A park of 8,938 acres and we didn’t make it more than 500 feet past the visitor’s center.
Let me explain how that happened.
To kick off our family goal to visit all 76 MN State Parks, we set out to explore Jay Cooke State Park’s infamous Swinging Bridge (which we did; you can read about Daley’s disappointment here) and then hike the manageable 1.5-mile loop East Ridge Trail (which we didn’t).
While the early March sun was warm, the trails were still too icy to navigate with our spring boots so we turned around.
Instead, Daley spotted a beach just beyond the bridge, a perfect place to eat snack. We settled in and spent a couple of hours just hanging out along the shore of the St. Louis River.
Not what we planned, but it was just what we needed.
Park Highlights as Reported by Finley, 3 years old
1. Making patterns with stones
2. Building sandcastles along the beach
Park Highlights as Reported by Daley, 7 years old
1. Walking in the puddles
2. Hauling ice chunks around the beach
3. Running on the swinging bridge
4. Exploring the big map at the Interpretive Center
5. Looking at the cool toys for sale at the Park Headquarters
From a parent’s perspective, just watching our children enjoy the park’s simple pleasures was noteworthy.
Here is a video of Finley mesmerized by the wild waters of the St. Louis River and intrigued by its stones. You also get a glimpse of the unusual tilted bedrock for which this park is well-known.
Luckily, Jay Cooke State Park is in Duluth’s backyard, just a 30-minute drive south in Carlton, MN, so we can easily return to explore the other 8,928 acres.
You may also be interested in reading about the MN State Parks Passport Club in which the kids are participating.
Have you been to Jay Cooke State Park? Share your experiences in the comment box below. Thanks!