Gooseberry Falls State Park. Waterfall in Minnesota, United States

Gooseberry Falls State Park

Waterfall in Minnesota, United States

Gooseberry Falls Photo © Joe Ennesser

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Gooseberry Falls State Park

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gooseberry falls - Gooseberry
	Falls State Park
gooseberry falls - Gooseberry Falls State Park. Photo by T-Bone Sandwich
Gooseberry Falls State Park is located in the United States in the state of Minnesota, on the picturesque North Shore of Lake Superior, approximately 40 miles north of Duluth, Minnesota. The park is most well-known for the series of five waterfalls that tumble gracefully down a narrow, rocky gorge into Lake Superior.

The park features 18 miles of hiking trails, a well as offering camping and picnic facilities, biking trails, fishing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing.


Geologists have found that around 1.1 billion years ago, a rift opened up in the Earth’s crust in the area of Lake Superior. Lava spilled out and spread out around the area, eventually cooling and forming the dark basalt bedrock that is prevalent along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Much more recently (2.2 million years ago), the area of Gooseberry Falls State Park found itself in the midst of an ice age, covered by glaciers up to a mile thick.

These glaciers dug out the depression that would eventually form into Lake Superior and also sculpted its dark basalt shores and dramatic, rocky coastline as it passed down from the cold north, leaving in their wake the beautiful rock formations that the North Shore of Lake Superior is known for, including the narrow gorge and cascading series of five waterfalls that make up Gooseberry Falls.


The area around Gooseberry Falls has been under continuous human habitation since the first Native American tribes settled here around 8000 B.C. when nearby glaciers began to subside. At varying times throughout ancient history, the area was inhabited by the Cree, Dakota, and Ojibwe (Wikipedia Article) Tribes.

The name for the Gooseberry River either came from an Anishabe Indian name (Shab-on-im-i-kan-i-sibi) or the name of the French explorer, Sieur des Groseilliers, both of which when translated contain references to Gooseberries.

The logging trade took over the the area in the 1890s, almost eliminating the area's abundant pine forests by the 1920s. An interest in preserving the rugged, postcard-perfect scenery of the North Shore for the many tourists who were beginning to come to the area led to the authorization for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to begin the construction of Gooseberry Falls State Park in 1933.

The efforts of the CCC built much of the infrastructure of the park and provided jobs to young men as a part of the New Deal, when the nation was working hard to rebuild after the devastating economic effects of the Great Depression.

The park opened to the public in 1937, and continues to draw nearly a half million visitors each year as the unofficial “Gateway to the North Shore”.

How to Get Here

Gooseberry Falls State Park can be reached by car. It is located on Highway 61, approximately 40 miles North of Duluth, Minnesota. It is the first of a series of state parks along the North Shore that highlight some of the best scenery that Minnesota has to offer. Sheer, rugged cliff faces, broken up by powerful waterfalls, cascade into the unending, blue waters of Lake Superior are sure to delight your senses on your visit to the North Shore.

Recreational Activities in the Park

The centerpiece for any visit to Gooseberry Falls State Park is its dramatic, basalt gorge which channels a series of powerful waterfalls to their terminus at Lake Superior. It can be a great stop for those weary of driving and looking for a break and a few memorable photos, or a longer excursion for those looking to explore the park’s wonders in greater depth.

The park offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities and can be easily enjoyed by those of many ability levels.


Getting to one of the most popular spots in the park barely involves leaving the main road! The Upper Falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park is possibly one of the most photographed places on the North Shore of Lake Superior, because of its close proximity to Highway 61. All it takes to get this iconic Minnesota photo is by walking a few steps from a convenient parking area onto a bridge with a stunning view of the falls.


For those who want a closer look, the Middle and Lower falls are a short, easy walk from the main parking area and visitors' center. Gooseberry Falls State Park is connected to the Superior Hiking Trail, a 296-mile trail system that runs from Duluth to the Canadian border.

A longer 1.8-mile round-trip hike up to the Fifth Falls will get you to a more secluded area of the park with a memorable view that is often overlooked by those who just take their snapshot from the bridge and continue down the road.


Gooseberry Falls is connected to the Gitche-Gami Bike Trail, a paved bike trail that runs down a scenery-dense portion of Lake Superior's Minnesota shore.

Winter Recreation

Wintertime in the park offers opportunities for those who enjoy the enveloping stillness and unique beauty of the woods in the winter. Cross-country ski trails allow access to view the beauty of Gooseberry Falls frozen in time; layers of ice in various shades of blue. Snowmobile and snowshoeing trails are also available, making this a great winter recreation destination!

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Author: thereandbackmn. Last updated: Dec 16, 2014

Pictures of Gooseberry Falls State Park

Gooseberry Falls State Park - Gooseberry Falls State Park
Gooseberry Falls State Park - Photo by Jim Brekke

Gooseberry Falls - Gooseberry Falls State Park
Gooseberry Falls - Gooseberry Falls State Park. Photo by im me

Gooseberry Falls State Park - Gooseberry Falls State Park
Gooseberry Falls State Park - Photo by m01229


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