When most people think of Gooseberry Falls State Park, they think of the well-known falls that reside within the park. Though the falls are incredibly beautiful, they also undermine another gem in the park: Agate Beach.
Agate Beach is found at the mouth of the Gooseberry River where the water from the river meets Lake Superior. As its name suggests, the beach is a great spot for searching for prized Lake Superior Agates.
One of the most interesting things about the mouth of the river is its ever-changing beach and sandbar. Each season affects the formation differently. Melting snow in the spring results in a heavy flow of forceful water rushing down the river, wiping out the sandbar. Calmer summer weather builds up the sandbar and fall’s powerful storms and winter’s beautiful ice formations shift the rocks even more. Since the beach is constantly transforming, you’ll likely feel like you’re on a new beach each time you visit.
After you’ve spent time at the beach, be sure to check out the Belle P. Cross anchor nearby and the Picnic Flow, a bed of ancient rock formed by lava over a billion years ago. Log and stone picnic tables built by the Civilian Conservation Corps are available for visitor use.
To get to the beach, drive to Gooseberry Falls State Park (about 13 miles north of Two Harbors on MN-61). Take a right (toward Lake Superior) into the park and follow the signs to the lakeshore parking area. After parking, follow the trails from the parking lot to the mouth of the Gooseberry River.
The fascinating Black Beach is found in a secluded area near Silver Bay, MN. Since the shore of the beach is a unique black color, visiting this beach is said to be a very strange experience and is one of a kind on the North Shore. In other words, it’s a must see! The strange black coloration is not natural. It came as a result of the taconite tailings that were dumped into the lake by local miners years ago. Taconite is a low grade iron-ore that is refined, then baked, creating taconite pellets that are easily transported. Decades ago, the unusable taconite waste was dumped into the lake until the locals were fed up.
Local fisherman quickly complained about the water quality and demanded that taconite dumping be stopped. One fisherman even protested that the water visibility had diminished to just a foot or so from the original water clarity of around 55 feet. The fight was long and grueling as many families and local businesses depended on the lake for fishing, but many also depended on the taconite plant. The local fisherman won the fight and the dumping of the taconite ceased around 1980. Since then, the remains of the taconite have made their way to the beach, creating a gorgeous black sand beach. The visibility has also cleared and fishing is better than ever. Beautiful rust colored cliffs line the landscape, and visitors can climb to the top and enjoy a view up and down the shore. The pictures taken at this point are breathtaking!
The city of Silver Bay and the state of Minnesota began leasing the land in 2015, opening it up for public use. Until the lease took effect, visitors were not allowed on the beach. So, being able to step foot on the beach is pretty special!
Driving north on Highway 61, take the first right just past the traffic light in Silver Bay. Turn right road marked “Black Beach”. Follow the road until it comes to a “T” and turn right. Continue a quarter mile and park in one of the designated parking areas on the left side of the road. There are technically three beaches along the road. Park in the last parking lot for direct access to the beach with the black shoreline.
The name of this beach speaks for itself. Flowing out of the surrounding hills, Crystal Creek is full of multicolored stones and the beach is truly majestic. White northern trees surround the area and the sea caves seem to hide hidden treasure or secrets.
This may be the reason why founders of 3M chose this location to mine for minerals. The company spent a year mining what they thought was corundum—a stone they thought they could use to fashion their own type of sandpaper. Finally, in the winter of 1903-04, they shipped a ton of the ore to Duluth, only to discover they had made a mistake and the ore was useless. 3M quickly packed up and moved on (still to this day you can find discrete remnants of the old foundation near the beach).
A steep, narrow hike down to the lake reveals a beautiful, hidden cove. The beach is secluded enough that most of the time you will be the only traveler on the beach. There are sea caves in the cliff face and on the beach where you will find a mix of different colored stones.
Drive north (east) on Highway 61 from Silver Bay. A quarter mile past Highway 1 and five miles north of Silver Bay, cross the “overpass” for Crystal Creek (marked by a green sign) and park on the right side (Lake Superior side) of the road just past the bridge. A very steep, narrow and winding trail that begins next to the bridge/overpass leads down to the beach.
There are not many sandy beaches along the North Shore of Lake Superior. In fact, there are only a few. One of them with beautiful fine-grained sand is on a stretch of beach within walking distance from Canal Park in Duluth. It is known as the Franklin Square/12th Street Beach and it is a perfect spot to enjoy an afternoon. Tree and shrub protection from the busy streets make it a peaceful and an incredibly enjoyable spot to visit. And, the beach provides respite to many travelers (especially those with kiddos) who need a break before traveling up the shore from the south.
Along the beach are hiking trails, swimming access and bird watching spots, allowing visitors to enjoy the day in the sun and away from all the tourist attractions. The waves crash along the shore during the windy fall and winter months making for a wonderful sight to see.
Along highway 35 follow signs for Lake Avenue in Duluth. Follow Lake Avenue all the way across the Lift Bridge until you see signs for 12th Street Beach.
Just north of Two Harbors, across the street from the legendary Betty’s Pies (which we highly recommend) is a small, dark cobblestone beach named Kelsey Beach. The beach is made up of fascinating forms of stilled lava and parts of it are covered with small cobblestones. It is rumored that the beach has some sort of mystical power. Visitors often say that the beach is a sanctuary that fills them with peace and tranquility each time they visit.
Nearby, the Stewart River flows under a concrete arch bridge. The river is named after the settler, John Stewart, who used the river for log driving operations many years ago. Today, the river makes for a perfect spot to explore, relax or even take a dip.
To get to the beach, drive about three miles northeast of Two Harbors. After crossing the Stewart River Bridge near Betty’s Pies, turn right immediately. A short path from the parking lot will lead you to the beach.
Looking for agates or a great public beach to visit near Grand Marais? Paradise Beach is the place to go! This long cobblestone beach is a perfect place to take a leisurely stroll while keeping your eye out for your next big payday!
Paradise Beach is also a very close to an entry point for the Superior Hiking Trail making it easy to take a hike and enjoy the views of the lake. There are also picnic tables located along the shore for enjoying a nice lunch (who does not love a meal on the shore with the sound of freshwater waves crashing on the sand?).
Private development is slowly cutting away at the shores, so we must do everything we can to cherish such quaint places. At Paradise Beach, you will have miles to stroll and let your mind wander. It is a unique perfect place on Lake Superior that makes it easy to enjoy a calm, peaceful day away from everything in the world.
The pullout is just north of the Kadunce River on Highway 61, 8.5 miles northeast of Grand Marais.
Although very rare, there are spots to surf on Lake Superior! One of these spots is named Stoney Point. Located about ten miles north of Duluth, this little spot on the beach is best known for its enormous freshwater waves. The lay of the land and great power of the lake make this spot a favorite for local surfers. Some of them even say it competes with the best surfing locales in the world. Even during the winter months, you can find surfers in full wetsuits trying to get in just one last ride. Stand back as sometimes the waves can spray all the way to the road.
Stoney Point is also a great spot to stop, even if you are not interested in surfing. In good weather, you can explore the black basalt lava flow that is marked by gouges and ridges left behind by glaciers more than 12,000 years ago. This is a great spot to view Lake Superior – you don’t even need to get out of your car (though we certainly recommend it). Pull off the road and prepare to be amazed by the fascinating shoreline and whirling waves of Lake Superior!
Head north of Duluth on Highway 61 for about 10 miles. Turn right on Alseth Road and follow it for about a mile all the way to Stoney Point Drive. Follow the road for outstanding views of Lake Superior.
Looking for a relatively short and easy hike filled with amazing views and breathtaking nature, or just a quiet spot to relax near Lake Superior? Sugarloaf Cove is the perfect spot for you! It has a trail that winds through all different sorts of terrain, and a rocky shore that overlooks the majestic Lake Superior.
The Cove sits on 34 acres with a trail that stretches over a mile. The trail passes through pine forests, an alder thicket, a scenic overlook, rocky cliffs, and all the way down to the rocky shore. Don’t be afraid to stop for a minute on one of the many benches along the way and take in the beauty.
What makes Sugarloaf Cove even more interesting is that it is actually designated as a State Scientific and Natural Area. But it also has some historic significance. Consolidated Papers, Inc maintained several buildings here where they held pulpwood-rafting operations. Near the beach you can see signs with photos from the area from that time period.
In addition to the beautiful scenery, Sugarloaf Cove has an interpretive center that has many exhibits on North Shore geology, wildlife and history. Special programming and events are also offered and open to the public. For an full calendar of events, visit sugarloafnorthshore.org/calendar/
Sugarloaf Cove is located on Highway 61 between mile marker 73 and 74, six miles south of Schroeder, Minnesota.