Grand Portage State Park, Grand Portage National Monument, and Judge C.R. Magney State Park, Minnesota
After crossing the border from Ontario into Minnesota we made a few brief stops along Highway 61, hiked some short trails at two state parks and a national monument, and caught some great views of northern Minnesota. At Grand Portage State Park we hiked along the Pigeon River, which forms the international boundary, and saw the 120 foot High Falls. Because it was early, we were treated to patches of fog overhanging the river and a dewy mist that created a rainbow near the falls.
About ten miles south of the falls is Grand Portage National Monument, named (as is the state park) in reference to “the grand portage” that was required of fur traders who had to navigate around the High Falls on the Pigeon River. The monument also contains a reconstruction of the North West Company’s original major depot on Lake Superior, built in 1784 and used through 1802 when hostilities between the British and the United States forced the relocation of the company’s headquarters to Fort William.
Arriving before the monument opened, we decided to climb the short trail up Mount Rose, which provides a birds-eye view of Grand Portage Bay from three hundred feet up. We then descended and quickly toured the three reconstructed buildings (of the original sixteen) inside the palisades. Like the larger Fort William Historical Park, the national monument is staffed by historical interpreters and is furnished with period reconstructions, but after visiting the exceptional and larger Canadian fort a few days prior, there wasn’t much new here so we moved on fairly quickly after visiting the museum.
It should be noted that the north shore of Minnesota has a LOT of waterfalls. As in Ontario, we crossed rivers draining into Lake Superior often, but it seemed like the state was more eager to capitalize on their natural resources, creating multiple state parks to showcase their fantastic waterfalls and gorges. Just south Grand Portage was Judge C.R. Magney State Park, featuring the Devil’s Kettle waterfall, a 50 foot plunge on the Brule River. The water here spurts through a narrowing of the gorge and swirls in the pool at the base of the falls.