Everything about Lake Superior is grand in scale — even more where it meets Minnesota on our 206-mile North Shore at this time of year.
Superior is one of the great natural wonders of the world, the largest freshwater lake on Earth by surface area. The Big Lake has about 2,500 miles of shoreline and holds 10 percent of the planet’s surface water. The average depth is 489 feet, and the average underwater visibility in shallow water is 27 feet.
The rocky shoreline is made up of volcanic rocks, some about 1.5 billion years old, and lots of evidence of past glaciers. Rugged overlooks, enchanted shoreline forests, babbling streams, and the changing moods and tones of blue water are all parts of the lake’s mystique.
Our family was heading to the North Shore for a weekend of exploring several years ago at the cusp of fall. We saw thimbleberry shrubs with leaves that had turned yellow and orange, moose maples displaying red, and highbush cranberry shrubs and pin cherry trees both at their peak of red. Along the highway between Duluth and Grand Marais, we noticed that the native mountain ash trees had a good crop of red-orange fruit. Many of the aspens and paper birches showed yellow and gold.
We fed herring and ring-billed gulls, watched migrating warblers, gathered a few remaining wild red raspberries and saw fall-blooming wildflowers. Although rain and fog were present, I felt they helped to make the fall colors even more captivating.
Jim Gilbert has taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.