Fifth Falls Trail: Gooseberry Falls State Park

Gooseberry Falls is one of Minnesota’s iconic State Parks.  We have hiked the well-worn trail along the edges of the Falls and Gooseberry River countless times; it never gets old.  This classic view (below), however, is one we left behind for one of our two geocaching hikes last weekend.  Instead, we followed the Fifth Falls Trail inland, in pursuit of one of the Avian Adventure geocaches (so that we could end the weekend with only 80 left to check off the list before June of 2014 — as you may recall, the other geocaching hike of the weekend was the lovely Tettegouche Lake Overlook Trail).

Gooseberry Falls ~ Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota
Gooseberry Falls ~ circa 2008

The grasses and wildflowers were close to peak color along the forest floor.  I am always fascinated by the twisted, craggy trunks of the old cedar trees, their graying bark standing in stark contrast to the colors of the forest surrounding them.

Gooseberry Falls State Park ~ Fifth Falls Trail

Moving inland away from Lake Superior’s cool breeze, we broke a sweat as we hiked along, and as soon as our lab sensed water was nearby, he started tugging at the leash.  For some reason, I thought it would be more convenient to put my trusty friend on the jogging leash (hands-free, attaching around my waist with a bungee-type extension leading to the dog), and free my hands for the camera and water bottle.  It was convenient, until we reached the river’s edge, and I stupidly did not unhook him to jump off a small rocky ledge into a slow-moving pool of water upstream from the falls.  I instinctively held my camera safely above my head, so only my elbow nailed the rock as he jumped  . . . there may have been a few profanities unleashed as well as the dog at that point.  My son wisely did not say a word.

Gooseberry River, upriver from Fifth Falls ~ Minnesota

The water level is incredibly low with the lack of rain we have had in recent weeks, leaving much of the rocky river bed exposed to view.  Moving downstream from the falls provided great views of the interesting small caves and openings along the steep river banks.

Fifth Falls ~ Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota

Fifth Falls ~ Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota

Fifth Falls ~ Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota

After locating the geocache, and tucking away the biome bird card as proof of the “find”, we headed back along the Gooseberry River.

Fifth Falls Trail ~ Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota

Gooseberry River ~ Fifth Falls Trail (Minnesota)

Although we have just dipped our toes into this Minnesota State Park geocaching challenge, it already is proving to be an enjoyable way to see different parts of the parks we have visited for years.  The challenge also will take us to numerous parks we have never explored despite living in the state for over twenty years — the Garden Island State Recreation Area cache on an island nineteen miles from shore in the middle of the Lake of the Woods will take a little planning!

Fifth Falls Trail ~ Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota

Two down, eighty geocaching challenges to go . . . but what a delightful way to explore Minnesota’s diverse outdoor offerings!

Ciao! ~ Kat

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