6 Must-Visit Waterfalls Near Duluth, Minnesota

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Aerial photograph of Gooseberry Falls with cascading water, evergreen trees, and visitors at the park, illustrating Minnesota's scenic landscapes.

Sitting on the shores of Lake Superior, fringing Minnesota’s Iron Range, Duluth is a beloved gateway to natural serenity. It’s a favorite vacation destination for Minnesotans, and the city’s topography makes Duluth a captivating destination for nature lovers and photographers.

In addition to the massive lake it sits on, its reputation for fall colors, and its proximity to some incredible parks, Duluth is within striking distance of a collection of stunning waterfalls. These are especially spectacular after heavy rain or during spring melt following the hard winters in Northern Minnesota.

You can find cascading waterfalls that offer a refreshing escape from the bustle of city life. Exploring nearby waterfall gems like Lester River Falls, located in the Lester-Amity Park area, rewards you with sights and sounds that capture the essence of the northern wilderness without having to stray too far into it! The park’s hidden trails lead to this urban oasis.

For an easy day trip, consider Gooseberry Falls State Park, just a short drive away, where multiple falls cascade in a mesmerizing display against Lake Superior’s rugged coastline. You’ll instantly see why Minnesotans rave about Gooseberry Falls!

You’ve got a few exceptional choices here. Each waterfall on this list offers a chance to soak in the splendor of Northern Minnesota in the spring. With them, you can enjoy plenty of opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and unwinding amid nature’s symphony.

1. Gooseberry Falls: The Iconic Beauty on the North Shore

Gooseberry Falls Minnesota in Spring - Scenic Waterfall Landscape
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Found along Minnesota’s North Shore, Gooseberry Falls invites exploration with its breathtaking waterfalls. It’s a 45-minute drive from Duluth, and it will fly by due to the incredible views of Lake Superior. At Gooseberry Falls State Park, you’ll find well-maintained trails winding through the lush landscape, guiding you to the falls.

Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls

Upper Falls in Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota
Billy McDonald / Adobe Stock
  • Location: Gooseberry Falls State Park
  • Address: 3206 MN-61, Two Harbors, MN 55616
  • Begin your journey by hiking to the Upper Falls, where the sounds of cascading water set the scene for your adventure. Visit in the early morning for a truly serene experience – like a set piece out of Lord of the Rings!
  • A trail leads to the Middle Falls, a popular spot for photography enthusiasts. Remember to bring your camera for the perfect shot (I will probably echo this a lot).
  • Conclude now to the Lower Falls, where you can feel the mist on your face. If you’re considering climbing down, wear sturdy footwear to navigate the rocky terrain safely. It’s worth it if you want to splash around in the falls!

During summer, the greenery starkly contrasts the dramatic waterfalls. Each fall presents a unique backdrop perfect for picnics and relaxation.

You might also consider camping around here to explore the park better up close. There are several campsites in and around the park, not to mention cabins to rent nearby. Watch our full travel guide to visiting Gooseberry Falls from the

2. Tischer Creek Falls, aka Congdon Park Waterfalls: Hidden Gem in the City

Running through Congdon Park in the Hunters Park neighborhood, the “Tischer Creek Falls” is an enchanting feature that embodies the natural beauty you can find in Duluth. As you walk the park’s hiking trails, you’re treated to the sight of Tischer Creek as it cascades through a rhyolite canyon over a series of falls.

Visiting Tischer Creek Falls

Tischer Creek Falls in Duluth, Minnesota
johnsroad7 / Adobe Stock
  • Location: Congdon Park, Duluth
  • Trail Access: Near Congdon Elementary School on Superior Street and East 32nd Street

Tischer Creek and its falls in Congdon Park offer a serene experience that starts right in the heart of Duluth. It’s easily accessible and is undeniably worth the visit.

Remember to wear comfortable shoes, as the paths can be a bit rough. Some are also very slippy after heavy rain, so you might want to bring boots.

The park trails will lead you to hidden falls – more camera food. The red volcanic rock surrounding the falls creates a striking backdrop to the white water. It’s hard to think that this is hiding in a city.

See Related: Our Favorite Hotels in Duluth

3. Lester River Falls: A Local Favorite

Lester River Falls in Minnesota
LorentzenPhotography / Adobe Stock

One of the key features of Lester Park is Lester River Falls. This park is popular with joggers, dog walkers, and cyclists, but it’s also a great place to take the kids.

You can find it in the Lakeside/Lester Park neighborhood on the eastern edge of Duluth. As you wander through the park, the Lester River carves a picturesque path, creating several small cascades culminating in the stunning main “Lester Falls.”

  • Trail Accessibility: Well-maintained
  • Ideal for: Families, hiking enthusiasts, nature lovers, and weddings!
  • Vantage Points: Multiple along the trails and bridges
  • Trail Lengths: Ranging from a quick 0.2-mile romantic stroll to extensive 9-mile leafy hikes

As part of the Superior Hiking Trail network, the trails around the park offer varying levels of challenge and adventure. Leisurely stroll or embark on a more strenuous hike — Lester Park provides an inspiring backdrop for your exploration. Be sure to visit during spring runoff to witness the falls in full splendor.

You’ll definitely want to bring a camera to capture the scenic vistas from the bridges here. This has to be one of the most gorgeous corners of the city, showcasing Minnesota’s natural beauty in fine form. It’s also close to some of Duluth’s best restaurants and breweries!

4. Amity Creek Falls: Serenity Near the City

Stone arch bridge and the Amity Creek Falls in Duluth, Minnesota
johnsroad7 / Adobe Stock

The sort of unofficial midpoint between Lester and Amity Park, Amity Creek Falls, offers you the tranquility of the natural world, just moments from the city’s hustle. You can easily walk down to Lester Park and enjoy the shores of Lake Superior from here.

  • Location: Lester-Amity Park area, Duluth, MN
  • Height: Approximately 20 feet

Amity Creek Falls, known to locals as “The Deeps,” features a series of cascades culminating in impressive 20-foot descents that draw locals, nature enthusiasts, and photographers alike.

Shutterbugs planning a visit will want to aim for a day following heavy rainfall to witness the falls at their peak. You can achieve similar results in spring, depending on the length of the winter. It’s a beautiful place to snap Minnestoa waking up from winter slumber.

Remember, wear sturdy footwear if you are going on a post-heavy rainfall day! Some of the terrain around the falls is uneven and will definitely be slippery.

See Related: Best Tours in Minnesota

5. Swinging Bridge Falls: Unique Views in Jay Cooke State Park

Swinging Bridge in Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton, Minnesota
Susan Rydberg / Adobe Stock

Jay Cooke State Park is a short drive southwest from Duluth to Carlton. It’s also gorgeous, where nature’s portrait is painted across a canvas of trails, water, and sky. Its beauty is in no small part thanks to the Swinging Bridge and the stunning, jagged falls it overlooks.

It’s a popular summer destination for families, but it’s also a winter sports haven. Frankly, though, it’s a year-round destination for anyone looking for a natural escape.

Jay Cooke State Park Highlights:

  • Onsite Camping: Jay Cooke State Park has over 80 campsites and five cabins for anyone considering staying near the falls.
  • The Swinging Bridge: Step onto this unique bridge for the ultimate panoramic view of the falls.
  • Great Hiking Trails: Embark along the neck of the Superior Hiking Trail, where scenic vistas await your discovery. Enjoy great views of the nearby Saint Louis Falls from Ogantz Trail.
Visitor Tips:
  • Wear sturdy shoes for rocky terrain around the park.
  • Early morning visits offer tranquil solitude and the best opportunities for photos.
  • Check park conditions, especially in winter, to ensure safe fall access.

Swinging Bridge Falls – Beautiful All Year

Swinging Bridge in Jay Cooke State Park, Minnesota
Joe Passe/ Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

Swinging Bridge Falls grace the St. Louis River, offering a picturesque backdrop distinct to each Minnesota season. Each season brings new activities around the falls, too!

In the Spring:

  • Witness the rush of meltwater bolster the falls to a robust cascade. It’s a great contrast against the rocks.
  • The emerging greenery of the park amplifies the natural splendor of the water’s flow.

Into Summer:

  • Northern Minnesota, in full bloom, at its finest. It’s a kaleidoscope of colors.
  • Great time to paddle around in the falls.

During Fall:

  • An explosion of autumnal colors. Early-mid fall is the most spectacular.
  • Also a great time to visit Duluth as it’s off-season.

Then Winter:

  • The falls catch a frost, featuring ice formations that encase the tumbling waters. More jagged edges to the rocks!
  • Expect few crowds but magical vistas. Enjoy snowshoeing around the park!

See Related: Best Cabin Rentals on Lake Superior

6. High Falls on the Pigeon River: Majestic Border Falls

High Falls in Grand Portage State Park
MelissaMN / Adobe Stock

If you feel like an all-day trip to one of the most impressive sights in North America, Duluth is your last major port of call! Tucked away in Grand Portage State Park, High Falls on the Pigeon River is even further north than Grand Marais, which most Minnesotans think is pretty north!

As Minnesota’s tallest waterfall, High Falls cascades down 120 feet, creating a breathtaking spectacle that straddles the border between the United States and Canada. It’s a stunning display of natural beauty.

Over time, the Pigeon River has played a vital role in the area’s history, once a route for fur traders. The falls perfectly epitomize this piece of the border’s shared natural heritage and timeless beauty. The roar of the High Falls and the feel of the mist on my skin always remind me of the sheer force and wonder of nature.

Visiting the High Falls on the Pigeon River

Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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