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Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton

(4.8/5 based on 120+ reviews on the web)
Jay Cooke State Park is a state park of Minnesota, United States, protecting the lower reaches of the St. Louis River. The park is located about 10mi southwest of Duluth and is one of the ten most visited state parks in Minnesota. The western half of the park contains part of a rocky, 13mi gorge. This was a major barrier to Native Americans and early Europeans traveling by canoe, which they bypassed with the challenging Grand Portage of the St. Louis River. The river was a vital link connecting the Mississippi waterways to the west with the Great Lakes to the east.Today Minnesota State Highway 210 runs through Jay Cooke State Park. The 9mi of the route between Carlton and Highway 23—which include the park—are designated the Rushing Rapids Parkway, a state scenic byway.The park is named for Pennsylvania financier Jay Cooke, who had developed a nearby power plant, which is still in use. The Grand Portage trail and three districts of 1930s park structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.HistoryThe first 2350acre of land on which the park is situated were donated to the state by the Saint Louis Power Company in 1915. The park remained generally undeveloped until 1933, when a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was established on the site. The CCC camp built a rustic swinging bridge over the St. Louis River just slightly downstream from some torrential rapids and waterfalls. This camp also built a picnic shelter. The camp was disbanded in 1935, but a second camp was set up in 1939. This camp rebuilt the swinging bridge and built the River Inn, which now houses the visitor center. This camp was disbanded in 1942, shortly before the federal government ended the CCC entirely. In 1945 the state began to add more land to the park, eventually giving it its current size of 8818acre.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Picnic here regularly, walking the nature trails, crossing the swinging bridge, and watching kayakers. I was surprised, when I met someone from California, who said he camped here with his family when...  more »
  • I have biked and walked the trails in the park many times and it never gets old. It is very conveniently located within 10-15 miles or so of Duluth and 5 miles from Cloquet. Very peaceful and is great...  more »
  • We stopped here on our drive home for a winter hike and to get some energy out before a long drive home. Great because it's only $5 for the parking pass. In the winter there a few great spots you can ...  more »
Google
  • Stopped here while on a 5 day camping vacation up the North Shore Trail. Beautiful scenery. The rivers were running wild this year. MANY photo ops.
  • Amazing trails and views. Don't forget to pay for your $5 day pass for parking! (They had out citations if you don't). It's well worth the $5!
  • One of my favorite state parks. Swinging bridge over the river provides some great views.
  • Done awesome hiking a long the river. And some great camp sites
  • A hiking paradise. This is one of the best mn state parks south of Duluth. If you're up for great hiking, make sure to hit the St.Louis and Geely trails, which are a bit demanding but very spectacular.