Fall in love with Minnesota’s Jay Cooke State Park

Fall at Jay Cooke State Park

I’ve seen Jay Cooke in winter

This story begins in the depths of winter, in February, to be precise, when we made a quick stop at Jay Cooke State Park on our way up to the North Shore.

We’d never been to Jay Cooke before, but I knew the park had a suspension foot bridge across the Saint Louis River, so we headed there for a good overview of the area.

Winter in Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

Winter in Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

One look and we knew we had to return in fall . . . the upturned rock in the riverbed would be interesting in any season when not covered with snow, but the mixed hardwood and pine forest above it would make a wonderful frame for the river when ablaze with color.

Now I’ve seen Jay Cook in the fall (it’s glorious)

So last week we were back and, yes, fall is a wonderful time to visit.

view from the swing bridge Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

view from the swing bridge Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

view from the swing bridge Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

While we thought the odd rock formations here would be fascinating any time, I really hadn’t realized that the whole river bed would be filled with waterfalls when not frozen!

Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

waterfalls Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

There are also a couple of easy-to-reach overlooks that feature broad vistas.

Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

(The Oldenburg overlook is located just past a picnic area.)

Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

(This is the view from the highway bridge. It’s really not necessary to hike anywhere to enjoy this park.)

While there was plenty of color right along the highway, the trees along the hiking trails were also showing off their seasonal wardrobe.

Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

Minnesota's Jay Cooke State Park - www.ExplorationVacation.net

It’s the perfect fall get-away.

 

Jay Cooke State Park is located just south of Duluth, in Carlton, Minnesota. This is a year-round park with something like 70 miles of trails for various uses, campgrounds and camper cabins, picnic shelters, and a winter warming house. Like all Minnesota State Parks, a permit (available at the park) is required. Note that the main road through the park (Minnesota Highway 210) washed out during a flood in 2012. Reconstruction of the road is underway, but is not scheduled for completion until fall 2017. Until that time, the park is split into two sections, making access to some areas a bit cumbersome.

Thomson Pioneer Cemetery

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4 thoughts on “Fall in love with Minnesota’s Jay Cooke State Park

  1. Thanks for this, Cindy. Beautiful as usual. I just got done with a chapter in my current book, where the protagonist, N. H. Winchell, spends a week in this very area, the Dalles of the St. Louis, sampling and examining. The basalt, of course, is part of the Duluth Complex, the molten rock that came up from the Midcontinental Rift.

    1. Thank you, Sue. We were just blown away by all that exposed, sideways rock. It’s such a cool place geologically.

      I’ll be very interested in reading about Winchell’s visit – are we talking about the end of the 19th century? I’m planning to do a post on the Thomson cemetery (how often do you get a graveyard along with your hiking trails!), so am hoping I can find some good info on it and a few of the people buried there. Most of the remaining grave markers seem to be 1880s/1890s.

  2. Jay Cooke State Park looks so pretty! I bet it’s just as pretty in the spring, with wildflowers and all… It always amazed me in the US how the state parks rival the national parks in beauty, and have much smaller crowds.

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