Kyle Kotajarvi

Lake Superior North Shore


I’ve been working a full-time job for the past three months (so excited to quit soon) and haven’t had a chance to get outside much.  While traveling in the summer is much more expensive than traveling in the off-season, being inside for 40+ hours a week has been tough on me mentally, and I haven’t road tripped anywhere since May.   To alleviate some of the stress I’ve experienced over the past few months, I decided to treat myself to a short trip up to Lake Superior’s North Shore.  

After finishing a stressful workweek, my brother Ryan and I departed Saint Paul towards Duluth late Friday evening.  The plan was to stay at my sister’s apartment in Duluth on Friday night and then depart early Saturday morning.  

We arrived in Duluth at about 8 p.m. and headed down to Canal Park.  For those of you who don’t know, Duluth is a seaport city located at the westernmost point of the Great Lakes .  It’s home to the Duluth-Superior harbor, which is the Great Lakes’ largest port.  The city is also home to the famous Aerial Lift Bridge, which is an extremely rare transporter bridge (a moveable bridge where the roadway is essentially a vertically ascending gondola).  

We walked around Canal Park for a bit before meeting my sister and her boyfriend at Canal Park Brewery.  We ate some overpriced food and then hurried to her apartment to get some sleep.  As the plan was to wake up at 4:45 the following morning, getting to sleep early was necessary. 


I woke up at 4:00 this morning to the sound of rain pounding the windows of my sister’s apartment.  I glanced at my phone to see my sister (who was staying at her boyfriend’s apartment) had asked me whether we were still leaving.  I hurriedly checked the weather on my phone, which informed me the aforementioned storm would (probably) pass before sunrise.  I would take those odds.

After coercing my brother Ryan awake.  My sister Lauren and her boyfriend Tucker arrived and we were ready to go.  We jumped in the car, and with me at the wheel, we departed towards Palisade Head, which was about an hour from Duluth.  

My number one goal for the day was to watch the sunrise at Palisade Head, which is cliff-face that rises almost 200 feet above the lake.  

I was a bit nervous as we made the short hike up the access road towards the edge of the cliff as the clouds swirled overhead, but as we found a suitable overlook, the clouds broke and we witnessed one of the most amazing sunrises I’ve ever seen.  

We enjoyed the views of Palisade Head for about an hour before we headed back to the car to proceed farther up the shore to Shovel Point, which is located in Tettegouche State Park. 

Shovel Point, which is also known as Little Palisade, is a small strip of land that juts about 1/4” of a mile out into Lake Superior.  The hike isn’t much of a hike, but rather a wooden path that ascends the lakeside cliff and then descends to lookout on the point of the peninsula.  It’s truly an incredible hike and offers incredible views looking both up and down the lakeshore.  

We explored the Shovel Point area for awhile before we headed back down to Two Harbors to grab some food.  As we hadn’t really eaten all day, the back tracking was worth it, yet time consuming.  After filling out stomachs with fast-food goodness, we again headed north on Highway 61 to Temperance River State Park.  

Temperance River State Park does not look like it should be in Minnesota and in my opinion, is probably one of Minnesota’s better-kept secrets.  The trailhead, located directly west of Highway 61, links up with the Superior Hiking Trail and follows the river gorge inland.  The gorge features a few waterfalls and squeezes the river tightly for about half a mile before the river expands east of the Sawtooth Mountains.   

The trailhead east of Highway 61, though very short, has views of the river emptying into Lake Superior.  I also snapped some pictures of today's crew.  

The stop at Temperance was definitely one of the highlights of the day and after it we were completely exhausted, so we thought it best to start heading back towards Duluth.  We made some pitstops along the way at Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls.  

I don’t have much to say about these areas, as we were only there for a short period of time, but I can definitely tell you they were very overcrowded.  

Here's some assorted photos from those stops.  


I will be posting a Guide for this trip, soon, so look for a more informative post, soon.