Monday, July 27, 2015

Photo album of North Shore pink rock beach

Day hikers can stroll a beach of pink rock on Minnesota’s North Shore.

The stem trail and lakeshore at Iona’s Beach Scientific and Natural Area run 0.7-miles round trip. You probably won’t need to walk that far, though – the beach is a mere fifth of a mile from the parking lot.

To reach Iona’s Beach, from Gooseberry Falls State Park drive north on Minn. Hwy. 61. At milepost 41, turn right/east into the Twin Points Boat Launch. Veer to the parking lot on the left/north for Iona’s Beach.

From the wayside lot, a rustic trail heads past towering, fragrant pines with the dappled light of the sun sifting through the branches (below).


Part of the path to the beach is shared with the Gitche-Gami State Trail, so be careful of not continuing north on the bike trail when it splits from the route leading to the shoreline (below).


As closing on the beach, glimpses of Lake Superior appear through the pines (below).


In a mere thousand feet from the lot, the trail opens up to a scene out of a fairy tale – a beach of utterly pink rock, layered in wavy patterns as the baby blue waters of Lake Superior lap against it (below).


Stepping onto the beach, which stretches three football fields long, the piles of thin flat rocks crackle and crunch beneath your feet. The pink rocks come from a cliff of pink rhyolite at the beach’s north end. A point of ancient basalt at the beach’s south end (below) prevents the pebbles – known by geologists as shingles – from drifting southward, allowing them to pile up here.


The pinkness can be somewhat blinding. But not every rock is pink – there are a few rare gray ones in the mix that lovers who’ve previously walked here have gathered and placed into the shapes of hearts that stand out against the light rose stones.

There’s also a long tree log that’s been bleached to the color of chalk (below), and sometimes a white seagull will flit past, making its screeeee! call.


But mostly the beach is quiet as you sit upon the log and take in the vast lake (below), letting all of your worries fade with horizon.


After enjoying the sights, retrace your steps back to the parking lot. Here's a map of the trail:


Learn about more day hiking trails at and near Gooseberry Falls State Park in my Day Hiking Trails of Gooseberry Falls State Park guidebook.