Illgen Falls may not be the most well-known waterfall on the North Shore, but this waterfall makes the top of our waterfall list. This is because of the great vantage point for viewing the falls. This waterfall is approached and initially viewed from the top. Most area waterfalls are viewed from below. Also, if desired, Illgen Falls visitors are able to walk right up to the river and falls. From this viewpoint, you can experience the power of Illgen Falls. Even during dry periods, you’ll likely find water rushing down the falls.
Located in Tettegouche State Park, Illgen Falls is a bit more challenging to reach than the State Park’s other waterfalls. See the “Getting There” section for information on how to reach this unique waterfall.
When visiting the falls, you will notice that they are surrounded by huge, round boulders that follow the plummeting water to the bottom. Explore the top of the falls, if the water level permits. There, you will find ancient potholes that were carved by the constantly running waters and the huge tumbling stones.
Know that during Waterfall Season in April the Baptism River widens slightly and can be dangerous. Use caution when exploring the falls during Waterfall Season and after heavy rains.
How Illgen Falls Got Its Name
Illgen Falls is found next to the location where Illgen City once stood. The city came to be when a man by the name of Illgen built a hotel that was said to be the finest hotel from Duluth to Thunder Bay. The hotel resembled the inns of Old Mexico and included a large bar complete with slot machines and expensive alcohol. These things supposedly attracted Chicago’s criminal elite, including Al Capone and company, who stopped by on their way to secret northern lodges.
From Silver Bay: Turn left (north) onto Highway 1, about 6.5 miles north of Silver Bay. About 1.6 miles up the road you will see a parking area on the left (west) side of the road. Park in the parking area and follow the trail that leads hikers away from the road and toward the sound of the falls. The area is easily accessed by following the trail past the cabin to the waterfall (it takes less than five minutes to walk from the parking area).
Explore Nearby Waterfalls
Tettegouche State Park, located at 5702 MN-61, Silver Bay, MN, is home to four waterfalls including Illgen Falls. The other three falls are easier to get to from the Tettegouche State Park parking area. Explore the Cascade Falls, Two-Step Falls, and the 60-foot High Falls. All are located downstream from the 40-foot Illgen Falls on the Baptism River.
To explore the other three falls, enter Tettegouche State Park located right along Highway 61 just outside of Silver Bay, MN, and continue past the Visitor Center. Follow trail signs for the hike to the High Falls at the park trail center.