After the flood
Jay Cooke State Park is one of the great recreational assets of the North Shore area. I feature it in every book I've written. It's got great ski trails, a terrific campground, and miles of diverse hiking.
But since the June flood, the park has been completely closed. All of the major roads leading into the park were severely damaged. Even the iconic Swinging Bridge over the St. Louis River was half-destroyed. As the salty old Mainer would say, "You can't get they-uh from hee-uh."
Today, the park reopened to the public, but just in part. Of the three main roads that led to the park, just one is open. And the Swinging Bridge won't be open again for at least another year.
To reach the main park facility, including the campground and visitor center, you have to come through the little town of Thompson. Take Exit 242 off Interstate 35 and turn south on Carlton County Highway 1. This leads you about three miles through Thompson and to State Highway 210. Turn left on 210, and it's about two miles into the park.
From the visitor center area, you can hike on the wide, mowed ski trails of the campground area or just stroll along the river bank. Say hi to the park staff, who have been working really hard to get the place reopened.
Secret inside information coming
Watch this space as ski season approaches. I know two "secret" back ways onto the park's excellent network of ski trails, including the long stretches of trail across the closed Swinging Bridge.
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