Saturday, March 1, 2014

Keene Creek Waterfalls - Duluth, Minn.

One of my favorite things about Duluth, MN (and there are many, many things I love about this city) is the presence of waterfalls within the city limits. With numerous creeks and rivers flowing towards Lake Superior, these falls provide places of serenity hundreds of feet from busy urban areas. One creek that features small yet unique waterfalls is Keene Creek, which can be accessed from several spots on the Skyline Parkway.
The first falls are reached by parking in a large dirt lot near Skyline Drive and Highland St. Across the street there is a short trail into the woods that reaches an old bridge over the creek. There was some "interesting" graffiti there on our visit, further driving home the point that this is a very urban waterfall.
The falls here look to vary between 3-10 feet depending on waterflow. The Wallinga's book lists them at eight feet but they were closer to four in August of 2012. The gently flowing creek splits over some rocks here, before landing in a reflective pool that had quite a collection of trash and debris in it (pop cans, shoes, etc).
The creek flows directly under the old bridge mentioned above, and this appears to be a favorite target for graffiti artists. The vibrant colors on the wall contrast with the tranquil calm of the greens and blues in the area, but almost have a beauty of their own when viewed solo:
From these falls, a short (.3 mile) trip east on Skyline Drive to another, smaller dirt pullout leads to another short trail through the woods to a more breathtaking spot on Keene Creek. Here the creek drops over rock at a height of around five feet, in three distinct sections before it makes a few smaller drops below.
A close-up view of the "upper" section here shows the moss/lichens attached to the rock. While these falls are not going to be featured on a calendar anytime soon, they must look spectacular during spring runoff.
These falls don't appear to be visited very often either, so if you're looking for a quiet, scenic hike away from crowds this is a good spot to start. Below is a short video I took in August 2012.

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