Camping and Hiking at Gooseberry Falls State Park

We joined some friends for a night at Gooseberry Falls State Park this past June. Gooseberry Falls is 1,682 acres and offers trails (hiking, biking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling), access to the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT), camping (drive-in, kayak-in, group), picnicking, fishing, interpretive programs and exhibits, historic sites, and more. The park is most famous for a series of cascading waterfalls that are a short walk from the visitor center parking area. Gooseberry is by far the most popular state park along the North Shore, so if you prefer to avoid the crowds, you’ll want to visit during non-peak times (spring, fall, winter).

I’ve visited Gooseberry a few times in the past, including a fall colors hike with my mom and some of her friends, with Alex on a hike from Split Rock Lighthouse State Park along the Gitchi-Gami State Trail and back along a now-closed section of the SHT, and with Mya this past January. Winter is especially a nice time to visit (but be careful — I totally biffed it going down the stairs and landed hard on my derrière, bruising my tailbone and ego… just call me Grace!). Here are a few photos from previous trips:

This was the first time Alex and I camped at Gooseberry. It is a nice campground, but the sites are packed in pretty close together. There are vegetative buffers between most sites, but you’ll still hear and see other people during a stay, so again, if crowds are not your thing, you’ll want to avoid the peak times.

We arrived late in the afternoon. Jake, Andy and Angie stayed the night before and had already done some hiking during the day. After Alex and I got our tent set up, all 5 of us and our 5 dogs went for a hike along the Lake Superior shoreline.

After Jake, Andy and Angie left the next morning. Alex and I went for a hike up to Fifth Falls. It was an overcast day and we got rained on.

Eventually, we needed to find some shelter. First we stopped under the forest canopy, which provided some relief. Consulting the map, we saw there was a shelter on the west side of the river just past the falls, where we stopped to dry out a bit and wait for the rain to lighten up.

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We were supposed to stay one more night, but after hiking in the rain, our poor, fair-weather dog Hannah was a pathetic mess. Back at the site, we put her and Mya in the car to dry out, and even with the heat blasting, Hannah still shook uncontrollably. After wrapping her in a blanket, she started to warm up by the time we’d packed everything up and started to head home.

A trip isn’t as memorable if everything goes according to plan, right?