Gunflint Trail

The Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway is a legendary exploration of nature from the edge of the wilderness. It connects Gunflint Lake and the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to Grand Marais.  Whether you travel up for a day or stay a week, the Gunflint Trail offers an abundance of activities for all ages.

Popular Activities:

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center:  Whether you're a history buff, into nature, or just enjoy a well currated museum to explore on a rainy day, Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center has something for everyone. Covering the history of the Gunflint Trail for the last 100 years (roughly the time permanent residents started moving into the area), Chik-Wauk is the place to go to find out all there is to know about the Gunflint Trail.

Towering Pines Canopy Tour: Take this 2+ hour long trip above the white pine across eight zip lines. The views from the top are sure to take your breath away.

Paddling: It’s easy to find a place to a paddle along the Gunflint. Canoe, kayak or stand up paddle (SUP) in the Boundary Waters Canoe area or on another surrounding lake. Since many of the lakes are paddle only, you’re likely to find a peaceful corner to explore. Renting a boat is easy through one of the area's many outfitters. For boat rentals on Saganaga Lake at the end of the Gunflint Trail check out Voyageur Canoe Outfitters.

Fishing: Toss a line into one of the many inland lakes or streams and try your luck at fishing. Cook County boasts the state record for seven types of fish, including Smallmouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, and Walleye.  Get some fishing advice in episode 5 of the Exploring the North Shore Podcast.

Hiking: Many hiking trails surround the Gunflint Trail and range in length and difficulty. Here are a few to check out:
  • Pincushion Mountain Hiking Trails (easy to moderate, various lengths)
  • Devil Track River Hiking Trails (moderate, various lengths)
  • George Washington Memorial Pines Hiking Trail (easy, 3-miles)
  • Northern Light Lake Overlook Hiking Trail (easy, 1.5-miles)
  • Daniels Lake Hiking Trail (easy, 1.5-miles)
  • Honeymoon Bluff Hiking Trail (difficult, 0.6-miles)
  • Caribou Rock Hiking Trail (moderate to difficult, 7-miles)
  • Crab Lake Hiking Trail (easy, 8-miles)
  • Border Route Hiking Trail System (moderate to difficult, various lengths)
  • Magnetic Rock Hiking Trail (easy, 3-miles)

Wildlife Viewing: This area is excellent for viewing wildlife. Grab your binoculars for some bird watching, or try spotting a deer, moose, bear or wolf.

Berry Picking: Starting mid-July until mid-August blueberries abound all along the Gunflint Trail, but especially in recent burn areas near the 2007 Ham Lake Fire areas. After that, the raspberries take over and can be easily spotted along the many side roads. Bring a bucket- there's many to gather! In July and August you can also enter the annual Biggest Blueberry Contest.

Gunflint Hills Golf Course: This scenic 9-hole par 36 course is just 4 miles north of Grand Marais.

Dogsledding: Visit when the snow flies to catch a glimpse of the Gunflint Mail Run or the John Beargrease Marathon, or book your own dogsledding adventure with one of the local dog mushing companies.

Snowmobiling: Though it’s hard to imagine snowmobiling in the middle of the summer, the 450-miles of trails that wind through Cook County offer a unique experience to riders during the winter months. Rent a snowmobile through a local company, print out a map of the trails, and be prepared for days of fun. For more detailed information and resources, visit our snowmobiling page.

Where to Stay:

Devil Track Lake Homes: Only 8 miles from Grand Marais, Devil Track Lake is a great lake for motorized watersports.  It's a good balance between being near Grand Marais and being near the heart of the Gunflint Trail, without being too far out there.  Check out Devil Track Lake Homes 211, 215, and 219 and Hyggested on the north shore and Cedar Cove and Birch Hollow on the south shore.

Poplar Creek Retreat: Set back near a trail leading to a shared dock for LIttle Ollie Lake, this two bedroom, two bathroom cabin is the perfect combination of private with easy access to adventure.

Christine's Hideaway: This three bedroom, one bathroom cabin is located on Poplar Lake, located about mid-trail and home to the popular Trail Center and Poplar Hus restaurants and Rockwood Outfitters.Poplar Lake is recognized as a great place to spot moose or catch walley, smallmouth, or pike. Poplar also features three direct entry points to the BWCA.

Birch Lake Retreat: Located on another mid-trail lake, this home has two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a private dock on a quiet section of Birch Lake.  Quiet, peaceful, and a lovely mix of historic log cabin and modern retreat.

Clearwater Castle: This large home is located mid-trail but up towards the Canadian border.  The lake is amptly named for it's beautiful, calm waters that perfectly reflect the surroundings.  Check out Clearwater Canoe Outfitters for your boat rental needs.

Baldy's Nest: As you near the end of the Gunflint Trail, you'll come to Gunflint Lake- for which the trail was named after. This popular lake is half in the US and half in Canada.  Baldy's Nest sits across the road from the lake with beautiful views looking right into Canada.  You are just a short drive from the Towering Pines Zip Line here!

Portage House: Set deep in the woods, down miles of dirt roads, on the shores of Loon Lake, in the heart of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, you will find Portage House: A Canoeists' Paradise.  In this cozy cabin you will feel truly unplugged and in tune with nature.  Nothing will greet you but the songs of the birds and the rustling of the trees as wildlife passes through. Slow down and enjoy a different pace of life.

Wearing Water: Saganaga Lake is at the edge of Minnesota's wilderness with a BWCA entry point visible from the cabin's dock. Like Gunflint Lake, Sag is half in the US and half in Canada.  With three bedrooms and one bathroom the log-sided cabin is a dream family-getaway, far away from it all. Get in touch with Voyageur Canoe Outfitters for your boat rental needs.