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WCCO Viewers' Choice For Best Fall Hiking Trail In Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Gooseberry Falls State Park is the unofficial gateway to the North Shore.

And its beauty is such a draw that you cannot drive by without stopping to explore.

Thousands of people visit each year, anticipating the vision of Gooseberry Falls and the memories they will make there.

"I grew up coming here. It's a touchstone. It's something you do every time you come this way. You come this way to do this," visitor Cassandra said.

See the leaves change color with the seasons, explore the nooks and crannies of the state park and capture special moments among falls -- just like my mom and dad did with me when I was a baby visiting Gooseberry.

Baby Natalie Nyhus At Gooseberry Falls
(credit: CBS)

It was created in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, who made it a destination.

"They created a camp, they made a trail system, they made buildings … bathrooms, bridges. I mean, you name it, they built it," DNR Naturalist Carolyn Rock said. "What we've got here on site is based off of what they built and their inspirations in the 1930s."

Today, you can sightsee along 20 miles of hiking, skiing and snowshoeing trails. But the most striking scenery is the Gooseberry River falling over five layers of lava rock toward Lake Superior. In places, it almost looks like water flowing from the sky.

"Right now the water is really roaring, so you can barely hear yourself think, but there's other days when it's quieter and it's silent, and you get to have some time with nature," Rock said.

She says these falls are here because of rock formed millions of years ago. And who better than a woman whose last name is "Rock" to tell us about geology's role in the falls.

"There's two layers of rock. There's bubble basalt and there's massive basalt. And those layers is the breaking of the bubble basalt because it's weaker, create the water falls as it's falling down," Rock said.

Gooseberry Falls takes its name from the gooseberry plant, one of many edible berry varieties you will find here.

"We've got the thimbleberries, we've got strawberries, we've got raspberries, we've got blackberries, pin cherries, things like that," Rock said.

There is just something about Gooseberry Falls that draws you in, whether it is the billion years of geology or the generations of family visits. Take your pick.

Gooseberry Falls
(credit: CBS)

Gooseberry Falls State Park is open year-round. The DNR recommends visiting during the week for smaller crowds.

And they have accessible trails for wheelchairs and strollers.

Your other favorite hiking spots were Barn Bluff in Red Wing and the Superior Hiking Trail.

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