On our travels along the North Shore, we visited a new-to-us state park-Temperance River State Park. Much like Tettegouche State Park, this state park is right off of Highway 61. The trailhead and parking area for the state park looks more like a highway wayside rest. You pull right off into the parking area. The campground here is to the south of Highway 61 and most of the trails and park are to the north.
Upon arrival, we pulled into the campground area to check out the sites there. This was only a day trip for us but we always like to check out the campgrounds for the future. From what I can remember, there were some pretty awesome sites with views of Lake Superior, however, most are non-electric and made for tent camping (so the parking pad only fits the length of a vehicle).
After checking out the park, we found a spot in the near-empty parking area. We are pretty early risers and we had arrived probably close to 9AM. With highs forecasted in the upper 80’s/low 90’s we wanted to make sure that we got our hikes done early in the day. In the end, it didn’t matter because where we were it only reached low 70’s in the peak heating of the day.
Like at Tettegouche, we had planned to hike Minnesota State Park Hiking Club trail. On the map, the hiking club trails are almost always shaded. The trail was going to lead up along the Temperance River Gorge, up to the Upper Falls, and then loop back through the forest where we come out back by Hidden Falls.
When we arrived, because we were so “early”, we hardly encountered anyone on our way out. The trail here is rocky, some dirt, and some stairs. It was rather adventurous for the girls and the enjoyed every minute along the gorge. Elsie had brought along her own camera and there were lots of stops along the way for photos. While hiking, she asked me if she could start her own blog-I told her she could just share mine and I would post some of her pictures :). It is really fun to see the things she finds interesting as I look through her picture. Like this U-shaped branch below.
Like most of the other hikes on this trip, I was a little nervous because there were steep drop offs into the gorge. We held tight to Evelyn on this portion of the hike and Elsie stayed pretty close to us. There were signs posted on every interpretive sign about the gorge to keep your children close-and for good reason.
After we made our way past the gorge, the trail because a little less steep and rocky and I could relax a little. It continued to parallel the river, which gave for some beautiful views.
As we were hiking, a few other hikers passed us (something we are used to since hiking with kids takes FOREVER, lol). Many were on their way to Carlton Peak-which is 1000 feet above the shores of Lake Superior and also open to rock climbing. Many recommended we do the same and that the view was amazing from up there. Of course, I didn’t want to steer away from our plan of completing the hiking club trail, plus we didn’t have the backpack carrier for Evie and it was a complete uphill climb and three miles one way. Someday, someday we will be able to do hikes like this but for now, we will stick to the shorter distances.
The trail eventually turns into the woods away from the river. It was peaceful and only saw one other small group on that portion of the trail.
This is where we came across our first, and thankfully, only sign of a black bear. Fresh black bear scat sat right in the middle of the trail, so fresh I could smell it first before seeing it. After this I picked up my pace a little, hoping to get back to the main part of the trail where there were other people.
We finally made it back to where the trails meet back up near the gorge and we were shocked at the amount of people who were there! apparently while we were enjoying our quiet little hike, crowds were accumulating near the trailhead. My bit of advice, get there early. When we left there wasn’t a single parking spot open at the parking area.
Another interesting thing about this park is that it serves as a major trailhead for the Superior Hiking Trail, a 310 mile hiking trail that runs from Duluth to the Canadian Border. We saw numerous backpackers hiking around the park on the trail, and Elsie was very much interested in what they were doing. In fact, the Superior Hiking Trail travels through all three of the state parks we visited on this trip. Another trail, the Gitchi-Gami State Trail is a paved bike trail that, once completed, will be an 89-mile paved, recreational trail. I told John that I would love to bike camp this trail sometime.
We decided to find a restaurant near Tofte, MN just a couple of miles north of the park and came across the Bluefin Grille. The food was pretty yummy and the duck and wild rice soup was a hit with all of us. And the view of Lake Superior couldn’t be beat. After dining, we made our way out to the rocky beach just outside and spent some time rock hunting and tossing rocks in.