Snow at Jay Cooke State Park, Minnesota

I’m not sure why, but in all the times I’ve driven by over the years, I never pulled off the highway to visit Minnesota’s Jay Cooke State Park. That changed recently, when I made a brief stop to see what I have been missing.

I knew about the park’s iconic swinging bridge – largely because it (along with a chunk of state highway in the park) was a casualty of the 2012 flood. While the (now rebuilt) bridge over the river wasn’t really a surprise, it was larger and a lot more substantial than I expected.

The real surprise was the rock. The park is filled with rock; dark rolling ridges of rock that bulge through the forest floor and burst out of the roiling waters of the Saint Louis River. Even draped under a light blanket of snow, the rock rules this landscape.

rock and snow

rock and snow

rock and snow

almost frozen river

ice and water

Standing on the bridge looking out over the river and all that rock, it’s clear that this park will be absolutely wonderful in spring (when the river roars below the bridge) and fall (when the leaves on the hardwood trees turn brilliant colors).

rock and snow

This may have been my first visit to Jay Cooke, but now that I have discovered this place, it won’t be my last.

Jay Cooke State Park is located just south of Duluth, Minnesota. The park is open year-round and has many miles of trails for those who like to cross-country ski, hike, and snowshoe.

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