Sunday, September 13, 2015

Beach hike offers chance to hunt for agates

Flood Bay, looking northeast.
Topo map of Flood Bay Beach.
Day hikers can search for agates at Flood Bay Beach on Minnesota’s North Shore.

The crescent-shaped beach with a panoramic view of Lake Superior runs about 0.9-miles round trip if walking from the parking lot to one end of it then to the other end and back to the lot.

To reach Flood Bay, travel north from Two Harbors on Minn. Hwy. 61. About a mile north of town, between mileposts 27 and 28, look for signs to the wayside/beach and turn right/east into the parking lot. From the lot, take any of the short paths east to the beach.

Flood Bay is a natural harbor. Ancient lava flows make up the rocky points at either end of the beach.

The majority of the pebbles on the beach are volcanic rocks. You can hunt for agates here; there are plenty of tiny ones, but for those with patience, many larger agates buried beneath the pebbles remain to be found.

There’s plenty more to see on the beach than agates, though. After storms, driftwood washes up in piles onto the shore. Ducks, geese, beaver and – during spring – even otters often can be spotted here.

The bay was named for a settler who operated a steam sawmill on the beach in the 1850s.

A side note for budding geologists: The boulders edging the parking lot are not from the beach or immediate vicinity. The state placed them there as decoration.

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