|Distance||3.5 miles roundtrip|
- Canoe on a pristine lake
- See the Minnesota state bird
- Stay in secluded cabins
Tettegouche State Park is one of the most popular in Minnesota and can be especially busy on summer weekends. However, this hike will take you away from the crowded areas near the waterfalls and the shore of Lake Superior to a calm interior lake. With canoes available for rent, this is an excellent way to spend an afternoon.
The difficulty of this hike caught me by surprise. Although the hike is only 3.5 miles total, the trail takes you up and over a hill each way. To decrease the psychological difficulty (or increase it depending on how you feel about knowing that you've made minimal progress despite being out of breath), there are several signs to denote your progress up the hill with enough additional educational content that you can use it as an excuse for a quick break. I know I was happy when I saw the final sign at the top of the hill. When I went during the summer, the vegetation was too dense to have any sort of view, but there is potential for the other times of the year. After descending the hill, you will find the payoff for your hard work is worth it, and you can enjoy swimming and canoeing in what could feel like your own private lake.
At the bottom of the hill, you will arrive at Tettegouche Camp where there is a vault toilet, a water pump, and several cabins available for rental. Near the dock on the lake pictured below, there are canoes which you can rent for a small fee; just stop at the visitor center on before you hike to pay and receive a code to unlock your canoe once you arrive at the lake. I strongly recommend renting a canoe and spending your afternoon paddling these peaceful waters -- this was easily the best part of this trip to Tettegouche.
If you want to bring your dog, Minnesota State Parks and Recreation Areas allow pets as long as they are on a leash six feet or shorter in length. Note that the lake does not have an easy exit for dogs, so you will have to lift your dog out if he or she enjoys swimming. This state park is often busy on summer weekends, especially near the waterfalls and the shore of Lake Superior. The climb and distance make this too difficult for a family friendly hike, but there are some easier trails near the visitor center. You can hike this trail in any season. Unlike the main attractions, there is no easy way to reach Mic Mac Lake meaning you can escape the crowds of the main areas of Tettegouche. I went during the 4th of July weekend, and there was no one else at the lake for the majority of the time I was there.
Tettegouche State Park is located along Highway 61 approximately 58 miles northeast of Duluth. After checking in at the visitor center, continue heading northeat on Highway 61, then turn left on Highway 1. Follow Highway 1 for about 4 miles, then turn left on Lax Lake Road (County Road 31). In 3 miles, the parking area will be on the left side of the road.
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
Like all Minnesota State Parks and Recreation Areas, you must pay a vehicle entry fee of $7 per day or $35 for an annual pass (highly recommended if you frequently go to Minnesota State Parks). Parking is in an unpaved lot on the side of the road. There are no amenities near the parking lot.