LENGTH 3 miles
DIFFICULTY Moderate-Hilly, with steep overlooks
DATE February 17, 2017
MAIN FEATURES Devil’s Kettle, Brule River
Judge CR Magney State Park was about a 20 minute drive north of Grand Marais. We started at around 9:30 am, assessed the trail quickly and decided that snowshoes were overkill on the packed snow but brought yak tracks and poles. We were glad to have both on the slippery inclines and icy stairs. This park has 9 miles of hiking trails, joins with the SHT and has 27 campsites. The ranger station and campsites were closed for the winter, so we didn’t check those out this time.
The trail takes you up right away, with views looking down into the Brule River gorge. Once again, we felt like the only ones in the park and choosing to visit in the winter made it a nice and secluded hike. The weather was just starting to warm up, so it couldn’t have been any better. The park seemed to have an unusual number of ravens. They called out across the river with their almost human sounds and were huge. We got a good look at a couple of them and wondered if they too were drawn to the greatest mystery of the park, the Devil’s Kettle.
After a little less than a mile up hill, we saw the stairs. The stairs we had heard about….the stairs of DOOM. They weren’t really as bad as we’d read, but there were probably a couple hundred of them and we would have slid down them without our yak tracks.
Our first stop was High Falls. This was my fist time ever seeing a frozen waterfall and I was just blown away but its beauty. I liked it the best out of the 3 we saw today just because of the sheer force and formation of the ice. It made this giant ice heave or some sort of thick frozen bubble at the base that we had to climb up and check out.
We got our fill of the High Falls and headed about another 700 (or 11,700) feet uphill to the DEVIL’S KETTLE.
Aside from the Hiking Club password, this is the main reason we came to the park. Above the Devil’s Kettle, a large rock shelf divides the river, sending part of it into a pool and the other into a huge pothole. Despite the Raven’s warning calls, we had to see this mysterious phenomenon…this portal to the underworld…another dimension, this crazy hole in the earth that NO ONE KNOWS WHERE IT GOES!
Scientists and other humans have tried putting all sorts of things down there to see where they come out…and they still can’t figure it out! The pothole itself was not nearly as beautiful as the frozen high falls, but the looming feeling of danger looking straight down into that dark abyss was worth the trek up to the top of the overlook for sure.
We continued a little past the Hiking club trail onto the Superior Hiking Trail, exploring the frozen woods and dreaming of one day hiking the whole trail end to end.
Next stop, Cascade River State Park!