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Weekends at Wolf Ridge: North Shore Geology Exploration

September 22, 2023 @ 3:00 p.m. - September 24, 2023 @ 2:00 p.m.


Spend a glorious fall weekend on the North Shore of Minnesota gaining hands-on experience and learning from experts in their field.

Workshops take place on the Wolf Ridge campus and surrounding areas, with lodging and meals provided. Whether you’re a seasoned naturalist or just a curious learner, the experience is designed for lifelong learners who have a passion for the natural world. Participants select a single workshop for the weekend but will have an opportunity to connect with other workshop groups during meals and evening programming.

Workshop: North Shore Geology Exploration

Do you look for interesting rocks on every beach or gravel road and want to discover their story? Are you an agate or Thomsonite seeker? Do you wonder about all those rock faces you see as you drive heading north on Highway 61? If you answered yes to any of those questions, this adventure is just for you! Explore the North Shore of Lake Superior’s fascinating geologic history, by picking rocks, sorting, and figuring out who’s who in the rock world. Investigate key geologic features, figure out which way is up in ancient lava flows, and find out how geology connects to other natural features and events. We will learn the basics of recognizing the different rock types of the North Shore, decipher lava flows and all their layers, and visit a number of unique geologic sites. We will both hike and carpool to locations on Wolf Ridge’s main and Lake Superior campuses and to select locations along the North Shore. Rocks don’t mind being wet, so we will brave whatever Mother Nature dishes out for weather! There’s lots to see and explore on this geologic adventure. 

By the time you leave, you will have a much better idea of how Lake Superior came to be, and you will be able to recognize all sorts of features along Highway 61. A trip up the North Shore will never be the same again, and you will know some of the stories in the stones. Participants should be prepared to make a few hikes on uneven trail surfaces, and rocky beaches up to a mile one way with moderate exertion.

Instructor: Margie Menzies

Margie is a lifelong naturalist, educator, and lover of rocks and all things of the natural world. She spent years in the formal classroom as a science teacher but has abandoned the indoors for the great outdoor classroom. Margie spent year as the naturalist at Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center on the North Shore in Schroeder, she is the Hawk Ridge Program Director, at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth, and sometimes finds time to supervise student teachers or teach a course as adjunct faculty for the UMD Education Department. She teaches Master Naturalist Courses for Minnesota Extension at Sugarloaf and North House Folk School, in Grand Marais. A long time ago, she used to think Geology was boring but has long since been snared by the lure of the stories in stone, and these days teaching about the Geology of the North Shore is one of her favorite pastimes. She loves learning and sharing the natural world with people of all ages.

Register for this Workshop

Lodging Information

Dining Information

Directions to Wolf Ridge

Weekend Workshop Schedule

Friday, Sep 22, 2023

  • 3:00 – 4:45 pm — Registration and check-in at the Wolf Ridge office
  • 4:00 – 4:45 pm  — Tour of the Margaret A. Cargill (MAC) Lodge
  • 5:15 pm  — Dinner
  • 6:00 – 6:30 pm  — Orientation in MAC Lodge Weesner Commons
  • 7:00 – 9:00 pm — 1st learning session
  • 10 pm  — Quiet time

Saturday, Sep 23, 2023

  • 7:30 am — Breakfast
  • 8:30-10:00 am  — Continental breakfast for Owl Workshop
  • 8:30-11:30 am  — 2nd learning session
  • 12:15 pm  — Lunch and bag lunch
  • 1:00 -2:00 pm – Naturalist program
  • 1:30 – 4:30 pm — 3rd learning session
  • 5:15 pm  — Dinner
  • 6:30 – 7:15 pm  — Evening presentation
  • 7:30 – 9:30 pm  — Social hour & campfire
  • 10:00 pm  — Quiet time

Sunday, Oct 2, 2022

  • 7:30 am — Breakfast
  • 8:30-10:00 am  — Continental breakfast for Owl workshop
  • *check out of rooms by 10:00 am
  • 8:30-11:30 am —4th  learning session
  • 12:15 pm — Lunch & check-out
  • 12:30 – Owl workshop ends
  • 12:30-1:30 pm — Optional: Use of designed rooms to shower before leaving
  • 1:00-2:00 pm – Naturalist program

On Friday afternoon before registration or on Sunday afternoon you’re welcome to hike our trails and enjoy the fall colors.

Packing List

You should plan to venture out in rain or shine and the instructors may follow up with more information on specific details about your workshop if applicable. You can expect nighttime temperatures to range from 25°F to 50°F and daytime temperatures up to 65°F. Please be prepared so you can feel comfortable if it is cool or rainy. Most of the walking you will do is on nice graveled trails, but some trails are rugged. Photography will be a common thread throughout the weekend so we encourage you to bring a camera. If you do not own a digital camera, we can loan you one for the weekend.

  • Rain suit with pants and hood
  • Walking or hiking shoes
  • Warm jacket
  • Sweater or fleece
  • Warm hat
  • Light shirts
  • Light pants
  • Wool Socks (recommended for hiking)
  • Soap, shampoo, other toiletries
  • Personal water bottle
  • Sunscreen, sun hat

Optional Items:

  • Knee-high rubber boots
  • Non-aerosol insect repellent
  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Alarm clock
  • Small backpack for day use
  • Snacks (space available in group refrigerator)

Wolf Ridge will provide linens, blankets, towels, and a pillow.



September 22, 2023 @ 3:00 pm
September 24, 2023 @ 2:00 pm
Event Category:


Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center
6282 Cranberry Road
Finland, MN 55603
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(218) 353-7414
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On Campus, Some Travel Off Campus
Adult Education