Every once in a while, I go on somewhat spur-of-the-moment trips. I found out that my dad was taking some vacation, so I tried to find someplace that my nephew, my dad, and I could visit. I found that I could get us to Duluth, which I had visited previously and wanted to return to. So I booked tickets and here we are.
In my previous visit, I drove along Minnesota’s North Shore, and we are doing that again. It is stunningly beautiful, so if you get the chance, go! I didn’t drive southwest of Duluth at all, though, and when I found there were waterfalls in that region, I decided we should check them out. Jay Cooke State Park is the location of a few different waterfalls/cascades. One (or two) is Swinging Bridge Falls.
I noticed that one book actually refers to two separate falls, Swinging Bridge Falls and St. Louis Falls (since it’s the St. Louis River). I’m just going to cover both of them as one because they are both at the same point along the river (separated by a small rock island) and they can both be simultaneously viewed from the Swinging Bridge (which is in it’s 5th iteration, having been rebuilt in 2013 after a bad flood).
Both falls aren’t too far away, and yet since neither of them is extremely large, it means it can be difficult to photograph either portion. I found that my zoom lens (55-300 mm) worked well for getting closer. You can climb over large, slippery (even when dry) rocks to try and get closer to one of the segments, but you really can’t get a good view of the falls up close. Best views are had from the swinging bridge.
- I think we took exit 242 from I-35 and headed south along MN-1 into the town of Thomson.
- From there, take a left turn onto MN-210 and head toward Jay Cooke State Park.
- Drive along MN-210 to the Visitor’s Center parking area. From there, the swinging bridge is about 0.1 miles away.
Distance of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Swinging Bridge Falls?: map