Ah, Agate Bay! Was ever a North Shore landmark more aptly named? The name makes me think of gravelly grit slithering under the foaming lip of a wave, bits of glassy agate shards glistening, maybe a herring gull rookery and the smell of wet lichen.
But the real, the only, North Shore Agate Bay is a thrill of another kind. Agate Bay is one of the two bays that make up...wait for it...Two Harbors. It's not exactly wavelets and lichen, more like the industrial link between the Iron Range and Lake Superior.
I had the opportunity to guide a few out-of-towners out on the breakwater that runs from the tip of Lighthouse Point out into Agate Bay. It's a one-of-a-kind North Shore experience, and not one to try on a stormy day. The sides drop off precipitously into deep,clear and cold Lake Superior, and there's only a cable railing.
The views are spectacular, both down the North Shore toward Knife River and into the harbor, where you get a rare view of ore boats at the docks.
My guests, from the Mott Foundation in Flint, Michigan, were impressed and only a little scared. One travels all the time for work, mostly to South America, and took the opportunity to leg it out on the flats. The other was more cautious, concerned about the drop-offs, wind and waves. Shortly after this outing, they informed the folks I'm working for that they'd get another two years of North Shore environmental funding. It must have been the walk across Agate Bay that convinced them.
To reach this unique North Shore spot, follow the signs off of Highway 61 in Two Harbors to the lighthouse. It's a turn toward the lake at the Dairy Queen. The route gets a little funky in downtown Two Harbors and through the Depot area.