Tettegouche State Park: A Lake Superior Wanderland
Tettegouche State Park sits on the northwestern coast of Lake Superior in one of the most picturesque and beautiful locations in the Upper Midwest. This park provides opportunities for every kind of explorer, from those who would prefer to opt out of the hiking and simply take in the scenic views, to those who would like to spend the day discovering the waterfalls, lakes, and many miles of trails. In this article, we will highlight the areas of the park near the waterfalls, and we will offer you some tips on how to best prepare for your visit.
In total, the park is home to 23 miles of hiking trails with a significant amount of ascending and descending up and down the trails and staircases. Yes, we said stairs. Lots of them. In addition to the trails within the park, about 12 miles of the Superior Hiking Trail also pass through Tettegouche. This means that hikers have tons of trail choices and loops to choose from, which is awesome! We know that this can also be a bit intimidating for newer explorers. One of the nice things about this park is that it's well-maintained, and the main trails have plenty of foot traffic. While hiking on the trails near the waterfalls, if you had an issue or felt lost and needed some help, someone would likely be around soon to offer you a hand.
One thing we did not expect to encounter along the trail were the many, many stairs. If you love stairs, this is the place for you! Our personal preference is to hike on a dirt trail, and grade change along the trail is an exciting part of the challenge and experience. We are not lovers of stairs. With that being said, it was a great workout, and we were very pleased with our experience. There were some parts of the trail where we found the option to walk on a dirt path next to the stairs, so if this is more your style as well, you will have that option for part of your hike.
Our summer afternoon of wandering took us along the main paths to the swinging suspension bridge and to two of the waterfalls. The bridge hangs over the super clear water of the Baptism River. The bridge sits just above the first waterfall visitors encounter along their hike.
A view of the swinging bridge. Copyright hiking mojo.
Explorers cross over the bridge and almost immediately encounter the first waterfall, High Falls. It's tall and beautiful. Mist fills the air. The roar of the falling water is worth closing your eyes and taking a moment to appreciate the sound. The stairway path takes you down to the base of the falls and the river where you can enjoy the view, or even a dip in the water.
The view from the base of High Falls. Copyright hiking mojo.
After hiking down to the base of the falls and back up to the trail, we headed towards the second waterfall, Two Step Falls, which is about a half-mile up the trail. We encountered fewer people on this part of the trail, which was nice, as we prefer to hike trails less traveled by others. You should expect to climb down approximately 150 stairs to reach the falls, and then expect to climb back up! It's a nice workout, and you can rest at the base of the falls and take in the awesome scenery.
Two Step Falls at Tettegouche. Copyright hiking mojo.
After snapping some photos and taking a break, we headed back the way we came. There is a third waterfall along the same trail, and there are many more miles of trails and loops to be discovered. We saw a variety of people on the trails - from younger to older, and from fit to not-so-fit. What we did not see were any facilities along the way, so keep that in mind.
The key to enjoying this hike, no matter your age or fitness level, is to bring lots of water, wear plenty of bug spray (humidity + more water = lots of mosquitos), and plan ahead for your restroom needs. Allow yourself plenty of time to explore the park, and take breaks as often as necessary so you can feel confident in your ability to conquer the stairs.
For more information about the park, visit the Tettegouche State Park website.
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