5 Popular North Shore Hikes

The North Shore is one of the most magical places to get outside. It can honestly be overwhelming to plan a trip with so many parks and hikes to choose from. The good thing is that you really can’t go wrong! Here I’ll tell you about 5 Popular North Shore hikes to help you plan your trip. 

Shovel Point – Tettegouche State Park

Shovel Point, Tettegouche St. Park Popular North Shore hike
View from Shovel Point, Tettegouche St. Park

Shovel Point is one of the most popular North Shore Hikes because it offers some of the best Lake Superior views you can find. And at sunset…wow! I cannot recommend it enough. Rough water, rocky beaches, towering cliffs, and evergreens for miles. It’s gorgeous. It makes you pause and reflect on how beautiful our world is! You’ll often find photographers and couples just hanging out and taking everything in. 

The hike from the Visitor Center is two miles roundtrip. There are a few inclines and lots of steps, but it’s so worth it! Plan enough time for the hike itself, and to spend some time admiring the view. 

Pro Tip: The colors here in September-October are incredibly hard to beat. Don’t miss it if you are on a North Shore hike in the fall! 

How to get there 

Park at the Tettegouche State Park Rest Area and Visitor Center. 

Palisade Head – Tettegouche State Park

View from Palisade Head, North Shore MN
View from the top of Palisade Head.

Palisade Head is a popular North Shore hike, but this doesn’t have to be a hike! It’s popular because of the panoramic view from the cliff’s edge. You can actually drive right up to a small parking lot where you can step out to that awesome view. You could also start from the bottom parking lot and hike your way up! 

The walk will take you about 15 minutes going uphill, so if you have some energy and are ready to move your body, this is a great hike. Once you get there you’ll stand on rock formations that go as high as 300 feet above Lake Superior! Phew. 

Palisade Head is another spot that will have you take a step back and just think – wow. Make sure to have your camera ready! 

How to get there

There is a sign and a small parking area located 2.7 miles east of Silver Bay. Park in the parking lot off Highway 61 and walk, or drive the switchback trail to the top. 

High Falls – Tettegouche State Park

High Falls, Tettegouche St Park, MN
Down the stairs to High Falls, Tettegouche St Park, MN

Did you know that Minnesota has two High Falls?! High Falls at Tettegouche State Park is the tallest waterfall entirely in Minnesota (more on that later). It’s also one of the most popular hikes on the North Shore MN. In a short 1.5 mile hike, you can get there. And trust me, both the cascading waters and surrounding scenery, are worth the trip! 

This popular North Shore hike is packed with rewarding views! One of my favorites is a wooden platform where you can see over the top of the waterfall and the surrounding area. From there, the trail keeps wrapping around to cross the bridge, which takes you to stairs leading to the bottom of the High Falls of Tettegouche. It’s beautiful at any time of year! There are two options – a three-mile roundtrip, and a 1.5-mile roundtrip. 

How to get there

  • 3-miles roundtrip: Head to the small trailhead parking area right off Hwy 61. It’s to the east (north) of the Baptism River. 
  • 1.5 miles roundtrip: Drive into the park, past the visitor center (an MN State Park pass is required). Follow the road up the west side of the Baptism River to the campground and trailhead parking area.

Tip: Tettegouche is a popular place. Try to get here in the morning or evening for a better experience. That goes for the next two recommendations as well. 

High Falls – Grand Portage State Park

High Falls, Grand Portage State Park
High Falls, Grand Portage State Park

This popular North Shore hike leads to the actual tallest waterfall in Minnesota. What? Well, where High Falls in Tettegouche State Park is the highest entirely in Minnesota, High Falls at Grand Portage State Park is actually higher, it’s just shared with Canada. This actually makes it really cool and unique, because once you make it to the waterfall, you can give a wave to our Canadian friends hiking on the other side! 

The waterfall is huge (120 ft.) making for gorgeous scenery and epic photos as the water crashes down into the Pigeon River. There are a few different hiking options – and even more than one set of falls. This is my favorite option:

1.2-mile roundtrip: From the Visitor Center at Grand Portage State Park, stroll along a paved, accessible path. The pavement turns into a boardwalk, and soon you’ll arrive at the scenic overlook to check out High Falls. Again, if your day is packed (which it should be!), then this is great. 

Gitchi-Gummi Trail – Gooseberry Falls State Park

Gooseberry Falls, MN in winter
A frozen Gooseberry Falls, MN in winter

This popular North Shore hike through Gooseberry Falls State Park is beautiful in any season and absolutely breathtaking in the winter! The waterfalls freeze over and you can do a ton of exploring both on the trail and off. Plus, it’s a lot less busy than during the summer! 

The 1.2 mile Gitchi-Gummi Trail loops inside of the park for a great short trip. From the Visitor Center, take the short walk to the Gooseberry River and cross the bridge. Hook up with the loop on the east side of the river, and hike to a spectacular Lake Superior overlook.

You’ll definitely want to combine this loop with a detour to view the Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls of the Gooseberry River. You won’t be disappointed! Check out the map for even more great Gooseberry Falls options

Don’t confuse this Gitchi-Gummi trail through Gooseberry Falls State Park, with the Gitch-Gami State Trail, which also goes through Gooseberry Falls State Park. Huh? They are both popular North Shore hiking trails, but we’re talking about the lovely little 1.2 mile loop around Gooseberry Falls State Park (Gitchi-Gummi trail), not the paved trail that goes the length of the North Shore (Gitchi-Gami State Trail). Hopefully, that clears it up. 

To get there

Park at the Gooseberry Falls State Park visitor center. 

Hiking on the North Shore MN

If you have yet to explore the North Shore of Minnesota, I would highly recommend planning a trip as soon as you can! The untouched land, fresh air, Lake Superior views, friendly people, and the chance to disconnect are only a few of the reasons why it’s a good idea! While your there, don’t forget to mix in some (or all!) of these popular yet worth it North Shore hikes. You will leave feeling both satisfied and accomplished. Now set your phone down and immerse yourself in nature!

What is your favorite North Shore Hike? Comment below. 

Contributor Profile

Amber, a Minneapolis-based travel writer, is happiest on the go. Her blog Little Blue Backpack focuses on Minnesota, Michigan’s Upper Penninsula, and other Midwest locations. Follow her for local finds, day trip, and road trips! When she isn’t traveling, she is probably watching Michigan Football, reading a book, or enjoying a lake somewhere.

Follow her Instagram and on her blog Little Blue Backpack!

Amber - Little Blue Backpack