Lake Superior’s impressive beauty is something that regularly captivates visitors – and for good reason, since it’s the world’s largest freshwater lake! But, did you know the big lake is just the beginning when it comes to what the Duluth area has to offer? Here are some under-the-radar spots if you want to chase waterfalls and water features on your next visit to Duluth.
Chester Park is in the heart of Duluth’s East Hillside neighborhood. From the main parking lot at Chester Park, head downhill for a quiet looped trail alongside the creek, where you’ll see small but beautiful waterfalls – you simply won’t believe you’re in the center of the city. Head back up the trail, and you’ll find Chester Bowl ski area, recently restored and upgraded trails along the creek and a playground for the kids. Plus, on summer Tuesday nights, you’ll find live local music!
Tischer Creek Falls is another hidden gem, found in Duluth’s Congdon Park. The easiest spot to find this set of five waterfalls is by starting just across from Congdon Elementary School on Superior Street. From the trailhead, take the stairs down and you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by walls of red volcanic rock (seriously). You’ll cross bridges without ever seeing or hearing the neighbors nearby, and it’s an easy hike up to Vermillion Road and back, making it a great choice for families.
Lester Park has as lot to offer, especially when it comes to water. From East Superior Street, turn on to Occidental Drive and wind your way uphill. Nearly one mile in, you’ll see an area to park, and a walkway leading to a pedestrian bridge across gorgeous Amity Falls. But that’s not all. If you keep driving (or hiking) your way up Occidental Drive – otherwise known as Seven Bridges Road – you’ll have the time of your life counting the bridges (surprise…there are more than seven!). You’ll find a number of places to pull off and park so you can soak in the outstanding views of the creek and old stone bridges. This route takes you to Skyline Parkway and an incredible view from Hawk Ridge, but since we’re talking about water here, we’ll save more on that for another time.
The Lester River runs nearly parallel to Amity Creek, and yes, you’ll find a few cascades and waterfalls here, as well. Find parking on Lester River Road just off East Superior Street. Cross the bridge, and you’ll find a trail to the north, alongside the river. Or you can follow the river south as it flows out into Lake Superior. There’s another spectacular view (in both directions) from the bridge over the Lester River at London Road/Highway 61.
In Lincoln Park, located at 25th Avenue West and 5th Street, Miller Creek offers beautiful cascades you can enjoy while strolling the 1.5 mile walking trail in this park.
If you visit the Lake Superior Zoo in West Duluth, you’ll have a great view of the Kingsbury waterfall. Don’t miss the opportunity to hike the trail behind the zoo and (water-levels permitting) do a little rock-hopping along Kingsbury Creek in Fairmont Park. You’ll find the trailhead at the end of Waseca Street.
BONUS SPOT! This spot is technically not in Duluth, but it is in the closest Minnesota State Park to Duluth, just 20 minutes southwest of the city, near Carlton, Minnesota. Jay Cooke State Park is most well-known for its 220-foot swinging pedestrian bridge over the St. Louis River, but the entire park is full of beautiful acres with plenty of water features to find around every river bend. And, just a quick detour off of I-35, it’s a great spot to stop if you’re coming to (or heading home from) Duluth from the south.