Waterfalls of Minnesotas North Shore: An Interview with the Authors
Eve and Gary Wallinga are St. Cloud residents who have a healthy obsession with water. This works out well for the artistic couple who love to visit Lake Superior and Minnesota’s North Shore. Showcasing their fascination with the area and its many incredible waterfalls, Eve and Gary published a book on exactly that topic.
The book is titled Waterfalls of Minnesota’s North Shore: A Guide for Sightseers, Hikers, and Romantics. Published by the Northern Wilds Media company based in Grand Marais, the book is a favorite on the shelves of many Cascade Vacation Rental properties.
With all the snow from the winter of 2018-19, there’s bound to be some impressive waterfalls on the North Shore during spring runoff and far into the summer months. In anticipation of a great year for viewing the falls from Gooseberry to Cascade and clear to the Canadian border, our team here at Cascade Vacation Rentals had the opportunity to sit down with Eve Wallinga and talk North Shore waterfalls. Here is our conversation:
Cascade Vacation Rentals (CVR): You literally wrote the book on North Shore waterfalls, so tell us, why are you interested in these natural treasures near Lake Superior?
Eve Wallinga: Minnesota is a lovely state, but a lot of the topography is a little ho-hum, especially in central Minnesota, where we hail from. However, that’s not so with the dramatic scenery of the North Shore. We find the battle between rock and water mesmerizing and thrilling. It’s amazing that after only a couple hours’ drive from the city, you can be sitting beside a thundering waterfall in a rocky river canyon with little, if any, signs of human civilization.
CVR: What might someone staying at a Cascade Vacation Rental property find interesting or useful in your book about waterfalls near the North Shore?
Eve: Most people have no idea how many really magnificent waterfalls exist all up and down the North Shore. Everybody knows about Gooseberry Falls, but most don’t know that Split Rock State Park, for example, has loads of waterfalls. Our book gives detailed directions to hundreds of waterfalls. No matter where you’re staying on the North Shore, a waterfall is near – some only a stone’s throw from your car, some that entail a pleasant stroll or a hardy hike. We want you to know what you’re getting into before you embark, so we tell you distance, trail quality, and how strenuous the hike is. We also rate each waterfall for star quality.
CVR: There are two editions of Waterfalls of Minnesota’s North Shore: A Guide for Sightseers, Hikers, and Romantics. What is new or different in the second edition?
Eve: To be honest, we wrote the second edition mainly for selfish reasons -- so we could have the fun of doing more waterfall exploring. We added waterfalls in Wisconsin and Ontario that could be reached as day-trip excursions from the North Shore. There are awesome waterfalls beyond the arbitrary boundaries of the Minnesota state line or the United States border, yet still can be part of a North Shore adventure. Also, our illustrations are now in color.
CVR: With so much snow this past winter, do you expect the spring of 2019 to be a great year for waterfalls on the North Shore?
Eve: We certainly would expect the rivers and waterfalls to be especially wild and wonderful this spring. Hopefully, the melt won’t damage trails though. Be prepared with extra shoes and newspaper on the floor of your car, in case things get a little muddy.
CVR: What month or even specific weekends might be a good time for someone to come view the many waterfalls on the North Shore?
Eve: One would think there’s an easy answer to that question, but we’ve become quite the waterfall connoisseurs, and our response is that it depends on the waterfall and what appeals most to you. To us, it’s much more than how much water is falling. Spring thaw would definitely be a great time, but we also value lower water summer months because the geology of the river and waterfalls are more visible. It’s a time that allows closer access with more places to sit and soak your feet. And really, when you get farther up the shore, water flow fluctuates less with the season than the rivers closer to Duluth. Late fall makes it easier to see waterfalls along rivers with more deciduous cover, like the Split Rock. But some of our favorite waterfall experiences happen in winter when you can snowshoe right up the river to a frozen waterfall – a wondrous sight you’re not likely to forget. So, in our opinion, there is really no bad time of year to visit waterfalls.
CVR: Do you have a favorite waterfall or set of waterfalls on the North Shore? Why is it your favorite?
Eve: We definitely have favorites. In fact, we have a list of them in our book. It’s hard to pick one favorite because they have different things to offer. We like to be able to get up close to the water, even feeling the spray on our faces. That’s not always possible with the really big waterfalls. The High Falls on the Pigeon are magnificent, but lack that intimacy. Partridge Falls on the Pigeon River is a bit of a rough drive, though we manage it in our little Toyota, if it’s not muddy, but it offers the spectacular and the intimate. That’s definitely one of our favorites. So is Cascade Falls, which is easier to get to. Easier yet is Beaver River Falls.
CVR: What are some safety tips people should keep in mind when looking at waterfalls on the North Shore?
Eve: I have to admit I had worries when writing this book, that we might steer someone on a path to a waterfall they might not otherwise have visited, which would inadvertently lead to their demise. Keep in mind that I am an anxious sort, so you can be sure that we addressed safety concerns in the book and perhaps erred on the cautious side when detailing directions. That said, most tips are rather obvious. Know where you’re going, we included maps in the book, bring water, bring a jacket, don’t get too close to the edge, avoid steep slopes down to the river – the risk isn’t worth it and it speeds erosion, respect the strength of the river.
CVR: Okay, now the last question we have been holding out for... can you share with us a secret spot to view waterfalls on the North Shore?!
Eve: We do include some lists in our book, including our favorite waterfalls, our favorite waterfall hikes, wheelchair accessible waterfalls, and even secret waterfalls. The thing is, though, that lots of the waterfalls in the book are secret, in that most people – unless you’re a local – don’t know they exist. They aren’t usually well-advertised, and often you can have the place all to yourself. Here’s one hiding in plain sight that many miss: Heading back home on Highway 61 after your vacation on the North Shore, pull into the parking area just after you cross the Beaver River in Beaver Bay and walk back along the highway bridge. Look beneath you to see one of the most magnificent waterfalls on the North Shore. It will definitely be raging this spring!
I’d also add Fall River Falls, which is a couple miles southwest of Grand Marais, just off of 61, with a bit of a steep, slippery descent I like to navigate on my derriere. It’s rare in that it drops about 30 feet down to the beach, so you have both waterfall and surf in one place. This is definitely one to visit when water is high.