Fifth Falls: Gooseberry's Hidden Gem

Updated: July 25, 2019 02:24 PM

Gooseberry State Park gets hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Many of them stop at the Upper, Middle, and Lower falls, but many hikers don't make it out to the Fifth Falls. 


Park Naturalist, Carolyn Rock is trying to get the Fifth Falls the exposure she thinks it deserves. "It's a destination area we want people to get out to," Carolyn said. Rock joins the Superior Hiking Association to lead a group out to the Fifth Falls about once a month.

"It gets people out on a little bit of a longer hike," Carolyn said. "It's about 2 to 3 hours, sometimes almost 4 hours depending on how long we meander. So it's not an intense hike, but it's a nice wander through the woods."

There's no sign-up sheet for these hikes. Carolyn simply waits outside the visitor center in the morning and takes along anyone with a camera and a thirst to know a little more about what they're seeing.

Sarah and Kevin Cunningham are from Chicago, and they recently visited Gooseberry for the first time. They stumbled upon Carolyn's guided hike to the Fifth Falls and tagged along.

"Living in a big city, she really took the time to show us all of the small things on the trail that I know I would have thought, 'gee, that's pretty,' but I wouldn't have seen half of it without her," Sarah said. 

"Yeah, we would have just stopped at the waterfalls and missed everything in between," Kevin added. 

Along the way, Carolyn talks about the habitat in the park and points out the plant and wildlife they encounter. "We saw blueberries today. We saw strawberries, we got to eat strawberries. We had dewberries today. We got to see all sorts of different things and learned little about the history of the river and the history of the land around it," Carolyn said.

The Fifth Falls is the furthest out with a two mile round-trip hike, But Carolyn sees the journey out to the falls as a big part of what makes the Fifth Falls a hidden gem.

"You get the wildlife. You get to see the different flowers. Because the Middle, Upper, and Lower Falls are so tightly packed with people, sometimes the habitat around there is not as full," Carolyn said. "So you get to actually see a lot of plants you wouldn't see along that area just because they've been trampled."

She also points out that more trail means more photo opportunities. "Make sure you bring your camera!" Carolyn said.

Carolyn has several more Fifth Falls hikes planned this season, all on Wednesdays: August 14th, September 25th, and October 9th. Otherwise, you can check the events calendar for other hikes they lead, and naturalists are always available to boost your trail knowledge during park hours.

"If people are like, 'I want to get away from folks, but I want to see something special,' come and ask the naturalists," Carloyn said. "We are always happy to point you in a direction where it's not always gonna be as busy, but you're going to see some really cool things if you take your time."

Sarah and Kevin felt like their chance encounter with Carolyn provided them with the full Gooseberry experience. Sarah said, "I think we saw parts of the trails and the falls that we would not have seen by ourselves. We certainly would not have landed here." Kevin said, "We walked right on the deck and stumbled into this hike and we couldn't be happier."

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