded by large boulders.
The Manitou Overlook offers the park’s most commanding view of the fall landscape. From this high vantage point, you can look down upon a wide expanse of no buildings and miles of mostly hardwoods. To complete the color scheme, the blue Lake Superior is beyond all this land.
There are many other state parks near Grand Superior Lodge, in which you can enjoy the already beautiful scenery, enhanced by the temporary colors. Fall is a great time to visit the north shore and stay at Grand Superior Lodge.