Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Diverse landscapes await on GFSP trails

Lower Falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park. Photo by Kieran Bignell.
Most visitors to Minnesota’s Gooseberry Falls State Park go to see the fantastic set of waterfalls that are within a few hundred yards of one another. But there are more landscapes and ecosystems to see at the park than those around the waterfalls.

Indeed, three general landscapes dominate the picturesque park.

The first is the shoreline with Lake Superior that largely runs south of Minn. Hwy. 61. Outcroppings of the ancient 1.1-billion-year-old basalt are common in this area just slightly above the waterline. The Picnic Flow Trail is an excellent route to explore the park’s shoreline.

The second zone are the hills rising sharply above the shore, mainly north of Hwy. 61. A variety of trees grow along the hills as the elevation changes, resulting in a range of micro ecosystems. The Superior Hiking Trail heads into and atop those highlands in the park.

A third zone is the Gooseberry River itself, which forms a gorge cutting through the hills and then flows in a shallow cut through the shoreline area. Rather than replicate the surrounding hills or shoreline, the river with its five waterfalls creates its own unique environment for plants. Two good trails to discover all the river has to offer is the Gooseberry River Trail and the River View Trail, the latter of which heads to the park’s iconic waterfalls.

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