Waterfalls at Tettegouche State Park
Hike to 4 waterfalls at Tettegouche State Park
Tettegouche State Park, on the North Shore of Lake Superior, Minnesota features four waterfalls along the Baptism River. Whether you’re looking for a short hike or a day-long adventure the scenic trails along the Baptism River will take you to four waterfalls at Tettegouche State Park.
Cascade Falls at Tettegouche State Park
Cascade Falls is the waterfall closest to the mouth of the river at Lake Superior. To get there and back is less than 2 miles, so it’s easily doable in a short amount of time.
Start at the Visitor Center at Tettegouche State Park (you don’t need a state park pass to park here). Walk on the road to cross the Baptism River bridge, and see a lovely view of the mouth of the river at Lake Superior! Exploring the gravel bar that exists between the river mouth and Lake Superior is pretty cool too. Plan to venture there after your hike to Cascade Falls!
The trail really starts as you cross under the highway bridge and onto a hiking trail that runs adjacent to the Baptism River. Hike by the river the whole way to Cascade Falls! Start out meandering along the lowlands of the river where there are spots that you can reach the water’s edge. In here in the winter, you can see tracks from skiers and snowshoers on the river itself, pictured below.
Halfway down the trail, gently climb to higher ground as you round the last bend of the Baptism River. There are a series of wooden bridges and stairs that take you along the steeper terrain on this section of trail.
The trail meets the water’s edge once again as you approach the falls. Cascade Falls is not very tall or steep compared to its neighbors upstream, but it’s cool because the water fills an upper pool of water before it cascades down over the rocks.
The trail to Cascade Falls at Tettegouche State Park ends at the falls.
High Falls at Tettegouche State Park
There are two ways to get to High Falls. The short way is to drive into Tettegouche State Park from the visitor center to the trailhead parking area (you will need a state park pass). From here you can reach both High Falls and Two Step Falls.
It’s an easy stroll through a lovely pine forest on the way to High Falls. The trail gently trends downward for about .6 of a mile. When you reach the river, you’ll be at the top rim of the canyon for a nice view downriver (through the trees).
Follow the steps downhill to the swinging bridge that crosses the Baptism River. It may “technically” be a swinging bridge, but it doesn’t seem swinggie. Although, it does move slightly when you walk on it. The first time I took this trail, I didn’t know it was there, so it was pretty cool!
From here, it’s just a few footsteps to the cliff of High Falls at Tettegouche. From this vantage point, you’re above the waterfall looking down at the rushing water with a backdrop of the steep canyon wall on the other side. It’s really an amazing view, especially in the winter with the ice-covered falls. You can hear the water rushing under the ice!
Continue down the trail, downhill to reach the pool at the base of the falls. In the summer, this is a great place to wade or swim, depending on the conditions.
The long trail to High Falls at Tettegouche
The other way to High Falls is to take the trail on the other side of the Baptism River (the Northeast). Park at the visitor center and take the trail across Highway 61. Hike about 1.5 miles one-way to High Falls.
Coming this way, you will reach the pool at the base of the falls first, before hiking up the hill to the top of the falls.
Two Step Falls at Tettegouche State Park
Two Step Falls is on the way to High Falls. Take the same trails that lead you to High Falls described above.
For the short trail, park at the trailhead parking area inside the park (a state park pass is required). It’s about 1 mile to Two Step Falls. Note that there is no river crossing at this point.
The longer trail is the same one to High Falls described above, on the northeast side of the Baptism River. It’s about1.2 miles on-way to the falls.
Illgen Falls is just a short drive inland along the Baptism River. Take Highway 1 1.6 miles to a small pull-off parking area on the left (past the Superior Hiking Trail parking area). It is not well marked, but there is a small state park sign.
The short trail takes you past a cabin, then to the thundering Illgen Falls. Explore the flat river above the falls, and take the rocky path down adjacent to the falls. In the summer, you may find people swinging into the pool by the ropes on both sides. You can also make your way into the pool by the rocks if you don’t want to jump. As always, be careful when exploring river waters; they can be unpredictable.