High Falls of the Baptism River

Tettegouche State Park / Silver Bay, Minnesota, USA

About High Falls of the Baptism River


Hiking Distance: 1.8 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 90 minutes

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

Waterfall Latitude: 47.35119
Waterfall Longitude: -91.21005

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The High Falls of the Baptism River was a gushing waterfall that really impressed Julie and I with its size.

Surrounded by native forest protected by the Tettegouche State Park, this waterfall was where the Baptism River dropped 100ft.

High_Falls_Baptism_River_055_09272015 - High Falls of the Baptism River
High Falls of the Baptism River

Thus, it was said that the High Falls of the Baptism River was the highest waterfall entirely in the state of Minnesota.

Although we didn’t visit them, the Baptism River possessed many other waterfalls such as Ilgen Falls and Two-Step Falls among others.

That said, judging by the sheer volume of water that we witnessed at the High Falls, I’m sure these other waterfalls would’ve been impressive in their own right.

Although we had seen pictures of this waterfall in lower flow during our pre-trip research, we suspect that the waterfall’s high flow must’ve been the result of some heavy (flooding) rains that hit the area in the weeks prior to our arrival in late September.

High_Falls_Baptism_River_089_09272015 - Looking over the brink of the High Falls of the Baptism River
Looking over the brink of the High Falls of the Baptism River

So I guess, we lucked out in terms of the weather in that we weren’t caught in the bad weather, but we benefitted from its after effects.

Hiking to the High Falls of the Baptism River

Julie, Tahia, and I had to go on a modestly long hike of about 0.7 miles (at least according to the signs) in each direction from the nearest trailhead (see directions below).

Although the 1.4-mile round trip distance didn’t seem too bad, it still took us 90 minutes away from the car (including stops) so it wasn’t as short as the distances would’ve led us to believe.

We suspect that the reason for this seemingly slow pace was either incorrect labeling or rough, slow-going terrain.

High_Falls_Baptism_River_014_09272015 - Dealing with some of the muddy stretches of the trail to the High Falls of the Baptism River
Dealing with some of the muddy stretches of the trail to the High Falls of the Baptism River

After all, our GPS log indicated that we had hiked closer to 0.9 miles in each direction (instead of only 0.7 miles).

Moreover, the up-and-down nature of the hike as well as the muddy conditions conspired to make the hike tricky for our four-year-old daughter.

Nevertheless, the hike began in earnest from the trailhead parking by climbing immediately.

When the climb flattened out after some 10-15 minutes, the trail then pretty much went level, but then we encountered more muddy stretches along the way.

High_Falls_Baptism_River_016_09272015 - Julie carrying Tahia over a sloppy and muddy stretch of the trail to the High Falls of the Baptism River
Julie carrying Tahia over a sloppy and muddy stretch of the trail to the High Falls of the Baptism River

At worst, I had to carry our daughter over the parts where it would’ve gotten real sloppy for her.

In any case, on the warm, sunny day that we did this hike, most of this trail was shaded as it was flanked by trees, which gave us some relief from the sun.

After about 20 minutes of hiking, we started to encounter stairs as well as other trail junctions (attesting to the many options available for experiencing this falls or partaking in longer hikes).

The sign said it was only 0.1 miles to the falls from this point, but I think the signs only meant reaching the first (partial) views of the High Falls of the Baptism River.

High_Falls_Baptism_River_028_09272015 - Julie and Tahia crossing the steel suspension bridge just upstream from High Falls of the Baptism River
Julie and Tahia crossing the steel suspension bridge just upstream from High Falls of the Baptism River

There was still a bit more of trail to get to the best views at the very end.

Continuing to the Banks of the Baptism River

Once we started to see where the High Falls of the Baptism River was, we started to see spur trails or lookout railings revealing various aspects of the waterfall.

The first one yielded a nice top down view from the brink of the falls.

As the main trail veered in the upstream direction while continuing to descend, we then crossed the river on a bouncy, enclosed, steel-wired suspension bridge.

High_Falls_Baptism_River_084_09272015 - Looking down over the brink of the High Falls of the Baptism River from the other side
Looking down over the brink of the High Falls of the Baptism River from the other side

Once we were on the other side, we continued along the trail in the downstream direction, which revealed a few more spots to check out the impressive waterfall from its brink on this side.

Next, the trail continued further downstream as it descended even more steps while junctioning with other longer trails following the Baptism River.

The final flight of steps descended all the way to the banks of the Baptism River, where we were able to enjoy a somewhat distant view of the High Falls.

Now given the high flow state of the falls, our options for trying to view it from other angles were limited.

High_Falls_Baptism_River_052_09272015 - Keeping a close eye on our daughter at the High Falls of the Baptism River
Keeping a close eye on our daughter at the High Falls of the Baptism River

While we did see some of the more daring folks scramble closer to the High Falls of the Baptism River, we were content with our distant views while keeping a very close eye on our daughter so that she wouldn’t get swept away.

This was the turnaround point of our hike.

Even though the excursion required quite a bit of time and exercise, it was still a very busy trail as this spot was shared with lots of people.

We encountered other families either picnicking or camping nearby as well as trekkers with backpacks hiking parts of the multi-day Lake Superior Trail.

High_Falls_Baptism_River_096_09272015 - Julie and Tahia returning to the trailhead parking to end our hike to the High Falls of the Baptism River
Julie and Tahia returning to the trailhead parking to end our hike to the High Falls of the Baptism River

Of course, we also encountered other individuals or groups doing what we were doing as we were merely content with visiting the falls before returning to the car and continuing with other waterfalling excursions along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

I’m sure the combination of gorgeously sunny weather along with the fact that we visited on a weekend further exacerbated the amount of foot traffic here.

Authorities

High Falls of the Baptism River resides in Tettegouche State Park near Silver Bay 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.

High_Falls_Baptism_River_009_09272015 - Julie and Tahia beginning the climb just as we left the trailhead and started the High Falls of the Baptism River Trail
High_Falls_Baptism_River_015_09272015 - For the most part, the trail to the High Falls of the Baptism River was shaded thanks to it being flanked by trees for almost the entire time
High_Falls_Baptism_River_017_09272015 - Roughly 20 minutes into the High Falls of the Baptism River hike, we encountered stairs descending towards the Baptism River
High_Falls_Baptism_River_021_09272015 - Our first glimpse of the High Falls of the Baptism River and the extent of its massive plunge pool shortly before crossing the suspension bridge over the river
High_Falls_Baptism_River_023_09272015 - Approaching the steel suspension bridge as the trail veered upstream from High Falls alongside the Baptism River
High_Falls_Baptism_River_032_09272015 - Julie and Tahia descending steps as we were entering the gorge carved out by the Baptism River
High_Falls_Baptism_River_034_09272015 - Julie and Tahia doing the final descent to the banks of the Baptism River in front of the High Falls
High_Falls_Baptism_River_038_09272015 - Our first look at the bottom of the High Falls of the Baptism River
High_Falls_Baptism_River_045_09272015 - We needed to keep a close eye on our daughter while at High Falls of the Baptism River from the banks of the river
High_Falls_Baptism_River_043_09272015 - Focused on the gushing High Falls of the Baptism River
High_Falls_Baptism_River_080_09272015 - Contextual look at the High Falls of the Baptism River from as far upstream as I was willing to scramble under these high water conditions

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We visited High Falls of the Baptism River as part of a very long drive between Duluth, Minnesota and Thunder Bay, Ontario along the scenic North Shore of Lake Superior.

The falls is within Tettegouche State Park, which is right off the Minnesota Highway 61 on its east (lakeshore) side about 60 miles (about 1 hr 15 minutes) north of Duluth and 130 miles (2 hrs 30 minutes) south of Thunder Bay.

The nearest town of significant size would probably be Silver Bay less than 5 miles to the south.

Once we took the turnoff into Tettegouche State Park, we then turned right at the next intersection, where we followed the narrow road (it’s a slow 15mph paved road) for another 1.6 miles to its dead-end.

There was a parking lot for trailhead parking (passing beneath Hwy 61 as well as providing access to other campgrounds and trailheads along the way).

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.

Checking out the High Falls of the Baptism River from the river's banks


Long movie checking out the brink of the High Falls of the Baptism River from both sides of the river

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Tagged with: tettegouche, state park, silver bay, lake county, baptism river, minnesota, north shore, lake superior, duluth, waterfall, great lakes



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of 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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