For an adventurous and easy-to-reach North Shore experience, head for Gooseberry Falls State Park. It's just 45 minutes driving from Duluth, making it a comfortable day trip for many. Gooseberry is a lovely park, full of raging waterfalls, rocky shoreline and rugged trails.
To find the park, take the Visitor Center/Wayside Rest exit of Highway 61, twelve miles northeast of Two Harbors. You'll want to start your park experience at the Visitor Center parking lot.
In winter, you can SKI, SNOWSHOE and HIKE at Gooseberry.
SKI the 20 kilometers of groomed trails that climb the hills above the Gooseberry River and pass through open snowy woods. The trails in the park are groomed for classical skiing. Beginners will want to stay on the lakeside trail (Campground Loop), while advanced beginner and intermediate skiers will find a fabulous assortment of trails on the upper side of Highway 61. You'll reach these trails via an access trail from the Visitor Center that travels uphill and under the main highway bridge on the west side of the Gooseberry River (and you'll briefly share this access trail with other walkers, snowshoers, and possibly snowmobilers). To use any of the XC ski trails in this park, you'll need a Great Minnesota Ski Pass, available in the Visitor Center.
SNOWSHOE right up the banks of the river. If you've never used snowshoes before and want to learn, mark your calendar for Saturday, February 19, from 1:00 to 2:30pm, when Gooseberry Falls State Park will have a Learning to Snowshoe event. Pre-registration is required; use the park's snowshoes or bring your own. To find out more or to register, call 218-834-3855.
And you can HIKE down to the waterfalls, which are now beautiful tall columns of ice that gurgle. You'll reach the assortment of trails to waterfalls right from the Visitor Center.
Gooseberry's annual candlelight experience
On Saturday, February 19th, from 6:00 to 8:30pm, you can ski, snowshoe and hike...by candlelight! The annual Candlelight Ski, Snowhoe and Walk is the event on the North Shore for winter enthusiasts. Thanks to dozens of volunteers, ice luminaria illuminate the trails. The park visitor center fills with music and camaraderie.You won't want to miss this free opportunity to experience the magic of winter in this favorite North Shore state park.