780 Highway 210
Carlton Minnesota 55718United States
day pass $5; annual pass $25; fees for camping/cabins
A day trip to Jay Cooke State Park rewards you with striking and accessible scenery.
Jay Cooke has a handful of features that every visitor should experience. One of the most memorable is crossing over the rushing St. Louis River on the swinging bridge (it's wheelchair and stroller friendly). Notice the area's unique geography: beds of slate have fractured and now stick up at all angles. Another place to stop is Oldenburg Point, an excellent overlook with picnic tables and a CCC shelter. The overlook trail is paved, making it very family friendly. Markers along the way tell a bit of park history. Skip the stairs that lead to the river's edge: they're a lot of effort for no payoff. Jay Cooke's historical sites include the Grand Portage Trail and the Thompson Pioneer Cemetery. The Grand Portage Trail has been in use for more than 300 years, first by Native Americans and then by voyageurs to bypass the river rapids. At the Thompson Cemetery, some of the grave markers have inscriptions, giving a glimpse into the past. Jay Cooke boasts a big 50 miles of trails; they link to the multi-use Willard Munger State Trail on the northern boundary. Other park activities include geocaching and periodic interpretive programs. The park's campgrounds contain more than 80 campsites, plus five camper cabins, but with the park's proximity to Duluth, we'd consider Jay Cooke a solid day-use park.