As some of you may have guessed, I headed up to the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota with my family and my parents for a vacation that was sorely needed. We were looking for a place to expose my young children to some of the things I did as a child with my parents and yet get there in a reasonable time frame. The north shore fit the bill nicely.
On our way north to our condo that we rented for a week in the Iron Range mountains next to Superior about three fourths of the way up the coast towards Canada, the kids in the car were getting a little antsy so we stopped by a place I have known about for a couple decades, Gooseberry Falls.
Gooseberry Falls actually consists of five falls in a short stretch of the Gooseberry river as it tumbles down from the mountains into lake Superior. Twenty years ago when I made my first trip there, it consisted of rugged dirt trails and a small gravel parking lot just off the road. I could reliably head up to it and have the entire falls area to myself for an hour or two at a time to photograph or enjoy as I please.
These days, the falls area looks more like the picture below. The parking lot has increased in size by about 1000% and is paved. There is a HUGE welcome center and paved trails leading to the falls along with plenty of signage up near the highway. This time when I stopped, there were cars backed clear up to the highway because the parking lot was full and at the middle falls seen in these pictures, there were probably 120 people within eyesight the entire two hours we were there.
I'm glad people are getting out and enjoying nature because I think that it is important but the secret is most definitely out on this place. There was trash everywhere and if you are like me and like photos without people in them, you are reduced to taking closeup shots like the picture at the top of the post. You can't expect to come to a place like this and lose yourself in the beauty because you have to deal with people all around you. Now with paved trails, stairs and plenty of signs, anyone can come to see these beautiful falls.
The one saving grace is that 99% of the people that come to see these falls and others like them will only see the middle few falls because they are the ones with paved trails and are close to their cars. Hike just two minutes up the trail and the number of people around you disappear until it is just yourself. People like the idea of nature but for the most part are two lazy to get out and enjoy it. I hope this stays true for the time being because there was a lot of beautiful things I got to see over the course of the week that just a handful of others compared to the hordes that now descend upon Gooseberry Falls on a daily basis get to see.
Below is a picture of Gooseberry Falls I took 20 years ago when I had the place all to myself.