Family Weekender: Minneapolis

Jay Cooke State Park
By Mike Youngblood
GO GUIDE: Jay Cooke State Park
* Activities: Wildflower viewing, kayaking and whitewater rafting, day hiking, mountain biking, cross- country skiing
* Hours from Minneapolis: 2.25
* Getting There: From the town of Carlton go 3 miles east on state highway 210 to reach the park headquarters.
* Reference: Wildflowers of Minnesota Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela. Adventure Publications, (800) 678-7006; Hiking Minnesota, by Mike Link and Kate Crowley. Human Kinetics Publishers, (800) 747-4457; Guide to Minnesota Outdoors, by Jim Umhoeffer. NorthWord Press, (800) 328-3895
* Added Value: Try rafting or kayaking on the St. Louis River. For rafting information contact Superior Whitewater Raft Tours, (218) 384-4637; for kayaking lessons and information contact University of Minnesota - Duluth Outdoor Program, (218) 726-6533.
* Contact: Jay Cooke State Park, (218) 384-4610

A weekend in Jay Cooke Park is like wandering through the pages of our northland heritage.

Here you can hike a segment of the historic Grand Portage Trail, which was widely used by Voyageur canoeists in the 18th and 19th centuries and by Native Americans for thousands of years before that.

The biggest hit with kids, however, is not the portage trail above the river but the squeaky 1930s era swinging footbridge that spans its banks.

The east side of the footbridge is a prime area for family exploration, and a good place to climb around on the tumbled rocks of the gorge that made upriver canoeing impassable to early travelers and traders. From there, modern adventurers can head deeper into the pine and hardwood forest to view wildflowers (best from late Spring to mid-July) or spend an isolated night by a clear trout creek at one of the backpacking campsites.

Day two?

How about hiking above the Thompson Dam to watch kayakers and rafters on the upper rapids? Or better yet-if your kids are at least twelve years old-make plans in advance for a whitewater rafting trip of your own!

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 8 Jun 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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