Palisade Head  and Shovel Point, stunning cliffs climbing straight out of Lake Superior, make the coastal scenery some of the best on the lake, though most of the park sits atop the Sawtooth Range, where six lakes are nestled between the steep hills, and the Baptism River leaps over a succession of waterfalls and rapids.
Established in 1979, Tettegouche (TET-uh-gooch) is one of Minnesota ’s newest state parks, but it’s also one of the North Shore’s earliest protected areas. The Alger-Smith Lumber Company set up a logging camp here at the end of the 19th century and gave many area lakes Algonquin names since the men were mostly from New Brunswick, Canada.
In 1910, after having cleared the area’s red and white pine, they sold the land to a group of Duluth businessmen who created a fishing camp. Though it changed hands a few times, all subsequent owners stewarded the land, allowing today’s beautiful park.
Tettegouche’s 23 miles of hiking trail, including a 12-mile stretch of the Superior Hiking Trail, are generally hilly, though the myriad scenic vistas make the lung-chugging climbs worthwhile. The most popular destination is High Falls, a 70-foot drop on the Baptism River. The tallest waterfall entirely in Minnesota is just an easy half-mile round-trip from the campground, but the most scenic route follows the Baptism River Trail 1.5 somewhat difficult miles up from Highway 61, passing two more waterfalls along the way.
A series of interconnected loops winds around the interior lakes offering many scenic overlooks—Palisade Valley is arguably the most beautiful. A mature forest covers the park’s lake area, and there are even scattered old-growth white and red pine stands, such as Conservancy Pines on Mic Mac’s east shore.
Down at Lake Superior the popular Shovel Point Trail is a fairly easy walk out along its namesake cliffs; interpretive displays discuss the park’s geology. In the winter the Shovel Point Trail is designated for snowshoeing, and the office rents shoes. Fifteen more trail miles are groomed for cross-country skiing, with most offering a bit of a challenge.
Experienced rock climbers scale Palisade Head  and Shovel Point (a free climbing permit is required); paddlers can rent canoes from the park office to explore the portage-linked Mic Mac and Nipisiquit Lakes, while anglers take trout from Bear and Bean Lakes and the Baptism River.
Tettegouche’s varied overnight options make the park one of the best places to spend the night on the North Shore. The 34 sites (no electric, six walk-in) in the Baptism River Campground are widely spaced. Down on Lake Superior (and unfortunately right next to the highway) are 14 cart-in sites—none are more than half a mile from the parking lot and about half have lake views. There are also five backpack sites along the Superior Hiking Trail and kayak-accessible sites for those paddling the shore.
The Tettegouche Camp has four classic log cabins ($80) from the early 1900s on Mic Mac Lake, a 1.7-mile walk, bike, or ski in from the nearest road. Three cabins sleep six, while the other is wheelchair accessible and has room for two people. The cabins have electricity but no running water; however, a modern shower building means you don’t really have to rough it all that much. Meals are cooked on a hotplate or campfire, and there is also a small fridge. Each cabin comes with a canoe.
Further up the Baptism River, the modern Illgen Falls Cabin has all the conveniences of home for $130 per night. It’s a fully accessible two-bedroom home with a back deck overlooking the 45-foot waterfall.