Here is a summary of Lake Superior Agate collecting locations I recently googled.
Along the North Shore of Lake Superior
The glint of agates
It was drizzling again when we reached Paradise Beach east of town, and we sat in the car until Peter said, “This rain will make the agates shine, right?’’ He was right, so we hunched under umbrellas and plunged our hands into the clean, glistening pebbles as if they were King Midas’ coins.
We did hit gold, a brown agate crowded with white eyes that looked already polished; Lake Superior acts as a giant tumbler.
At the mouth of the Kadunce River, we found a few more, and also a cleared spot on the beach where another artistic someone had arranged the flat cobblestones into a sunburst pattern, twisting like the tail of a comet.
But we found our most success at the curving, protected beach at the mouth of the Beaver River, just east of Beaver Bay, which the “Rock Picker’s Guide’’ calls the best agate beach on the North Shore.
We turned up an orange and cream agate with faint bands, then another with a big yellow eye, and other rocks that made us marvel at their infinite variations.
Other rock pickers were there, too, including Dave Hillman of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who was on a “rock vacation’’ with his sons Josh, 14, and Kai, 11.
“We worked all up the coast,’’ he said. “We went to Temperance, and Gooseberry, and this is the place.’’
Heading back down 61, we stopped at Gooseberry Falls State Park and right away found a small topaz agate at the mouth of the Gooseberry River. But we had even more fun climbing the cliff up to the adjoining point, where we sat amid the late-summer wildflowers, butterflies and buzzing crickets.
And we stopped at Burlington Bay in Two Harbors, which adjoins the municipal campground and has some real sand, a rarity on the shore.
On Scenic 61, we turned off to Stony Point, passing the storm-watchers’ post on our way to a quiet meadow with an abandoned fish house, where the woman who lives across the road was reading an Isabel Allende book on the narrow, half-hidden beach.
We had one last rock hunt in the sun at Brighton Beach at Duluth’s Kitchi-Gammi Park, where local teens were stretched out on the smooth rocks, basking like sea lions. Dropping into the agate-hunter’s hunch, we joined Douglas Kvidera of Cambridge, Minn., and his 7-year-old son Evan.
“My son has shoeboxes full of rocks,’’ Kvidera said. “One of these days, we’re going to have to say he has to organize them into one.’’
We turned up a few tiny agates for our modest collection. Of course, we could have bought bigger and better ones, already polished, for a dollar or two at the Agate Shop in Beaver Bay. But then we would have missed out on the thrill of the hunt.
“It’s frustrating,’’ Peter said. “But when you find an agate, it’s really fun.’’
Best agate-hunting: The mouth of the Beaver River at Beaver Bay.
Beaches of Tettegouche and Temperance state parks, as well as the edges of inland rivers, such as the Poplar and the Onion (“not Cascade; never found anything there”) and Paradise Beach, 14 miles north of Grand Marais and just south of C.R. Magney State Park.
Permits for hunting in Moose Lake
Moose Lake, half an hour south of Duluth off I-35, is renowned for its gravel pits. To get a free permit and directions to four gravel pits, visit the Chamber of Commerce office at 4524 Arrowhead Lane, at the junction of Minnesota 61 and County Road 73 near the big moose.
The office is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday until the fishing opener in May, then 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
You also can get the permit and directions by email, email@example.com. For more information, call 218-485-4145 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 218-485-4145 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.