Going up north for fall color? 10 things to eat and do while there
Sep 28, 2018 01:46PM
● By Editor
By AMY CARLSON GUSTAFSON | Pioneer Press
Track the progression of fall colors with the online Fall Color Finder, a trip-planning tool from the Department of Natural Resources. The North Shore Visitor webpage is a good place to look for stunning fall color drives and hikes, too.
FITGER’S BREWHOUSE BREWERY AND GRILLE
There is no shortage of options for a beer break on the way up. Duluth has become something of a beer lovers destination city. Canal Park Brewery, Lake Superior Brewing Company, Bent Paddle Brewing Company, and nearby Two Harbors’ Castle Danger Brewery are among the options to consider. For us, a stop at Fitger’s has become an annual tradition as we get ready to make our way up the North Shore. For beer lovers, Fitger’s tap list is extensive and impressive, but you can’t go wrong with a pint of Apricot Wheat. Mixing spicy wheat flavors with the sweet and tart taste of apricots, this refreshing, yet complex beer is a perfect sit-back-and-relax beverage to kick off your time up north.
Details: 600 E. Superior St., Duluth; fitgersbrewhouse.com
GREAT! LAKES CANDY KITCHEN
Don’t be surprised if you turn downright giddy when entering this darling candy store on the scenic two-lane drive from Duluth to Two Harbors. The sweet aroma will have your mouth watering and the visual stimulation from the dozens of different types of candies will make you a wide-eyed kid again. These third-generation candy-makers who follow long-held family recipes cook their sweet treats in copper kettles, hand-stirring small batches of chocolaty goodness all day long. Unfortunately, you’ll probably have to make some hard decisions among more than a half-dozen kinds of fudge, trays of almond bark, chocolate and caramel-dipped pretzels, caramel apples, gummy candies, chocolate-dipped cookies, rocky road bars and so much more. Our personal favorites include their homemade almond chocolate candy bars, dark chocolate-covered toffee and milk chocolate peanut clusters. Bonus: The folks behind the counter are as sweet as can be.
Details: 223 Scenic Drive, Knife River; Greatlakescandy.com
TETTEGOUCHE STATE PARK VISITOR CENTER
Just a couple years old, the visitor center at Tettegouche State Park is a must-stop when exploring the North Shore. A great place to get information about hiking (there are a lot of great trails nearby) and camping in the area, the visitors’ center has nice restroom facilities, a place to order coffee, a gift shop, naturalists programs, an interpretive hall, an outdoor fireplace and a small outdoor amphitheater space. With a beautiful stone fireplace welcoming you when you walk through the doors, it’s a perfect spot to plan your next hike.
Details: 5702 Hwy. 61, Silver Bay; dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/tettegouche
OBERG MOUNTAIN TRAIL
There are so many wonderful hikes to do along the North Shore. The Oberg Mountain Trail is a favorite because it offers plenty of breathtaking vistas for a moderate amount of work. And it’s an absolute stunner when it comes to fall colors. You could do the entire 3-mile loop in a little more than hour at a brisk pace, but we suggest taking your time and savoring the numerous overlooks where you can admire the views of Lake Superior, Oberg Lake and Moose Mountain. There are steep cliffs along the way, so if you’ve got little ones or have serious issues with heights take note. While the hike itself has some moderate inclines, you’ll see everyone from experienced hikers to casual leaf peepers on the trail.
Details: From Tofte, take Minnesota 61 North approximately 4½ miles. Turn left onto Forest Road 336 (Onion River Road). Proceed up Onion River Road for about 2 miles to the parking area on the left; pioneerpr.es/ObergMountainTrail
ANGRY TROUT CAFE
Yes, you’ve probably heard it before — “You’re going to Grand Marais? You have to eat at the Angry Trout.” And it’s true — the Angry Trout knocks it out of the ballpark every single time. When we were there last month, we had delicious locally caught herring that came with a showstopper salad packed with fresh greens, beets, wild blueberries, snap peas and other locally grown delights. Best of all it was topped with a juicy piece of sweet corn. Dedicated to using locally sourced food, the menus list all vendors, including the local blacksmith who made the outdoor chairs out of old tractor seats.
Details: 408 W. Hwy. 61, Grand Marais; angrytroutcafe.com
MOOSE VIEWING TRAIL
In my numerous visits to the Moose Viewing Trail, I have never seen a moose. I’ve seen evidence of moose — scat and tracks. But no moose. So why do I keep returning? Because there’s something serene about the short but rocky quarter-mile hike that leads to an overlook platform on the edge of a swampy moose-friendly area. There’s also an abandoned car buried under foliage and rocks on the path to the overlook that is fun to look at each visit — and, yeah, a little creepy, too.
Details: 24 miles from Grand Marais on the Gunflint Trail; pioneerpr.es/MooseViewingTrail
CHIK-WAUK MUSEUM AND NATURE CENTER
The charming Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center near the end of the Gunflint Trail offers multiple trails to explore, interpretive and interactive exhibits and naturalists programs. The museum itself includes information on everything from local animals and weather to the history on logging and the types of birds you’ll find nearby. My favorite part of our Chik-Wauk visit was watching numerous short videos about the folks who were instrumental in molding the Gunflint Trail’s history.
Details: 55 miles from Grand Marais off the Gunflint Trail at 28 Moose Pond Drive, Grand Marais; chikwauk.com
DEVIL’S KETTLE WATERFALL
There’s no shortage of waterfalls to visit while exploring the North Shore, but the Devil’s Kettle waterfall at Judge C.R. Magney State Park is legendary. Split into two falls, the eastern half filters water from the Brule River downstream to Lake Superior. Water from the river going over the western half of the falls is dumped into a pothole where it seemingly disappears underground. Researchers have used everything from dye to ping pong balls to determine where the water empties, but so far, the mystery hasn’t been solved. Devil’s Kettle is a short hike from the park’s parking area, but be warned — there are lots of steps. You’ll have to go down and up more than 200 of them to get to the Devil’s Kettle overlook. Luckily they’re well maintained and have a few benches to rest on while you catch your breath.
Details: Located 14 miles northeast of Grand Marais on Minnesota 61; dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/judge_cr_magney
NANIBOUJOU LODGE AND RESTAURANT’S CINNAMON ROLL
Walking into Naniboujou’s stunning dining room — the enormous stone fireplace and brightly colored walls inspired by the Cree — is treat enough. Add one of their gigantic cinnamon rolls to your breakfast order and you’ll be over the moon. It comes with a knife so you can share the deliciously gooey roll slathered with buttercream icing — there’s plenty to go around! Now that the historic lodge is up for sale, our fingers are crossed the next owners — whoever they might be — will keep Nancy’s Homemade Cinnamon Roll on the list.
Details: Located 15 miles northeast of Grand Marais on Minnesota 61: naniboujou.com
LITTLE SPIRIT CEDAR OR SPIRIT LITTLE CEDAR TREE (also known as the Witch Tree)
The twisted cedar tree growing out of the rocks along the shoreline of Lake Superior is sacred to the local Ojibwe who call Grand Portage home. The tree — which is estimated by some to 500 years old — has inspired artists, poets and musicians over the years and draws many tourists to the area. These days, due to vandalism and the tree being so meaningful to the community, if you want to take the short hike through the woods to see it, you must be accompanied by a member of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
When we were up on the North Shore last month, we did just that and it turned out to be an extremely meaningful experience.
We stopped at the impressive Grand Portage National Monument Heritage Center and asked the woman at the front desk for a guide to see the tree. She gave us a phone number of the local tribal office, which matched us up with an escort. We met Orlando “Dedo” Swader in the parking lot of the heritage center and followed him a short distance via car to the trailhead.
During our hike, Swader told us stories about the tree and filled us in on local history. When we got to the viewing platform, he reached in a pouch he was carrying and gave us each some tobacco to leave on the railing as a way to give thanks.
Swader says leading people to the tree is one of his favorite things to do.
“It means to me that I can come out here and give thanks,” he said. “Living up here is so beautiful and that’s one of the things I like to do is come up and see the tree every day. People drive by and don’t even know it’s here, so I like to see the beauty that’s right here. Even the little plants you see walking in — they’re gorgeous. I always like to walk people to the Witch Tree. I get a variety of people. It’s just something I love to do.”