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Gooseberry Falls State Park: Things to See & Do

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Gooseberry Falls State Park (sometimes called Gooseberry State Park) is one of the most popular places in Minnesota to visit. It’s an excellent spot for families and people who like hiking, biking, and camping. There are also several activities in the area that you can do with your family or friends.

You can rent out kayaks at Gooseberry Cove or take a tour of caves nearby. Minnesota’s North Shore area is beautiful year-round, and there’s always something fun to do and lovely to see.

Every year, springtime brings beautiful and serene weather to Lake Superior, making it a hotspot for nature enthusiasts. Camping is extremely popular here, but it’s not for everyone, especially in winter! To find lodging in the area near these parks, visitors can check out nearby Beaver Bay and Silver Bay to the north or Two Harbors to the south.

Highway 61 takes you to Gooseberry Falls State Park, which is nestled on the shore of Lake Superior and visited by thousands each year. Guided tours and hiking trails lead you to Gooseberry Falls State Park, where your Instagram pictures will shine thanks to the waterfalls’ stunning background.

About Gooseberry Falls State Park

FeatureDescription
NameGooseberry Falls State Park
Location3206 Highway 61 East, Two Harbors, MN 55616, USA
ActivitiesHiking, picnicking, fishing, bird watching, photography, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing
Notable FeaturesGooseberry Falls, Gooseberry River, Lake Superior shoreline, Gitchi-Gami State Trail
WildlifeWhite-tailed deer, black bears, various bird species
TrailsOver 20 miles of hiking trails, including easy access to the falls and river views
CampgroundsDrive-in sites, cart-in sites, group campsites, and a campground with electric hookups
FacilitiesVisitor center with interpretive exhibits, gift shop, restrooms, and a theater
AccessibilityAccessible trails and facilities, including the falls viewing area and visitor center
Park HoursOpen year-round, 24 hours a day; visitor center and other facilities have specific hours
Contact InformationFor reservations and information, visitors can contact the park at 218-595-7100 or visit the state park website.

Gooseberry Falls State Park is located in Two Harbors, Minnesota, about 15 miles north of Duluth. It covers about 1,800 acres and has a variety of trails that visitors can enjoy.

The park was established in 1970 and was named after the Gooseberry River, which flows through it. The notable rocks the park is known for were formed by glaciers and primarily consisted of granite, gneiss, and schist.

In addition to being known for its beautiful scenery, Gooseberry Falls State Park is known for its history as an industrial center during World War II when it provided iron ore for American shipbuilding efforts between 1940 and 1945.

See Related: Things to Do in North Shore, Minnesota

Before you explore Gooseberry Falls State Park

Hit up Joseph N. Alexander Visitor Center

The park’s visitors center is one of the best places to start when planning your day. The building is at the main entrance to Gooseberry Falls State Park in Two Harbors, Minnesota. It’s open from 9:00 am-5:00 p.m. during summer and 8:00 am-4:30 pm during winter.

This is an exceedingly nice visitor center that contains fantastic exhibits about the geology and history of the area.

This includes information and interpretive displays about Native American tribes that once inhabited this land and led a nomadic lifestyle as hunters and gatherers who followed migrating wildlife along seasonal food sources such as blackberries, raspberries, and gooseberries—hence the name given by French traders in 1883! They also have a fantastic gift shop for souvenirs.

If you want to get out into nature while visiting Gooseberry Falls State Park, there are many options available at its four entrances: North Shore Road (off State Highway 61), South Shore Road (off Highway 61), Norwood Trailhead (off County Road 443) or Skyline Trailhead (off County Road 444).

See Related: Best Lakes in Minnesota (Ranked!)

Gooseberry Falls State Park Camping

Gooseberry Falls State Park

When it comes to staying in the area, many visitors choose to camp, especially in the summer months. Camping is available year-round, with RV and trailer parking available.

There are 70 campsites available at Gooseberry Falls State Park. These sites feature a picnic table, fire ring, lantern post, and grills. Campers can access restrooms with showers, drinking water on site, garbage cans/dumpsters, recycling stations, and a playground nearby.

The campground is near the Gitchi Gami State Trail, where you can bike or hike along Lake Superior’s shoreline for miles! Snowshoeing opportunities are also abundant here during the winter months, as well as ice fishing in nearby lakes.

Parking for RVs and trailers

If you’re bringing your RV or trailer to Gooseberry Falls, don’t worry. There’s a dedicated parking lot for those with large vehicles. The Gooseberry Falls State Park campground has two spots designated for RVs and trailers—and they’re free.

Another option is to park at the Visitor Center. This might be better if you plan on visiting other attractions in the area since it’s closer to local population centers.

See Related: Things to Do in Bloomington, Minnesota

Things to Do at Gooseberry Falls State Park

If you want to take on the Gooseberry River and its amazing park. Aside from admiring the namesake falls, here are some of the best things to do.

Hiking and Biking 

Image of Guys biking

If you visit Gooseberry Falls State Park, don’t just stick to gawking at its waterfalls—the park has plenty of other activities for you. For example, biking and hiking trails offer chances to explore nature without getting too wet!

If visiting in winter, you can go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing to enjoy the park’s scenic views. There are also some historical structures and log homes within its boundaries—quite interesting and great for a few snaps!

Bike riders will enjoy a 2.5-mile ride on the Gitchi-Gami State Trail from Gooseberry Falls into Two Harbors. The paving makes it easy for beginners and experts alike to enjoy this trip.

Explore Lake Superior

Image of an island in Lake Superior

While we’re on the subject of Gooseberry Falls State Park, let’s mention Lake Superior. Being one of the world’s largest lakes (and holding approximately 10% of Earth’s freshwater), it’s pretty hard to overlook! No matter how much time you spend there, whether it’s an hour or a day, it will be well worth your trip around this mesmerizing natural wonder.

If you want to experience nature up close, dip your feet in the lake and feel the cold water on your legs. This will make you feel like part of the 225 bird species that live there! The lake is also huge for angling, particularly walleye and trout fishing. If visiting in winter, be sure to check out the ice fishing scene.

The AmericInn by Wyndham Two Harbors Near Lake Superior is a good consideration for accommodation if you will be spending the night. You can also consider Superior Shore Hotel for the same experience.

See Related: Best Cabin Rentals on Lake Superior

Gitchi Gami State Trail

The Gitchi Gami State Trail is a 25-mile biking and hiking trail that follows the North Shore of Lake Superior from Grand Marais to Tofte. It’s a beautiful route for anyone who wants to take in some of Minnesota’s most spectacular scenery without worrying about getting lost or running into pesky bears.

The trail starts at the end of Highway 61 in Grand Marais. It ends at Tofte Beach Park, where you can find an abundance of amenities, including food trucks, restrooms, parking lots, and more—all within walking distance from Gooseberry Falls State Natural Area (more on that later).

The terrain along the trail is flat and relatively easy—there are only two small hills you must go up on your way home. According to our research team’s calculations based on personal experiences during their test runs along this route: “You will ride for 15 minutes without even thinking about it.”

That’s great news because, according to our scientists’ findings about biking speeds: “It takes 15 minutes for someone who rides their bike regularly but has never ridden before.”

As you can see, we take our work seriously. So yeah, it’s 15 minutes of barely having to remember you’re even on a bike, which is ideal since it translates as 15 solid minutes of natural eye candy to enjoy!

Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing

An entire Gooseberry Falls State Park trail system is dedicated entirely to snowshoeing. Every inch of this 17-mile trail system is accessible with a pair of rented snowshoes—and it passes by many different waterfalls along the way!

It even connects up with another trail (the Gitchi Gami State Trail), so you can make your route through the area if desired. There’s also a Visitor Center where you can rent snowshoes to try them.

No worries if you’re not quite ready to take the plunge and go snowshoeing! The park has several trails that are groomed for cross-country skiers. Plus, the trail is open year-round, so you can explore it on foot (sans snowshoes) in summer!

See Related: Best Minnesota Distilleries to Visit

Cross-country Skiing

Image of a man cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing is a great way to exercise and enjoy the beauty of Gooseberry Falls State Park in winter. The trails around the park are well-groomed, so you won’t have to worry about the snow being too deep or soft for your skis.

There is a $5 fee for those who want to use their skis or rent from one of their many rental shops in Two Harbors. Then you can cross-country ski all winter long, and it will cost you (aside from the cost of any gear rental) only $10 per day!

Gooseberry Falls has over 8 miles of trails that wind through forests and alongside lakeshores, offering views of waterfalls. The trails vary in difficulty based on how steep and slippery they are; some parts require more skill than others, making it fun for all skiers.

See Related: Things to Do in Granite Falls, Minnesota

Tips for Visiting Gooseberry Falls State Park

Before you go to Gooseberry Falls State Park, you should read the guides on the park’s website and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website in advance.

It will prepare you for the activities the park has to offer for the season you’re visiting. The website has virtual tours to show you what you’re up for at the park along the North Shore of Lake Superior.  

As for parking, the park has a 2-hour limit. So, if you’re only going to watch the waterfall or have a picnic, it won’t be hard to find a parking spot.

But if you plan to spend the whole day at the park, make arrangements beforehand. The park is open year-round. However, some facilities are closed during the winter months.

As with all national and state parks across America, it’s best to practice a “leave no trace” policy when visiting Gooseberry Falls State Park. Not only does this ensure a better time for other visitors, but it’s also better for the park and the environment.

See Related: Things to Do in Shakopee

Places to Stay Near Gooseberry Falls State Park

1. Larsmont Cottages Top Recommendation

This resort features a variety of accommodation options to suit your needs, including cottages, rooms, and suites. All rooms come complete with a private bathroom, flat screen TV, and air conditioning. Select rooms also boast a balcony or patio. In addition to its comfortable accommodations, Larsmont Cottages also offers a number of on-site amenities and activities to enjoy during your stay. Take a dip in the indoor pool, relax in the sauna or hot tub, get some exercise in the fitness center, or borrow one of the resort's free bikes and explore the surrounding area.

2. AmericInn by Wyndham Two Harbors Near Lake Superior

This hotel features a heated indoor pool, hot tub, and sauna, perfect for unwinding after a long day of exploring. Plus, each guest room comes complete with a 49-inch flat-screen TV with HBO. Other amenities include in-room tea and coffee-making facilities, a hair dryer, and laundry facilities. And if you need to take care of some business while you're in town, the on-site business center has you covered. When you're ready to venture out, you'll find plenty to do nearby.

3. Country Inn Two Harbors

This charming inn is easily accessible from Highway 61 and is close to 4 state parks, making it the perfect basecamp for your North Shore adventures. The Country Inn offers free WiFi and features an on-site pool with a spa and sauna - perfect for unwinding after a long day of exploring. Guestrooms are comfortable and stylish, with modern décor and updated furnishings. Each room comes equipped with a flat-screen TV, microwave, and mini-fridge, and select rooms even have their own private hot tub!

Conclusion

Gooseberry Falls in Spring
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Gooseberry Falls State Park is a must-see for nature lovers, adventurers, and anyone who wants to see the beautiful Minnesota landscape. The drive from Minneapolis takes about three hours, and the drive from Duluth is about an hour. It’s worth every minute simply due to the fantastic Lake Superior shoreline.

Gooseberry Falls State Park is a must-see destination, so enjoy your time there—you won’t be disappointed. We hope you enjoy your visit as much as we did.

Read Also: Must-Visit Waterfalls Near Duluth

FAQs

How long of a hike is Gooseberry Falls?

The hike to Gooseberry Falls is short, only about 1.5 miles round trip. It’s an easy hike, great for families or beginner hikers. The trail is paved and well-marked, and it’s a beautiful hike that takes you past some simply lovely waterfalls.

How many falls are at Gooseberry Falls?

There are actually three spectacular waterfalls at Gooseberry Falls: the lower falls, middle falls, and upper falls. The lower falls are the largest and most popular, with a drop of about 30 feet. The middle falls are smaller, at about 15 feet, while the upper falls are the smallest, at just 10 feet. All three are accessible via a short hiking trail from the visitor center.

Do you have to pay to park at Gooseberry Falls?

Gooseberry Falls provides a free parking area for people visiting the park without purchasing an entry fee.

Are there any other nearby attractions to visit?

Absolutely! The Minnesota North Shore is a stunning neck of the woods and a hidden gem. The views of Lake Superior alone are quite the attraction. A great place to enjoy these views is the scenic overlook at the famous Split Rock Lighthouse, which is less than 10 minutes away. Another personal favorite of mine is the Castle Danger Brewery, which is less than 20 minutes away. Another big draw to the area in winter is the Northwoods Ski Trails, just outside of Silver Bay.

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