There’s a new stop that visitors should make as they wander up Lake Superior’s North Shore: Minnesota’s Black Beach.
My first visit to Silver Bay’s 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, Minnesota’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 opened to the public.
Photographing the North Shore’s only Black Beach
I finally visited Black Beach in August 2015. The beach is a delight, with 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!
Black Beach is considered a good swimming beach, as years of dumping taconite tailings here created a bay with a broad 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.”
Planning a visit to Black Beach
Silver Bay is on Lake Superior’s North Shore. It’s a little over three hours north of Minneapolis – if you don’t give in to temptation and stop in Duluth or elsewhere along the way. The beach itself is about an hour north of Duluth, making it an easy stop from anywhere along the lower part of the North Shore.
Finding the beach
Black Beach (apparently also called “Onyx Beach”), is below and to the north of the city of Silver Bay. (Most of the city is on the hill above the lake.) The beach is accessed through the city’s industrial park – the easiest access is located between Northshore Mining and before the AmericInn. There was a sign marking that road the last time I visited.
Once on the dirt road that runs along the lake, there is beach access in a couple of places.
Find the section of beach featured here by following 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. I think this is the best section of beach. However, it is all gorgeous.
There were picnic tables, fire rings, and quite a number of other people at the beach when I visited last summer. Even with all the other people, it’s still stunning.
There are a couple of hotels right in Silver Bay itself and more in nearby towns. Check out your options, reviews, and prices on TripAdvisor. (Using this link may give me a small commission at no charge to you.) Note that many small resorts will require that you contact them directly to actually book your room.
Tettegouche is the nearest state park. Camping is available in the park, but must be booked online. Same day bookings can be made when available.
Many hotels – and even campgrounds — will be fully booked during summer. Plan ahead if there is a particular place you want to stay!