Devil's Kettle waterfalls at Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota

One of the best state parks in Minnesota Judge C.R. Magney State Park offers solitude, the mysterious Devil’s Kettle, waterfalls, lots of cardio, and stunning views. The park’s namesake was key in creating 11 state parks and waysides on the North Shore along Lake Superior in Minnesota. If you like hiking up and down lots of stairs and feeling like you’re miles from civilization, then Judge C.R. Magney State Park is your kind of place.

See my related Minnesota state park series.


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Top things to do at Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Grand Marais, MN

River view at Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota

Here are the top 10 things to do at Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Grand Marais, Minnesota.

  1. Hike down and up to Devil’s Kettle where the Brule River splits around ancient volcanic rock where one side spills into a pool of water 50 feet below. The other side of the river disappears into a mysterious pothole.
  2. Before you take the final steps to Devil’s Kettle, admire the tranquil Upper Falls waterfall.
  3. Continue a steep hike and connect with the Superior Hiking Trail for a wilderness hike that leads all the way to Canada or back to Duluth, MN.
  4. Fish for brook and rainbow trout, steelhead, and salmon on the Brule River and Gauthier Creek.
  5. Walk the easy one-mile Timberdoodle Trail that features interpretive signs.
  6. Camp (traditional tent, RV, and hammock) early May through mid-October.
  7. Take the hilly Gauthier Creek Trail to view wildflowers among the forest.
  8. Watch for wildlife including moose, black bears, white-tailed deer, and more.
  9. Picnic along the scenic Brule River.
  10. Enjoy a magical wonderland while hiking in the winter at Judge C.R. Magney State Park. You can also snowshoe or cross-country ski on ungroomed trails.

Frequently asked questions about Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Grand Marais, Minnesota

River view at Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota

Where is Judge C.R. Magney State Park located? What is the address for Judge C.R. Magney State Park?

The address for Judge C.R. Magney State Park is 4051 East Highway 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604.

When is Judge C.R. Magney State Park open?

Judge C.R. Magney State Park is open year-round, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. However, the entrance may not be snowplowed after a recent snowfall. Campgrounds are available early May through mid-October and trails are open year-round for day use.

Is Judge C.R. Magney State Park free? How much is the admission fee at Judge C.R. Magney State Park?

Admission to Judge C.R. Magney only costs $7 per vehicle per day ($5 per motorcycle). That includes unlimited visits to all Minnesota state parks on the same day. I highly recommend an annual pass, which gives you entrance to all Minnesota state parks. See the Minnesota DNR website for more information. And it’s highly recommended to pay online ahead of time. Minnesota state parks are no longer accepting cash self-payment envelopes on site.

You can also visit other Minnesota state parks for free four days each year. See my related post for this year’s free state park days. Admission to every Minnesota state park is free for all Minnesota state tribal members throughout the year.

Does Judge C.R. Magney State Park have a lake, river, or waterfall?

Upper Falls at Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota

Yes. Judge C.R. Magney State Park features Brule River, Gauthier Creek, and two waterfalls. Devil’s Kettle splits in two as one side plunges 50 feet below and the other side of the river disappears into a mysterious pothole. Where does the water go? The latest theory is that the water from Devil’s Kettle reemerges downstream in the Brule River. The second waterfall, Upper Falls, is pictured.

Can you fish at Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota?

Yes. Anglers may fish on the lower Brule River before it reaches Lake Superior. Both the Brule River and Gauthier Creek are designated trout steams that require a trout stamp and a fishing license.

Does Judge C.R. Magney State Park have a swimming beach?

No. Judge C.R. Magney State Park does not have a swimming beach.

Can you boat at Judge C.R. Magney State Park? Does Judge C.R. Magney State Park offer a boat ramp?

No. Judge C.R. Magney State Park does not allow boating or have a boat ramp.

Does Judge C.R. Magney State Park have a campground? Can you camp at Judge C.R. Magney State Park?

Yes. The Judge C.R. Magney State Park campground sites are open early May to mid-October.

  • 27 drive-in campsites.
  • RV parking length ranges from 30 to 50 feet.
  • Note there are no electrical campsites at Jude C.R. Magney State Park.
  • Additionally, no hookups for filling RV water tanks.

Where to stay near Judge C.R. Magney State Park?

Adirondak chairs in front of a fire pit in snow

If you’re not a camper or visiting Judge C.R. Magney State Park in late fall and winter, I recommend staying at one of the best resorts centrally located on the North Shore. The dog-friendly Caribou Highlands Lodge (pictured) is located 35 miles south in Lutsen, MN and features ski-in, ski-out townhomes. While our stay at Caribou Highlands Lodge was hosted, opinions are always my own.

Exterior of a hotel in Grand Maris, Minnesota

You could also stay at the one of their other sister hotels or resorts. East Bay Suites (pictured) is located in nearby Grand Marais, MN. This North Shore hotel overlooks Lake Superior.


How big is Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota?

Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota covers more than 4,000 forested acres.  

Is Judge C.R. Magney State Park buggy? Mosquitos? Ticks?

I don’t recall Judge C.R. Magney State Park particularly buggy. However, I always apply picaridin and Aunt Fanny’s DEET-free mosquito wipes when hiking in Minnesota state parks. .

How long and how difficult are the hiking trails at Judge C.R. Magney State Park?

Hiking trail at Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota

Judge C.R. Magney State Park offers nine miles of easy to challenging hiking trails.

Devil's Kettle hiking trail at Judge C.R. Magney State Park on the North Shore in Minnesota

Devil’s Kettle Trail is the most popular hiking trail at Judge C.R. Magney State Park. Although it’s only 1 mile long one-way, allow up to two hours to traverse the steep terrain and 175 steps down and then 175 steps back up. It’s strenuous, but worth it! Before taking the final leg to Devil’s Kettle viewing platform, be sure to stop and admire the Upper Falls waterfall.

The hilly one-mile Gauthier Creek Trail threads through a forested canopy and wildflowers.

An interpretive trail, the Timberdoodle Trail takes you on an easy one-mile loop through spruce, cedar, and birch trees.

For a challenging hike in the wilderness, connect with the Superior Hiking Trail in Judge C.R. Magney State Park. The length varies as the trail runs 310 miles from Duluth in the south to the Canadian border to the north. Expect steep, rocky, uneven, and stunning terrain.

Be sure to check for any seasonal updates (snow or flooding especially), which may impact access to hiking trails.

Are hiking poles needed on the trails at Judge C.R. Magney State Park?

Hiking trail at Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota

Yes. I highly recommend hiking poles on the Devil’s Kettle Trail in every season.

Devil's Kettle hiking trail at Judge C.R. Magney State Park on the North Shore in Minnesota winter hiking trail with stairs

And definitely wear metal spikes or crampons in the snowy, winter season. Judge C.R. Magney State Park does not maintain the hiking trails year-round.

Snowshoeing or cross-country skiing trails at Judge C.R. Magney State Park?

Yes. You can snowshoe anywhere in Judge C.R. Magney State Park in the winter as well as cross-country ski on ungroomed trails. Additionally, winter hiking to see the frozen waterfalls is magical. See my full review on the most scenic frozen waterfalls in Minnesota.

Can you snowmobile at Judge C.R. Magney State Park?

No. Judge C.R. Magney State Park is too rugged and not suitable for snowmobiles.

What are the best views at Judge C.R. Magney State Park?

Devil's Kettle hiking trail at Judge C.R. Magney State Park on the North Shore in Minnesota winter hiking trail with stairs

Judge C.R. Magney State Park offers several scenic views. The most popular view at Judge C.R. Magney State Park is from the Devil’s Kettle observation deck as well as the riverside view of Upper Falls. Pictured is one of my favorite scenic views of Judge C.R. Magney State Park in all seasons.

See related post, Top 12 breathtaking views in Minnesota.

Are there bike trails at Judge C.R. Magney State Park?

No. Judge C.R. Magney State Park does not feature bike trails.

Does Judge C.R. Magney State Park feature equestrian trails?

No. Judge C.R. Magney State Park does not have horseback trails.

Does Judge C.R. Magney State Park have a visitor center? Modern restrooms?

Judge C.R. Magney State Park opens its park office daily Memorial Day through Labor Day. Only campers may use the flush toilets in the campgrounds. Vault toilets are available throughout Judge C.R. Magney State Park.

Is Judge C.R. Magney State Park dog-friendly?

Yes. Leashed dogs and pets are welcome on Judge C.R. Magney State Park hiking trails. All Minnesota state parks welcome dogs except inside buildings. Leashes must be six feet or less.

Are there bears and moose at Judge C.R. Magney State Park?

Yes. Moose and bears meander through Judge C.R. Magney State Park occasionally. Also watch for white-tailed deer.

Is firewood available at Judge C.R. Magney State Park?

Yes. Firewood is available for sale at Judge C.R. Magney State Park when the park office is open or via the Yodel app.

To protect Minnesota trees, you can only burn certified wood on MN DNR land. Collection is not allowed in state parks and you may not bring firewood from home. This helps prevent spreading harmful insects and diseases.

How far is Judge C.R. Magney State Park from the Twin Cities – Minneapolis and St. Paul (MSP) airport?

Judge C.R. Magney State Park is located 282 miles from the Minneapolis – St. Paul (MSP) International Airport.

What’s near Judge C.R. Magney State Park? Top things to do near Judge C.R. Magney State Park?

Sunset over a lake and a lighthouse with a couple standing in a pier

Here are the top things to do near Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota.  

  • The charming Grand Marais community is located 14 miles south of Judge C.R. Magney South Park. Pictured is the Grand Marais lighthouse on Lake Superior. Check out this guide to the scenic North Shore / Highway 61 for more waterfalls, hiking trails, and photo-op stops.
  • Plan to hike all 66 Minnesota state parks? Then I recommend Grand Portage State Park, which is 26 miles north. Cascade River State Park is 22 miles south on the North Shore. Note that Grand Portage State Park is located on the Minnesota-Canadian border.  
  • The Grand Portage National Monument, heritage center, and living history village and depot is located 21 miles away. Open year-round, this national monument features educational exhibits and films about the Anishinabe (Chippewa / Ojibwe) people and the fur trading industry. You’ll also find scenic views and hiking trails.
  • Take the ferry from Grand Portage on Lake Superior to Isle Royale National Park – 22 miles away – May through October.
  • Grand Portage Lodge and Casino, open 24 hours, is located 20 miles from Judge C.R. Magney State Park.
  • Bring your passport and road-trip it to Thunder Bay, Ontario just 65 miles north. Here you’ll find several waterfalls including the majestic Kakabeka Falls. Known as the Niagara of the North, Kakabeka Falls is 130 feet / 40 meters high

When was Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota established?

Judge CR Magney State Park winter hike in Minnesota

Judge C.R. Magney State Park was first named Brule River State Park in 1957. It was renamed Judge C.R. Magney State Park in 1963.

How did Judge C.R. Magney State Park get its name?

Judge C.R. Magney, former mayor of Duluth and member of the Minnesota Supreme Court, was instrumental in preserving and creating 11 Minnesota state parks and waysides on the North Shore.

Does Judge C.R. Magney State Park host deer hunts? Is Judge C.R. Magney State Park closed during deer season?

Yes. Access to parts of Judge C.R. Magney State Park is limited to non-hunters typically in November. For a complete list of which Minnesota state parks are closed or limited to the public during deer season, see my post: Hiker safety: MN state parks that host deer hunts.

Hiking safety tip during deer season: Wear bright orange when hiking during deer season. I typically avoid hiking at all even if the state park is partially open to non-hunters.

A list of the best Minnesota state parks

Brule River hiking trail at Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota

All Minnesota state parks are the best in my opinion. You can read reviews of each one to create your own list of top-ranked Minnesota state parks: Take the Minnesota state park challenge



Pin it for later: A local’s guide to Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota

Please share and pin this guide for when you visit Judge C.R. Magney State Park in MN – one of the best Minnesota state parks for solitude, challenging hikes, and waterfalls.

Guide of top things to do at Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota collage

Guide of top things to do at Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota in winter

Author

Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller

32 comments

  1. I was swooning looking at all of the gorgeous photos you included of Judge CR Magney State Park. Absolutely stunning…I feel like I need to make this a must-visit destination for my family!

  2. Minnesota has so many great start parks, with so many options year round..and such beauty… adding this spot to the MN files 🙂

    1. Yes! Judge CR Magney State Park is a perfect place to hike snowy trails. You can find lots of places for hot chocolate on the North Shore, Minnesota. Lots of mom-and-pop restaurants and resorts.

  3. This is such a great and complete guide to visit the State Park! it really looks like a great highlight and a must-visit in Minnesota! It would be cool to see moose and bears and all the wildlife in general! 🥰

    1. I’ve only seen a bear and her three cubs once while hiking in Minnesota. Would love to see a moose. So much beauty here and especially love Judge CR Magney State Park.

  4. It looks like Judge C.R. Magney State Park will need to be on my Minnesota park list. I am ok doing the workout for stunning views and two waterfalls too. It looks like a great spot in summer or winter. But I would not forget my hiking poles!

  5. Judge CR Magney State Park looks like it’s straight out of the Pacific Northwest. I haven’t been to Minnesota before, but it looks like a great place to visit or camp. There are so many hidden gems in the midwest it seems!

  6. What a beautiful part of the world. All those beautiful lakes and trails. The Minnesota State Park Challenge looks daunting. I’m impressed at how many you have seen already!!

  7. Judge C.R. Magney State Park sounds like one I’d really enjoy. I’d appreciate the solitude and have fun seeing those waterfalls.

  8. What a beautiful park! So much to see while there – I think the photos during winter are my favorite even though I’d shamelessly prefer to visit in summer!

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