The Cascade River drops 900 feet during the last three miles of its journey, tumbling over a pair of waterfalls right before running into Lake Superior. The 5,550-acre Cascade River State Park (3481 Hwy. 61 W., 218/387-3053) surrounding this aptly named waterway also stretches along three miles of Lake Superior shoreline, and its 18 miles of trail let you stroll or ski along the rugged coast or climb up into the Sawtooth Range for some spectacular scenery both near and far.
It’s less than half a mile round-trip along the Cascade River Trail to reach Cascade Falls and The Cascades. The Superior Hiking Trail continues along both banks of the river gorge into the adjacent Superior National Forest  and up to County Highway 45, offering a 7.7-mile loop. Down another branch of the SHT is Lookout Mountain.
The popular overlook on the east side is a steep but worthy 1.75-mile climb, and you can continue on to complete a 3.7-mile loop around the peak. The easy Lake Trail skirts two miles of gorgeous shoreline, but suffers highway hum. Five backpacking campsites ($18) with Adirondack-style shelters are scattered about the park, and an otherwise good 40-site semi-modern campground is situated unfortunately close to the highway.
If a night under the stars isn’t your thing, consider Cascade Lodge (3719 Hwy. 61, 218/387-1112 or 800/322-9543, www.cascadelodgemn.com , $75 rooms, $99 cabins), a North Shore  fixture that sits right by the park entrance and is directly connected to its trail system. Many of the guestrooms in the 1930s log lodge come with lake views, while the cabins, most with fireplaces, are oozing Northwoods charm. Naturally, due to its location, the lodge caters to outdoor sports enthusiasts, so outdoor gear, including mountain bikes, is available for rent.