There’s a new stop that visitors should make as they wander up Lake Superior’s North Shore: Black Beach.
Although long known to local residents and a few in-the-know tourists, the beaches (there are three) that make up Silver Bay’s new Black Beach Park have long been privately owned and fenced in an attempt to thwart visitors. Times change though, and this spring the area was opened to the public.
I finally visited the beach in August and was delighted with what I found: Three dark crescents of dark sand, crystal clear coves, a bit of driftwood, and a tall jumble of lichen encrusted rock – all of it backed by thickly forested hillsides or the lake itself. Basically a photographer’s paradise!
Potential visitors will discover that Black Beach is not well marked. (Even now no one is likely to stumble across it by accident.) To get there follow the road that runs through the industrial park and alongside the mine’s property back toward the lake. There are a couple separate parking areas that provide direct access to various parts of the beach. There are picnic tables and (apparently) plans to add camping facilities. This is considered a good swimming beach, as the years of dumping taconite tailings here created a bay with a broad sandy beach and warm shallow water – unusual features on this part of the lake. But this is still Lake Superior, so “good swimming beach” is relative . . . as is “warm.”
10/2016 Update: Apparently “Black Beach” wasn’t fancy enough, so now it is sometimes called “Onyx Beach” (particularly on Google). Google still won’t show you how to get there, but there are signs now. For the section of beach featured here (the best section as far as I’m concerned), follow the access road past the first parking area all the way to the end where the outhouse is located. There’s an almost hidden trail just past the outhouse that will take you to the beach. There were picnic tables, fire rings, and quite a number of other people there when I visited this summer. It’s still stunning.