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Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton

#18 of 141 in Nature in Minnesota
Must see · State Park · Nature / Park
Jay Cooke State Park is a state park of Minnesota, United States, protecting the lower reaches of the Saint Louis River. The park is located about 10 miles (16 km) 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, 13-mile (21 km) 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 9 miles (14 km) 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.

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Jay Cooke State Park reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
215 reviews
  • We were in the area and thought we'd stop here to do some exploring. Absolutely beautiful place. Kids had a blast climbing on the rocks. The swining bridge was neat. I'd highly recommend stopping...  more »
  • We were lucky enough to visit this park when fall colors were filling up the trees. There’s so much to do here—so many hiking trails and sightseeing around the St Louis River. One must-stop part of....  more »
  • Easy access off of 35, approx 15 minutes down the road. Well kept, and miles upon miles of trails, mostly scenic. Neat rock formations, and good terrain changes. Walked the hiking club trail, it was pretty good. A few trails bring you right along the rivers edge also. Parking reg is at the park office, as you drive into the public parking. Seven I think for the day.
  • Overall a very nice park. The campground has plenty of sites, but still offers a fair amount of privacy thanks to well placed tent boxes and picnic tables. Each site has a fire ring. Like most state/national parks, gathering firewood is not permitted. However, you can purchase firewood from the campground host. Another positive is that the campground stays very dark at night. This provides excellent views of the night sky. New restrooms were just built at the beginning of the 2019 season. There are multiple single stall-showers, a men's, women's, and family restroom all located in one building. The backside of the building also features 2 sinks, with an area to wash dishes. Aside from the camping, Jay Cooke SP offers miles on miles of hiking trails (cross country skiing in the winter). It is also located off of the Willard Munger state trail. This is a very well maintained, multi-purpose trail. Some of the highlights of the park include a Swinging Bridge over the St Louis River, a hike to Lost Lake, an 1800s pioneer cemetery, and an educational information center.
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