Finding the split in Split Rock

Jen poses between the split rocks above Split Rock River.
Jen poses between two split rocks above Split Rock River.


Turns out I’ve been wrong about Split Rock Lighthouse all these years.

Every time I drive up north, I think there must be a massive crack in the huge, rocky Lake Superior cliff that holds up the iconic lighthouse. I also heard there was a cracked boulder in the surrounding state park that lead to the quirky Split Rock name.


The lighthouse is named after a nearby river. The nearby river was named in the late 19th Century after a rock formation about four miles upstream from Lake Superior.

According to a wayside parking lot kiosk, the Split Rock River played a major role in the logging industry. These folks started calling the river Split Rock and the name stuck. In 1905, seven ships were lost during a storm near the river mouth. Soon after, the Split Rock lighthouse was born.

After learning about these namesake rocks Jen and I decided to investigate.

The hiking trail hugs the river, turning away occasionally to climb through nearby gorges. In a couple of places, it takes you above gushing water as it slides through narrow rock canyons so fast and loud it sounds like God left on a bathroom faucet.  In late June, the trail was muddy in spots, especially on the west side. It took us more than an hour to reach a valley shaded in pines, home to the split rock formation.

The split rocks are twin pillars of stone about 20 feet high on the east side of the river. They look like a bowling pin cut in half by a lightning bolt. Jen posed in the split and we watched the river race by us. Then I saw another large rock formation in the water.

It was a rock as big as a two-story house plopped in the middle of the river. The giant rock split the river into two streams.

“Maybe that’s the split rock,” I said.

There was no official sign telling hikers which was the true split rock. Or if there was another split rock nearby that could claim the title.

Yes, I’ve been wrong about split rock before.

At least now I’m a little closer to the truth.



One thought on “Finding the split in Split Rock

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