The Falls of Tettegouche
According to the Duluth News Tribune, the word “Tettegouche” is a French Canadian phrase meaning “meeting place.” Isn’t it fitting that the same group that brought “rendezvous” to Lake Superior brought us another word about getting together?
Tettegouche State Park is about 40 minutes from Caribou Highlands and has four waterfalls that have “gathered together” to meet you on your next vacation. They are always flowing, but the waterfall season of the spring is especially good for a rendezvous with the falls of Tettegouche.
“They are flowing really well now with the rain a couple of weeks ago combined with the snow that is starting to melt again,” said DNR naturalist Kurt Mead. “The water supply is good and cranking at this time.” TETTEGOUCHE STATE PARK
The falls of Tettegouche are the result of the Baptism River hitting a series of drop-offs and having to fall. There are four falls in the park.
Starting at Lake Superior and moving upstream, the first waterfall is Cascade Falls.
“These falls are sort of broad with a big cascade down a rock face,” said Kurt. “A lot of the park staff here say it is their favorite fall in the park.”
These falls are less visited than the popular High Falls. There is just one dead-end trail leading to Cascade Falls. Kurt mentions if you go there, you will often have the whole falls to yourself.
Further up are the Two Steps Falls, which you can access from either side of the Baptism River. Then, you’ll find High Falls.
“The most popular one here is High Falls. That is where most people want to go because it is the highest set of falls completely within the boundaries of the state,” said Kurt.
Kurt mentions there is a friendly rivalry between Tettegouche and Grand Portage. Grand Portage has taller falls but shares the falls with Canada.
The Illgen Falls is the last of the falls of Tettegouche. These need to be accessed from a not-very-well marked parking lot on Highway 1. From here there is a short trail leading to these falls. Like Cascade Falls, they are lesser-known and lesser-visited falls where you can enjoy the waterfall experience more privately.
There are many other falls to be seen along Minnesota’s shore of Lake Superior. Kurt mentions a couple of other ones you can stop at driving to or from Tettegouche. Some are lesser-known.
“Crosby Manitou is one of those parks that a lot of people don’t even know about because it isn’t right on the shore,” said Kurt. “But, it isn’t a very far drive inland. It is really world class land.”
Kurt recommends the Manitou Cascades. Here, the waterfalls at a fairly low angle for a long distance. Looking up from the pool below, the white water goes up, squeezed between rocks and trees and disappears out of sight into the forest.
The Caribou River Wayside is another place on Kurt’s list of places to see waterfalls. You can’t see the falls from the road. You have to hike up the stream a few hundred yards. Here the water flows steeply down a rock face to a large pool below.
There are lots of other waterfalls of various shapes and sizes to visit along the North Shore. The same rock that decorates the whole area doesn’t allow water to make it to the lake without a fight. These rivers must go through sudden drops and raging rapids to reach their meeting place with the lake.