As one of the most popular of the North Shore’s eight state parks, you can almost always expect to find visitors at Tettegouche State Park.
And one of the main reasons for this is the incredible views, but also the fact that you’ll find the impressive 70-foot tall High Falls of the Baptism River here.
Known as the tallest waterfall in the state, you can’t miss this must-see stop on your visit to the North Shore.
If you’re in Minnesota and haven’t visited High Falls in Tettegouche State Park yet, you better get over there and see it for yourself!
Tallest Waterfall in Minnesota: High Falls
If you’re visiting the North Shore in Minnesota, it’s unlikely that you haven’t heard of High Falls, found within Tettegouche State Park’s borders.
Dropping 70 feet over a rock wall into a huge pool in the Baptism River, surrounded by bright green pines and more stony outcroppings, it’s sure a sight to see.
This incredible waterfall is known as the tallest in Minnesota, although it does have a close competitor!
Way up in Grand Portage, the High Falls (I know, what a coincidence.) of the Pigeon River plunges 120 feet into a pool of water.
I know what you’re thinking; but… that’s way taller.
Yes, but High Falls of the Pigeon River is actually located partially in Canada, so it isn’t fully inside the Minnesota border.
So, if we want to get technical, yes we can say that it’s taller than Tettegouche’s High Falls, but when we’re talking strictly inside Minnesota, our High Falls takes the cake.
The Hike to High Falls in Tettegouche State Park
Distance: 2.9 miles
Elevation: 400 feet
Type: Out & Back
Estimated Time: 1.5 hours
Above you’ll find all of the stats for the hike to High Falls, so that you can prepare accordingly and know what you’re getting yourself into!
In all honesty, the hike is fairly easy. At only 2.9 miles roundtrip and not much elevation aside from the stairs at the end, it’s a good hike for most skill levels.
Trailhead to High Falls
Once you’ve reached the start of the trail, you’ll follow it and will soon reach a highway overpass that you’ll hike underneath.
Continue walking along the trail where you’ll come across some boardwalks and will be through the forest for most of the way.
About 1/2 mile from High Falls itself, you’ll come to the junction for Two Step Falls, which you can read more on below.
You’ll soon reach a set of stairs that begin the descent to the base of High Falls, but you haven’t quite reached the set of stairs.
The roaring sounds of the falls will be your first hint that you’re getting close while the ‘High Falls’ sign will affirm it.
Take a left at the sign that informs you of the 83 stairs coming up ahead of you. You’ll have a nice time on the way down, but the way up is another story.
Lower Falls is where you’ll get that epic view that is probably the reason you’re reading this post!
High Falls Junction to Upper High Falls
If you’d like to get a different perspective of the falls, head back up those dreadful stairs and continue onto the trail (take a left from here or straight from where you came).
You’ll have a viewpoint of the top of the falls, which gives you a real perspective of how tall they are!
You’ll also have the opportunity to walk across a swing bridge that is pretty iconic amongst locations on the North Shore.
From up top, you can really appreciate the beauty of the Baptism River and all that Tettegouche State Park has to offer.
Addition of Two Step Falls
After you’ve made your way back to the High Falls junction and are heading back towards the car, you’ll want to decide if you want to see Two Step Falls.
This smaller waterfall is found about half a mile back on the trail and is worthwhile, although getting there isn’t so easy.
Once you’ve reached the junction between the main trail and the spur trail to the falls, you’ll see a sign stating there are 200 stairs.
No, this isn’t some kind of sick joke… they actually mean it!
So start your descent and you’ll reach the Baptism River and a small, cascading waterfall known as Two Step Falls.
Now remember, that if you come to the bottom, you will have to get back up!
High Falls in the Wintertime
Believe it or not, High Falls is accessible in the winter, and boy is it a magical place to visit!
When the snow falls and covers the falls in a layer of shimmering frost, it makes it look like you’re in a true winter wonderland.
If you’re thinking of hiking to High Falls during the winter, use caution as the trails can be slippery, and consult with the visitor center to ensure that it’s safe.
Many people do walk out on the Baptism River to get closer to the frozen falls, but if there’s any running water, it’s recommended to stay away.
Again, you can ask the visitor center to see if they know the conditions of the river and whether or not it’s safe to walk on.
I would recommend having a pair of trekking poles and some crampons on to assist with traction while you hike.
How Do You Get to High Falls in Tettegouche State Park?
The most popular way to get to High Falls is to park at the Tettegouche State Park Visitor Center and begin the hike from there.
The visitor center is located on the right side of Highway 61, just under 5 miles north of Silver Bay.
There are bathrooms with flushing toilets, a place to fill water bottles, picnic tables, and a park store at the visitor center.
There are two options for parking; one right in front of the visitor center and one just a bit further down Park Road, which will get you closer to the trailhead.
From Duluth, the High Falls trailhead is about 1 hour away.
What is the Fee to Visit Tettegouche State Park?
All state parks in Minnesota require either a daily or annual fee.
You can either purchase the pass when you get to the park at the visitor center or online by clicking here.
The annual fee is $35 and that gets you entry to all 75 of Minnesota’s state parks for a full year.
For a day-use permit, the cost is $7.
What Else is There to Do at Tettegouche State Park?
Being one of the top visited state parks on the North Shore means that there is plenty more to do at Tettegouche State Park.
Below I’ll list a few of the top locations to visit in and around the park.
Shovel Point — Another of Tettegouche’s best hikes to an incredible viewpoint over the land and in a cove off of the shore. Just a short 1.2 mile hike gets you there.
Illgen Falls — Here’s another roaring waterfall within Tettegouche that’s just upstream from High Falls, but requires a separate hike.
Palisade Head — Probably the best viewpoint of Lake Superior is found at Palisade Head, just a few miles down the road from the visitor center.
Black Beach — While not within the park, this unique beach is made up of small black stones that make it appear to have black sand. It’s one of a kind in Minnesota!
Bean and Bear Lake Loop — One of the most popular sections of the Superior Hiking Trail leads to the Bean and Bear Lakes overlook, just 10 minutes from Tettegouche.
History and Pronunciation of Tettegouche
I will admit that when I first visited Tettegouche State Park, I had no idea how to pronounce the park’s unique name.
First, let me give you some (super) brief history on how the park came to be and where it got its name.
In the mid-1800s, the land was used for logging by Alger-Smith Logging Company who cleared much of the old-growth forest that was there.
Fast forward to the early 1900’s, a group of fishermen bought the land that is now the state park from the loggers and named it Tettegouche Camp.
The state of Minnesota got the land in 1979 and turned it into the state park that we know it as today.
The name Tettegouche is derived from a French-Canadian word meaning “meeting place,” which is exactly what the fishermen did here.
When pronouncing the word, say it as, “tet-uh-gooch.” NOT ‘Gucci.’ 😉
Where to Stay Near Tettegouche State Park
There are plenty of places to rest your head near High Falls including campgrounds, hotels, and vacation rentals.
I’ll list a few of each below, so you can choose which suits your family or group the best!
Hotels and Vacation Rentals
The closest city to Tettegouche State Park is Silver Bay, which is found about 5 miles away from the visitor center.
If you’re looking for a nicer place to stay with a rood over your head, check out these 2 places.
Cove Point Lodge — A beautiful lodge with cabins available on the shores of Lake Superior, offering a fire pit, outdoor gear rentals for guests, and breakfast.
Superior View Cabin — This large cabin overlooking Lake Superior features a beautiful wood interior, a huge porch, and a fire pit near the water.
Camping is another very popular ‘accomodations’ option while visiting the North Shore, and there are plenty of options near Tettegouche.
Black Beach Municipal Campground — 49 sites available with many including full hook-ups, perfect for an RV. Just 5 minutes from the park entrance.
Lake Superior Cart-In Campground — This walk-in only campground doesn’t allow cars, but puts you right on the shores of the big lake.
Eckbeck Campground — This primitive campground offers just the basics that a camper needs and is only 5 minutes from the visitor center.
Wrap-Up: High Falls in Tettegouche State Park
If you’re not convinced yet that you should plan a trip to see High Falls in Tettegouche State Park, then I’m not sure what else to say!
This incredible waterfall is surly one of the best places to visit on the North Shore and is highly worthwhile of making a stop.
I would say that it’s another thing to check off of the Minnesota bucket list that I’m sure you have going.