Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Best trails for seeing the wonders of Minnesota’s Grand Portage S.P.

High Falls
Among the best ways to see the top sights of Minnesota’s Grand Portage State Park is via a day hike. Just three short trails and brief walk will allow you to enjoy each of the park’s highlights – the state’s highest waterfall, the international border, billion-year-old rock formations, and the Ojibwe culture.

Minnesota’s highest waterfall
The Pigeon River tumbles 120 feet over High Falls, and rainbows often are visible in its mist. A boardwalk off of the Falls Trail leads to fantastic views of the waterfalls for a 1.25-mile round trip hike.

International border
Most of the U.S.-Canadian border is an invisible line across the North American landscape. In the park, the Pigeon River forms a clear segment of that international boundary. The 1-mile round trip Falls Trail heads alongside the river.

Billion-year-old rock formations
About 1.1 billion years ago here, magma seeped into rock beneath the surface, cooled and hardened into diabase; the last several ice ages have exposed the erosion-resistant diabase, leaving them as ridges. Some of that rock forms and can be seen at Middle Falls, a 4.5-mile round trip via the Middle Falls Trail.

Ojibwe culture
Though not a day hike, the Welcome Center is an excellent location to learn about Ojibwe culture. The land making up the park actually is owned by the Grand Portage Indian Reservation and leased to the state. The center offers a number of interpretive displays.

Read more about day hiking Northeast Minnesota in my Headin’ to the Cabin: Day Hiking Trails of Northeast Minnesota guidebook.