|Distance||1 mile roundtrip|
|Terrain||A few hills|
- One of the best accessible hikes in Minnesota
- Multiple impressive waterfalls
- Great for all seasons
Gooseberry Falls is one of the most iconic natural features in Minnesota, with its three tiered waterfall and a river emptying into Lake Superior. The ease of access makes this a popular destination, since it's conveniently located off a major highway and only requires a short walk to the overlooks of the falls. The Department of Natural Resources has worked hard to make this beautiful sight accessible to all, building ramps and paved trails down to the falls. This route maps the wheelchair accessible route to all the viewpoints of the falls -- note there are several shortcuts involving stairs for those who are able. The gorgeous scenery makes this one of the best accessible hikes (possibly the best) in the entire state.
Dogs are allowed on leash. The short distance and gentle grades make this an excellent hike for all ages. Because this is an accessible trail, that also means it is perfect for strollers! All of the trails are open in the spring, summer, and fall, and portions may be closed during the winter -- the trail to the overlook of Upper Falls is open year round. This park is immensely popular in the summer. For a less crowded, more unique experience, visit in the winter to see the frozen falls.
From the parking lot, follow the paved trail to the visitor center. Turn right at the first fork after passing the visitor center, then turn right again shortly after to continue downhill to the viewpoint of the Lower and Middle Falls. Some switchbacks allow you to skip the stairs on the way down. At the bottom looking to your left, you'll have the view of Middle Falls pictured at the top of the page, and to your right you can see the top of Lower Falls.
Turn around and continue up the same hill, then turn right at the intersection at the top of the hill. Soon you'll see the rock-filled Gooseberry River on your right and ahead there will be a viewing area for the Upper Falls. While these views are nice (see picture below), the best views of Upper Falls are from the catwalk under the bridge, which requires quite a bit of backtracking if you are unable to take the stairs.
Take Interstate 35 north to Duluth, then continue heading north on Minnesota Highway 61. Look for signs for the park approximately 13 miles north of Two Harbors, then turn right. Park in the large lot by the visitor center.
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
This is a rare Minnesota State Park that doesn't require a vehicle fee to park near the visitor center (if you wish to drive to other parts of the park, you will have to pay). The visitor center is wheelchair accessible and has bathrooms, educational displays, a gift shop, and vending machines.