CASCADE RIVER STATE PARK
LENGTH 3.0 miles
DIFFICULTY Moderate with one very steep climb.
MAPS & PERMITS DNR Cascade River State Park map. USGS quad: Deer Yard Lake. A Country State Park permit is required.
GETTING THERE The park is located in Cook County 9 miles southwest of Grand Marais and 21 miles northeast of Tofte on U.S. Highway 61. Enter the park and follow the signs to “trail parking.
TRAILHEAD GPS 47° 42′ 32.9″ N 90° 31′ 16.9” W
Lookout Mountain lies just outside the Cascade River State Park boundary along the Superior Hiking Trail. While the circuit hike to Lookout Mountain is a relatively short three miles, a portion of it involves a steep climb to the summit that gives it a moderate to strenuous degree of difficulty. However, once at the summit, there is a great overlook of the forested interior of the rugged North Shore. Here you can catch your breath and enjoy lunch or a snack. You can also rest easy knowing that the rest of your journey is all downhill from there.
As it heads west from the trailhead, the route crosses the Cascade River and then Cascade Creek, which is not a tributary of the larger river but flows directly into Lake Superior. The steepest part of the hike comes after the creek as the trail climbs to the summit of Lookout Mountain. Lookout Mountain, and its attending ridge, is supported by diabase, a type of igneous rock injected into the cracks of older rocks below the Earth’s surface where the molten material hardens. There are a couple of benches at the overlook, but if you walk beyond them out onto some rock ledges you will get better views. From the overlook, you can see east and north across the forested drainage of Cascade Creek to other ridges rising above forested valleys.
During my rest at the overlook, a flock of cedar wax-wings came over the mountain from behind me and drifted down into the valley below.
With the bright sunlight shimmering off the silky texture of their feathers, they seemed a harbinger of fall. The swooping turns they made through the air made them seem like the yellow leaves of autumn that would soon be flying on the wind. On the ground nearby, a Black-throated Green Warbler hunted insects. This bird with a green back, yellow cheeks, and black throat was bulking up for a long migration flight to Central America.
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