In 1976 a group of friends and neighbors on the Gunflint Trail gathered together and organized the first Gunflint Trail Canoe Races as a fundraises for numerous programs and causes on the Gunflint Trail. For the past 40+ years, the area has hosted the races every year – with one exception. In 1999 the catastrophic Boundary Waters Blowdown storm caused the cancelation as most of the Trail was participating in the rescue efforts. Besides that summer, the races have been a community staple every July at Gunflint Lake.
Update: Since writing this article in 2018, the event was canceled twice more. In 2020 and 2021 the global COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of the event. As it stands, it’s unknown if the canoe races will continue in the future. This may be an archived event, time will tell.
Gunflint Trail residents come together, along with dozens of visitors from all over the world to watch or compete in the 17 canoe races. There are races for all ages and abilities with plenty of space for spectators to enjoy the show. A food tent is set up with some incredible well-priced meals to enjoy. There are a live and silent auction, as well as local artisan booths. All processed go to the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad.
The Gunflint Trail Canoe Races are family-friendly with something for everyone. Whether you want to race, just be a spectator, or just come by for a delicious meal. Whatever your plans are, it’s well worth a trip up the Trail if you aren’t already staying there. Make a family day trip out of it and check out the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center or Towering Pines Canopy Tour before enjoying the evening watching the canoe races., which start at 4:30 PM
Check out our photos and video taken at the 2018 Gunflint Trail Canoe Races and head on over to Visit Cook County for more information on this year’s events.