North Shore Adventures: 8 Stops between Duluth and Tettegouche State Park
There are so many rad things to do in Duluth. This is not a blog about that! This is specifically geared for those looking for a day trip from Duluth up to Silver Bay/Little Marais, or perhaps for some stops along the way to Lutsen. For anyone heading to the Wild Woman Retreat this summer, build some stops into your route on the way to and from the retreat.
First stop: Brighton Beach
Skip this stop if you are trying to get on the road. This is a great spot for a picnic, paddle, and a cool dip in Lake Superior. I love to paddle under the bridge and up the Lester River a bit.
Second stop: Knife River
If you are trying to make good time, take the highway right to Two Harbors. If you are looking for a more leisurely route, take the Scenic Road along the shore. Either way, a stop in Knife River is well worth your time. Knife River is home to two excellent stops, The Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen and Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse. Grab some smoked fish, cheese, and crackers for your picnic needs! Emily’s is also a nice place to stop for lunch.
*Fun fact: Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen closes December 27th-ish to late April. Without fail, my husband panics in mid-December and starts buying up a stash of candies to last until spring. The stash typically lasts until about February…
Third Stop: Castle Danger Brewery
For the second year in a row, Castle Danger Brewery won the Star Tribune popular vote for Minnesota’s favorite brewery. (Coming in second, Bent Paddle in Duluth. Go Northland!) Hungry? Order a pizza from Do North Pizzeria and have it delivered right to the taproom.
*If you need coffee on the way up, I love Cedar Coffee Company. The modern building is nestled in the woods and is also home to rental bikes (including fat bikes) and a bike shop, Spokengear. The food is also delicious!
Fourth Stop: Pie please!
After Two Harbors, you have two excellent pie options. (These can also be good stops on the way home when you are famished from a full day!) Betty’s Pies and The Rustic Cafe both have excellent pie. I’ll let you be the judge on who does pie better!
Fifth Stop: Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry tends to be very crowded in the summer months, so if crowds aren’t your thing, cruise on by. There’s an excellent waterfall at Tettegouche with less crowds. However, the falls at Gooseberry are iconic and worth the stop.
Sixth Stop: Split Rock Lighthouse
Crowds can be bustling at this stop as well. To avoid crowds, I typically skip the lighthouse itself and turn right after the station to pay for a day pass (or better yet, annual state park pass). Going to the right will take you down to a parking lot that is nestled below the lighthouse. It’s a great spot for a picnic, rock skipping, and great photos of the lighthouse. On a calm day, paddle enthusiasts can paddle around the cliff and the lighthouse.
Seventh Stop: Palisade Head
In my opinion, it is practically criminal to drive past Palisade Head without stopping. The turnoff for Palisade Head is just before you get to Tettegouche on the right hand side of the road. A 2 minute drive takes you right to the top. Quickly hop out and enjoy one of the most scenic overlooks of Lake Superior.
Eighth (and last) Stop: Tettegouche State Park
Shovel Point Loop (easy hike)
The hike to Shovel Point (the lake overlook) is about 2 miles round trip. It is a gentle hike on a paved path. There are several stairs to climb and descend.
High Falls Loop (moderate hike)
Another great, though slightly more advanced hike, will take you to the High Falls. Ask for instructions in the visitor center. Again, the hike is pretty gentle but more uphill/downhill and can be muddy depending on the weather. About 2.5 mi round trip.