Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park occupies the land surrounding the Split Rock Lighthouse, one of the most visited lighthouses in the country. The park is located outside of Two Harbors (2755 Split Rock Lighthouse Road) on the shore of Lake Superior and offers visitors many beautiful views of the Great Lake, as well as countless opportunities for hiking, biking, picnicking, fishing and, in winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Of all of these things, the following five should be at the top of everyone’s to-do list:
1. Tour the Lighthouse: The Lighthouse was built after many ships were lost in a fierce storm in November of 1905 and operated from 1910 until 1969. The lighthouse is open seasonally for tours and gives visitors the opportunity to view the lighthouse interior, lighthouse keeper’s home and other outbuildings on the site.
2. Visit the Pebble Beach: Pack a bag with a light lunch or just head down to the beach to skip some rocks. The beach provides excellent views of the lighthouse and is a great place to dip your toes in the water.
3. Bike the Gitchi-Gami State Trail: A four-mile section of the paved Gitchi-Gami State Trail lies within the park. From the trail, you’ll find a great view of the Middle Falls waterfall and will also catch a glimpse of the Upper and Lower Falls.
4. Hike the Split Rock River Loop Trail: With 12 miles of hiking trails within the park, there are many areas to explore. One noteworthy hike is the Split Rock River Loop Trail which has unique red rhyolite rock towers near the boundary of the park and a beautiful overlook of Lake Superior and the river valley on the east side of the trail.
5. Grab Some Binoculars and Go Birding: This is an excellent place for birding, especially in the spring and fall months when many birds migrate along the shore of Lake Superior on what is known as the North Shore Birding Trail. Split Rock State Park has been designated an Audubon Important Bird Area because of the presence of Peregrine Falcon aeries (nests). When you’re at the park, be sure to bring along a copy of the Split Rock State Park Bird Checklist in hopes that you can check off the Peregrine Falcon and many other birds.