A Little Time and a Keyboard: Scaling Unique Rocky Terrain and Waterfalling at Jay Cooke State Park in Minnesota

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Scaling Unique Rocky Terrain and Waterfalling at Jay Cooke State Park in Minnesota

Scaling Unique Rocky Terrain and Waterfalling at Jay Cooke State Park in Minnesota

Scaling Unique Rocky Terrain and Waterfalling at Jay Cooke State Park in Minnesota

Jay Cooke State Park on the St. Louis River in Carlton, Minnesota affords a unique landscape for hiking as adventurers navigate rock formations to enjoy fantastic views. The intriguing geology of the park consists of slate and greywacke  folded and fractured by earth movements and underground pressure. Red clay and silt overlaying the bedrock was laid down during the Ice Age. The distinctive rocky landscape will inspire exploration as nature enchants.



Spying a cascade at Jay Cooke State Park in Carlton, Minnesota
Spying a cascade at Jay Cooke State Park.

With the rocky terrain, hiking can be challenging. However, one of the park's most frequented sites is easy to get to. Visitors commonly savor a walk across the Swinging Bridge absorbing spectacular views of the St. Louis River, waterfalls and breathtaking terrain. The bridge is conveniently located near the visitor center.

Swinging Bridge provides a popular way to view the landscape at Jay Cooke.
Swinging Bridge provides a popular way to view the landscape at Jay Cooke.
The first Swinging Bridge at Jay Cooke State Park was constructed by the Forest Service in 1924 with logs and rope. Over the years, the bridge has been destroyed and reconstructed several times. Fortunately, the Swinging Bridge still crosses the St. Louis today awing us marvelous views!

Cascades viewed from the Swinging Bridge at Jay Cooke State Park in Minnesota.
Cascades viewed from the Swinging Bridge.

From the bridge, we delighted in viewing cascades. Really, one could pause here for awhile. But, there is more to see on the other side of the bridge.


A variety of promontories lend to fantastic views after crossing the bridge. If you take your time, you can cautiously climb to a number of view points to view the area from above. There also are additional hiking trails up on the bluffs.

Viewing the captivating landscape from a promontory at Jay Cooke
Viewing the captivating landscape from a promontory.

We took in several views from above and then headed back to cross the Swinging Bridge for another view as we crossed. How can you not pause while surrounded by a striking landscape?


 Enjoying a view of the St. Louis River in the other direction:

The St. Louis River presenting a picturesque view.
The St. Louis River presenting a picturesque view.

After exploring above, we headed down to the shoreline. We were able to climb some of the rocks at the shoreline as well to take in new perspectives.

Wandering along the shore of the St. Louis River.
Wandering along the shore of the St. Louis River.
We wandering, we discovered quite the beautiful scene:

Wandering among the rocks yield fascinating scenes all around at Jay Cooke State Park.
Wandering among the rocks yield fascinating scenes all around.

There are 50 miles of hiking trails in Jay Cooke State Park, so we have barely scratched the surface. Other points of interest include a pioneer cemetery and Civilian Conservation Corps structures.

Taking in the rocky terrain at Jay Cooke.
Taking in the rocky terrain at Jay Cooke.
At every turn, we discovered breathtaking views throughout Jay Cooke State Park. The terrain and scenery is so fascinating, that the park beckons for further adventures. Jay Cooke State Park is about 15 miles from Duluth. So, a visit to Jay Cooke State Park can easily be added to visit to Duluth and Lake Superior!

Scaling Unique Rocky Terrain and Waterfalling at Jay Cooke State Park in Minnesota

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