Oldenburg Point Cascades, Minnesota

When you visit Jay Cooke State Park, it’s likely that you’ll end up visiting Swinging Bridge Falls, which is an interesting waterfall viewed from what else but a swinging bridge. And yet there’s another waterfall in the park that you may not know to look for: Oldenburg Point Cascades.

I have to admit, though, that this might be a waterfall for only those really excited to see named waterfalls. It’s partly because it’s not particularly easy to see these Cascades. I would almost even describe them as rapids, except that some of these drops on the St. Louis River are more than just rapids. The picture I’ve shown here is a zoomed-in view of one of the set of cascades, which continue along the river for a few hundred feet. Not exactly rapids, but in some ways the repeating nature of the drops reminds me of rapids. If it were one drop, it wouldn’t be extremely interesting, but there do seem to be a number of subsequent drops, if my memory serves me.

Directions:

  1. I think we took exit 242 from I-35 and headed south along MN-1 into the town of Thomson.
  2. From there, take a left turn onto MN-210 and head toward Jay Cooke State Park.
  3. Drive along MN-210 to the Visitor’s Center. If you stop here, you will find Swinging Bridge Falls.  Continue on a short distance to another parking area for Oldenburg Point. (You can go much further because the road is closed due to storm damage.)
  4. From here, you may decide to walk the Ogantz Trail, or just explore the area around Oldenburg Point, likely seeing the cascades off along the river. (I wasn’t sure if there was a way to get down to the river to get a closer look…)

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~15′ total
Distance of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

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Zoomed-in view of the Oldenburg Point Cascades (August 2015)

Where in the World is Oldenburg Point Cascades?

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Amnicon Falls #2, Wisconsin

I am a bit surprised I haven’t already posted about this waterfall along the Amnicon River in Amnicon Falls State Park. I think it may be due to the way I named it on my photo site. It’s a smaller waterfall, but I’ll still mention it nonetheless.

Amnicon Falls State Park is one of those locations that is just plain enjoyable to explore. You’ll find a surprising number of waterfalls in the park: Upper Falls, Lower Falls, Amnicon Falls #1 and #3, Snake Pit Falls, and Now and Then Falls. You’ll find these along different trails. Amnicon Falls #2 is just another of the falls you’ll find!  And while you’re in the area, also check out Pattison State Park, where you’ll find Big Manitou Falls and Little Manitou Falls.

Directions:

  1. From Duluth/Superior, head east on US-2.
  2. Just after the intersection of US-2 with WI-53, you’ll notice a sign indicating that Amnicon Falls State Park is coming very soon.
  3. At the sign indicating the park, turn left onto County Road U.
  4. After a very short distance on County Road U, you will find the entrance for the state park. Stop and purchase a day pass if you need one. The ranger at the visitor’s center was extremely helpful at directing me to the falls and telling me how to get to Pattison State Park.
  5. Right near the visitor center, you can head right down a rather narrow park road to the end of the road, where you’ll find a parking area just a few feet from the river. Head upstream to find the unnamed falls.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy, more for the confusing loop of trails than anything else)
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles or so (can be longer)
Height: 6′

Amnicon Falls #2 in May 2010

Where in the World is Amnicon Falls #2?

Swinging Bridge Falls, Minnesota

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.

Directions:

  1. I think we took exit 242 from I-35 and headed south along MN-1 into the town of Thomson.
  2. From there, take a left turn onto MN-210 and head toward Jay Cooke State Park.
  3. Drive along MN-210 to the Visitor’s Center parking area. From there, the swinging bridge is about 0.1 miles away.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 12′
Distance of Hike: 0.25 miles round-trip

The left portion of Swinging Bridge Falls in August 2015

The right portion of Swinging Bridge Falls (one book refers to it as St. Louis Falls?)

Where in the World is Swinging Bridge Falls?

Upper Falls, Wisconsin

I’ve always wished people could become a little bit more creative when naming waterfalls. Upper Falls does clearly describe that is a waterfall further upstream along the Amnicon River, but it’s just not that exciting from a naming perspective! Even “Upper Amnicon Falls” would provide more information about where it’s located, and it could probably be referred to that way! There is the equally as exciting Lower Falls, which is actually pretty cool (as is Upper Falls). If you’re in the same park, there are two falls that were better named, Snake Pit Falls and Now and Then Falls. And then there are other drops that I don’t know if they really have a name, so I’ve called them #1, #2, and #3.

I mention these to indicate what you really get when you visit Amnicon Falls State Park is at least 7 waterfalls! Upper Falls is pretty neat, but you have to take all of them together to appreciate them. It’s a very nice park, and if I had family there, I would totally be taking them there all of the time. It’s really fun to explore all of the trails to find even more falls, even though they aren’t particularly tall. (Upper Falls maybe clocks in at 15′ or so…) And if this doesn’t excite you, don’t forget Big Manitou and Little Manitou Falls aren’t that far away (in Pattison State Park). (Big Manitou clocks in at 165′ tall.)

Directions:

  1. From Duluth/Superior, head east on US-2.
  2. Just after the intersection of US-2 with WI-53, you’ll notice a sign indicating that Amnicon Falls State Park is coming very soon.
  3. At the sign indicating the park, turn left onto County Road U.
  4. After a very short distance on County Road U, you will find the entrance for the state park. Stop and purchase a day pass if you need one. The ranger at the visitor’s center was extremely helpful at directing me to the falls and telling me how to get to Pattison State Park.
  5. Right near the visitor center, you can head right down a rather narrow park road to the end. You’ll see Lower Falls, and then you can head upstream to see Upper Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: negligible

Upper Falls in May 2010

Where in the World is Upper Falls?

Snake Pit Falls, Wisconsin

Northern Wisconsin has a number of great waterfalls, and if you’re looking to see a whole bunch in a single hike, then head to Amnicon Falls State Park (which is not that far from Pattison State Park, which contains Big and Little Manitou Falls). Inside Amnicon Falls State Park, there are the not-so-creatively named Upper and Lower Falls, along with other falls along the river (#1 and #3 have been posted). The waterfall with the coolest name, by far, is Snake Pit Falls, and it is a really beautiful waterfall also.

While it does require a little bit of exploring the loop trail, Snake Pit Falls is clearly marked with a sign. It’s hard to say how tall this portion of the falls is. After searching around on the internet, I later discovered there is another drop a few feet after the one shown below. I may have photographed the lower drop during the exploration, but I didn’t seem to notice both drops at the same time. The total drop is somewhere around 20′. I found this particular drop to be very scenic. Each of the drops along the Amnicon River seems to have its own distinct features. It doesn’t look like a series of continuous rapids that blend together over time. I’m guessing the falls flow year-round, except in extremely dry conditions. It had literally just snowed minutes before, lending a certain chilly but appropriate ambiance to the falls.

Directions:

  1. From Duluth/Superior, head east on US-2.
  2. Just after the intersection of US-2 with WI-53, you’ll notice a sign indicating that Amnicon Falls State Park is coming very soon.
  3. At the sign indicating the park, turn left onto County Road U.
  4. After a very short distance on County Road U, you will find the entrance for the state park. Stop and purchase a day pass if you need one. The ranger at the visitor’s center was extremely helpful at directing me to the falls and telling me how to get to Pattison State Park.
  5. Right near the visitor center, you can head right down a rather narrow park road to the end of the road, where you’ll find a parking area just a few feet from the start of the loop trail.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Snake Pit Falls in May 2010

Where in the World is Snake Pit Falls?

Amity Falls, Minnesota

Amity Falls in May 2010

Northeastern Duluth contains a number of waterfalls that are very easy to visit. One is known as Lester Falls (or The Shallows). Along a creek, Amity Creek, that runs nearly parallel with the Lester River, you will find Amity Falls. Amity Falls is the easier to find, though if you’re in the area, stop by and visit both. They are less than a mile from each other.

Amity Falls is found in Lester Park. There are numerous pathways that crisscross the park, and I wouldn’t even be surprised if there were some way to walk from Amity Falls to Lester Falls. I’m not sure how easy it would be to describe that path, though. After parking along the main road, you only have a short distance to hike to the falls. A pedestrian bridge crosses right over the falls. One great viewpoint is on the south side of the creek, though it does require a somewhat downhill climb. Another view of the falls is more easily accessed from the north side, though for some reason, I just don’t seem to remember the view being as good. While Amity Falls is not extremely large or tall, it is still a very enjoyable journey.

Directions:

  1. From Duluth, head north on MN-61 for a few miles.
  2. There will be a sign indicating the Lester Park. You’ll turn left onto Occidental Boulevard.
  3. Go down somewhat less than a mile until the road crosses the river.  Right around that area, you’ll find a makeshift parking area in along the dirt road.
  4. From there, it’s just a very short hike to the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Amity Falls?

Beaver River Falls, Minnesota

I visited Beaver River Falls over two years ago, so when I started trying to think back, I couldn’t seem to remember a whole lot about the falls. And then it came to me, glimpses of the falls…

I do distinctly remember it was very easy to visit Beaver River Falls. It is essentially a roadside waterfall, found along the Beaver River in Beaver Bay. There is a large, circular parking area directly adjacent to the river and falls, though there weren’t many people there. As I got out of my car, I remember thinking that this was a really beautiful waterfall, and yet it was equally….frustrating? There were a number of different segments to the falls, and it wasn’t simple to try and photograph the whole falls. So what you end up with is a number of pictures showing what would be interesting waterfalls by themselves, but you lose the totality of the impressive whole. And yet, it is fun to explore both upstream and downstream, trying to find the best vantage point to capture at least part of the falls. I ended up with at least two different views of the falls, and there may have been even more that I did not post.

An update from August 2015:  Looking back, I guess I’m not sure why I found Beaver River Falls so “frustrating”, though I guess I do agree that you can’t take a photo of the whole falls easily. The drops are close enough to classify it as one falls and yet far enough away to capture the whole thing. When I visited the park, it had been recently redone, and there was some very weak fencing (1′ or so high) that people had climbed over to see the falls. The trails are pretty obvious, though be careful during rainy weather, as the rocks near the falls can become very slippery. In August, there isn’t nearly as much water flowing over the falls (which is to be expected). (There may be a viewpoint from the bridge that allows for a complete view of the falls, but if so, it’s not obvious that there is…)

Directions:

  1. This is a very easy waterfall found directly off of MN-61. If you’ve headed northeast from Duluth, you’ll be driving along MN-61.
  2. In the town of Beaver Bay, you’ll find a large circular parking area directly next to the Beaver River. You’ll know you’ve gone too far if you go over the Beaver River bridge on MN-61. Turn around if you do, or visit on your return.
  3. From the parking area, it’s just a short hike downhill to the falls. (As mentioned above, there may be a good view from the bridge, but there’s not an obvious path to the bridge. I may have been distracted by the other trails.)

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 0.1 mile round-trip
Height: ~50-60′

A lower portion of Beaver River Falls

An upper portion of Beaver River Falls

The upper portion of Beaver River Falls in August 2015

Where in the World is Beaver River Falls?