Best summer destinations in USA

Crosby-Manitou State Park

DIFFICULTY Difficult-Strenuous


MAPS & PERMITS DNR George H. Crosby-Manitou State Park map. USGS quad: Little Marais. A Country State Park permit is required.

GETTING THERE Take Country State Highway 1 to Finland. Turn right on County Road 7 and drive about 7 miles to park entrance on the right. The trailhead is at the parking lot near Bensen Lake.

TRAILHEAD GPS 47° 28′ 42.1″ N 91c 6′ 39.8′ W

The George H. Crosby-Manitou State Park is the least developed in the state park system and that’s the way its namesake wanted it. There are none of the conveniences normally found at other parks. There is no campground, no comfort stations with showers or even a flush toilet. Primitive campsites accessible only by backpackers help to ensure that the visitor’s experience will be a true wilderness experience.

George H. Crosby, a mining magnate, donated the land for this park under the stipulation that it be managed so as to retain its wild nature. And wild it is. Hikers will find some of the most strenuous trails along the North Shore at Crosby-Manitou. There are many ascents and descents of hills and ridges, as well as the Manitou River gorge. Frequent open ridge tops provide panoramic views and an excuse to rest awhile; or you can rest in the cool spray of a Manitou River cascade, where the brown, tannin-stained water is churned to a froth. Along the way there are trees large enough to match the ruggedness of the land.

The Manitou River, the other namesake of the park, is Ojibwa for Great Spirit. The spray spewed out by the many cascades and falls make this an appropriate name. In his book, The Streams and Rivers of Country, Thomas Waters writes that the Manitou is unique among most of the rivers on the North Shore. The Manitou drains 103 square miles, including eleven small lakes and ten square miles of alder, tamarack, and cedar swamps. The water slowly released from the headwaters maintains a steadier flow of water then is typical of the other North Shore rivers. The last seven miles of this river flow through a deep gorge, the lower section of which lies within the park.

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