Gooseberry Falls

Silver Creek / Two Harbors, Minnesota, USA

About Gooseberry Falls


Hiking Distance: 3 miles loop
Suggested Time: 60-75 minutes

Date first visited: 2015-09-27
Date last visited: 2015-09-27

Waterfall Latitude: 47.14294
Waterfall Longitude: -91.46786

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Gooseberry Falls was really a series of three wide and impressive waterfalls on the Gooseberry River.

It was one of several waterfall experiences that we encountered while touring the North Shore of Lake Superior between Duluth and Thunder Bay.

Gooseberry_Falls_061_09272015 - Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry Falls

That said, perhaps this series of waterfalls was the most popular amongst those we had encountered in this very scenic stretch of the Lake Superior shoreline.

Each of the three waterfalls were unimaginatively named the Upper Falls, Middle Falls, and Lower Falls as they were also modestly-sized on their own.

All of the Gooseberry Falls were right beneath the Minnesota Highway 61 (see directions below).

The 30ft Upper Falls was slightly to the north (upstream) of the bridge, while the Middle and Lower Falls (60ft combined) were further to the south (downstream) of the bridge.

Gooseberry_Falls_006_09272015 - Looking downstream towards the outflow of the Gooseberry River into Lake Superior
Looking downstream towards the outflow of the Gooseberry River into Lake Superior

The Gooseberry River would ultimately continue its southward advance before draining into the vast Lake Superior.

Julie and I agree that it was really the overall experience and ease of accessibiilty that made Gooseberry Falls stand out (hence resulting in its high rating).

Indeed, the photos really didn’t do this waterfall justice as they can’t possibly convey all the various ways we were able to experience each of these three waterfalls.

Nevertheless, we’re making the attempt to convey our enthusiasm for the falls in this write up!

Gooseberry_Falls_028_09272015 - Looking across the Upper Gooseberry Falls towards the Hwy 61 Road Bridge
Looking across the Upper Gooseberry Falls towards the Hwy 61 Road Bridge

While there were many hiking options to experience Gooseberry Falls, we opted to combine a short out-and-back hike to take in the Upper Falls before doing a loop hike that allowed us to experience the Middle and Lower Falls.

Experiencing the Upper Gooseberry Falls

From the huge parking lot, we followed some very well-developed paths towards an extensive visitor center before continuing northwards as we were following some castle-like walls flanking the Hwy 61.

Once we got near the underside of the Hwy 61 bridge, we briefly checked out the brink of the Middle Falls before going back beneath the road bridge to get frontal views of the Upper Falls.

Nearby the lookout of the frontal view of Upper Falls was a small cave or cove as well as the continuation of the trail as it followed the river around to the brink of the Upper Falls.

Gooseberry_Falls_042_09272015 - The Upper Gooseberry Falls
The Upper Gooseberry Falls

Along the way, there were other trails leading away from the river to the former Civilian Conservation Corps. site, which was once a bustling area between 1934-1941 during the Great Depression.

In this area, workers spent their nights resting, socializing, and learning new skills after a hard day’s work building trails, overlooks, and buildings that are still in use today (with some modest maintenance and improvements, of course)!

Experiencing the Gooseberry Falls over the rest of the loop hike

After having our fill of the Upper Falls, we then ascended some stairs leading to a footbridge above the Gooseberry River, but beneath the noisy Hwy 61 road bridge.

From this vantage point, we were able to get a top down view of the Upper Falls while also looking further downstream over the brinks of the Middle and Lower Falls towards the valley further downstream as well as the vast Lake Superior further beyond.

Gooseberry_Falls_054_09272015 - Julie and Tahia walking on a trail following the east side of the Gooseberry River at the Gooseberry Falls
Julie and Tahia walking on a trail following the east side of the Gooseberry River at the Gooseberry Falls

The trail then continued to follow the far side of the Gooseberry River, where we’d eventually get a very nice frontal (albeit partial) view of the Middle and Lower Falls.

This view was through a slight opening in the foliage preventing us from getting an even more expansive view.

Nevertheless, Julie and I believe this to be the most photogenic viewpoint, which you can see in the photograph at the top of this page.

Beyond the lookout, we continued the hike downhill as it would eventually lead us down to the banks of the Gooseberry River.

Gooseberry_Falls_055_09272015 - Looking over the brink of the Lower Gooseberry Falls from the east side of the Gooseberry River
Looking over the brink of the Lower Gooseberry Falls from the east side of the Gooseberry River

Once we were down there, we were able to get a few more angled and partial views of the Lower Falls and maybe part of the Middle Falls before crossing over a couple of bridges to get back on the west side of the Gooseberry River.

Once back across the Gooseberry River, we followed the trail back upstream towards the brink of the Lower Falls.

Then, we ultimately returned to the brink of the Middle Falls again, which completed the loop hike taking in the Middle and Lower Falls.

Overall, the entire excursion taking in the three main components of the Gooseberry Falls took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes at a very leisurely pace.

Gooseberry_Falls_080_09272015 - Looking upstream from the footbridges over the Gooseberry River towards the Lower and Middle Gooseberry Falls
Looking upstream from the footbridges over the Gooseberry River towards the Lower and Middle Gooseberry Falls

We could’ve made this visit as short as we wanted it to be or as long as we wanted it to be (especially since there were many more trails branching off the loop trail that we took).

However, we believe the way we did it was the most comprehensive way you could do it if the waterfalls were the main thing you were after.

And judging from how many other people were on the same trails we were on, it seemed like they, too, were motivated by the waterfalls in much the same manner as we were.

Indeed, this was certainly NOT one of those places where you could expect solitude given its immense popularity.

High Flow at Gooseberry Falls

Finally, we have to note that we happened to see the Gooseberry Falls in much higher flow than what we were anticipating based on our pre-trip research.

Gooseberry_Falls_018_09272015 - Gushing flow at the Upper Gooseberry Falls
Gushing flow at the Upper Gooseberry Falls

We suspect that we might have benefitted from the passing of some very heavy (flooding) rains in the weeks leading up to our trip.

Fortunately for us, we happened to show up when the weather cleared up.

Thus, we benefitted from the after effects of the storm in terms of high flow on the Gooseberry River without dealing with the weather.

That said, we also had to be careful about getting too close to the river given the high flow and turbulent undertows conspiring to drown unsuspecting victims.

Why the Gooseberry Name?

Another interesting thing to note about Gooseberry Falls was that the name of the falls and the river were said to have come from explorer maps as early as 1670.

Gooseberry_Falls_010_09272015 - Looking across the brink of the Middle Gooseberry Falls
Looking across the brink of the Middle Gooseberry Falls

In those early documented surveys of the area, the river was referred to as Sieur des Groseilliers in French or “Shab-on-im-i-kan-i-sibi” in the Native American Anishinabe tongue.

Apparently, the meanings of these names both refer to gooseberries, and so the name stuck.

We’re not sure if there was a history of these berries prior to that to motivate them to come up with the name in the first place.

Authorities

Gooseberry Falls resides in Gooseberry Falls State Park near Two Harbors in Lake County, Minnesota. It is administered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Gooseberry_Falls_008_09272015 - The castle-like walls lining Hwy 61 as we were walking towards Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry_Falls_021_09272015 - Looking back at some kind of interesting cave or cove formation near the former site of the Civilian Conservation Corps by the Upper Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry_Falls_023_09272015 - Direct view of the Upper Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry_Falls_044_09272015 - Looking down at the context of the Upper Gooseberry Falls with the overlook area as we were crossing the Gooseberry River on the footpath beneath the Hwy 61 road bridge
Gooseberry_Falls_052_09272015 - Looking downstream over the brinks of the Middle and Lower Falls as the Gooseberry River meandered towards Lake Superior in the distance
Gooseberry_Falls_050_09272015 - Tahia about to leave the underpass beneath the Hwy 61 road bridge and continue on the trail along the east side of the Gooseberry River
Gooseberry_Falls_069_09272015 - Perhaps the most photogenic view of just part of the Middle and Lower Gooseberry Falls as seen from the east side of the Gooseberry River
Gooseberry_Falls_079_09272015 - At this point, the trail descended down to a pair of footbridges traversing the Gooseberry River, where we now got these partial and angled views back towards the Middle and Lower Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry_Falls_101_09272015 - Looking back upstream towards part of the Lower Gooseberry Falls from one of the footbridges across the Gooseberry River
Gooseberry_Falls_102_09272015 - Looking across one of the footbridges traversing the Gooseberry River at the very bottom of the loop hike
Gooseberry_Falls_105_09272015 - Julie and Tahia on the trail leading back upstream towards the brinks of both the Lower and Middle Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry_Falls_108_09272015 - Looking across the Lower Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry_Falls_116_09272015 - Looking across the Middle Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry_Falls_130_09272015 - Julie and Tahia finally making it back to the big parking lot to wrap up our Gooseberry Falls hike

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Gooseberry Falls was the last of the major waterfalls that we visited during our long drive back from Thunder Bay, Ontario to Duluth, Minnesota along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

The falls was within Gooseberry State Park, which was right off the Minnesota Highway 61 on its east (lakeshore) side about 40 miles (about an hour) north of Duluth and 241km (3 hours) south of Thunder Bay.

The nearest town of significant size would probably be Two Harbors some 13 miles to the south.

Gooseberry_Falls_002_09272015 - Looking back at the parking lot from the trailhead for Gooseberry Falls
Looking back at the parking lot from the trailhead for Gooseberry Falls

Once we took the turnoff into Gooseberry State Park, we then followed the park road to its end.

That was where we encountered a pair of very large yet very busy parking lots.

In fact, we noticed quite a few people were parked along the shoulders of the road closer to the highway as I’m sure there was a lack of parking spaces to accommodate everyone.

Finally, for geographical context, Duluth, Minnesota was 154 miles (about 2.5 hours drive) north of Minneapolis, Minnesota, 189 miles (about 4 hours drive) southwest of Thunder Bay, Canada, and 397 miles (6 hours drive) northwest of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Long movie starting from the brink of the Upper Gooseberry Falls then slowly making my way towards other more frontal views of the falls before ending at the brink of the Middle Gooseberry Falls


Long movie starting from the best view of the Middle and Lower Gooseberry Falls then descending towards the footbridge at the bottom where I was able to get an angled view of part of the Lower Gooseberry Falls


Long movie starting from the brink of the Lower Gooseberry Falls then working my way up to the profile of the Middle Gooseberry Falls

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Tagged with: silver creek, two harbors, lake county, duluth, lake superior, north shore, minnesota, waterfall, lake county, gooseberry, state park, great lakes



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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Gooseberry Falls, Minnesota April 15, 2015 12:51 am by Daniel - Gooseberry Falls, Two Harbors, MN. The crown jewel of the North Shore, Gooseberry Falls is one of the most recognizable sites in the state. Featuring 5 sets of falls through a dramatic river gorge, the Gooseberry River flows out to an agate beach into the largest lake in the world. Hiking trails wind around the… ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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