**Updated : October 2022**
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What and Where is the Gunflint?
The Gunflint Trail begins in Grand Marais, and ends about 57 miles down the road. In our opinion this area is one of Minnesota’s best places to explore, and it’s not too overcrowded yet (like the North Shore). Not to mention it borders the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). After spending one week with Voyageur Canoe Outfitters in one of their cabins, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite day trips in the area. I want to be clear by saying that we did not do overnight portages while we were there since it was a bit late in the season, but instead took various day hikes, canoe trips, and fishing trips to the places they best recommended. If you are planning on portaging, we would recommend visiting during warmer, summer months. If you're looking to have the area to yourself, we recommend visiting in October like we did - we truly loved having the entire area to ourselves and there was still so much to explore! The only downside was a majority of lodge restaurants and cafes were closed, so it’s essential to bring your own food if staying for more than just a day. As promised, listed below are some of the most recommended hiking, canoeing, and fishing spots for day trips along the Gunflint Trail!
Best Things to Do on the Gunflint
Considerably one of the best areas in Minnesota for hiking, but be prepared for lots of rocks and slippery surfaces. We highly recommend wearing grippy hiking shoes when you’re getting out to explore this area, and bringing safety essentials like food, water, sunscreen, map, compass, and a first aid kit. Below we’ve listed some of our favorite hikes along the Gunflint Trail, starting with those closest to Grand Marais.
You can’t take a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness without at least spending a few hours out on a canoe. We based at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters and were provided with one during our stay. Although it was pretty chilly at the end of October, and we were a little worried about tipping the canoe, we still made some day trips to some of these nearby lakes.
Did you know there are about 700 miles of snowmobiling through the Superior National Forest? Us either. Snowmobiles are permitted to travel on any snowmobile trail or service roads that haven’t been snowplowed or closed. They can also go off trails and roads as long as the area isn’t restricted or closed
5. Snowshoeing & Cross Country Skiing
Did you know there are over 200 kilometers of groomed trails?? Again, us either. They also get over 100 inches of annual snowfall, making it the perfect spot for some winter activities!
6. Dogsledding & Sleigh Rides
We have to be honest here, we always thought dog sledding was a thing only in Alaska, but turns out you can enjoy this activity right here in Minnesota! Voyageur Canoe Outfitters can arrange a day trip, half day trip, or even a chance for you to learn how to mush your own team of dogs! Looking for something a little calmer? Have them arrange an old fashioned sleigh ride and hot chocolate by a warm fire!
7. Northern Lights
The BWCAW and Gunflint Trail areas are the best in Minnesota for Northern Lights watching. Head out on a clear night and check the Aurora Alerts App for the KP index! Our favorite spot to head out to watch is the Trails End Campground at the very end of the Gunflint Trail!
Watch our best tips for Northern Lights viewing here!
8. Wildlife Watching
While driving, hiking, and exploring the Gunflint Trail keep your eyes out for wildlife! We saw 4 moose and a wolf - but you also have the chance to see deer, black bears, lynx, fox, loons, owls, eagles, beavers, and river otters! This brings me to say, never approach wildlife - you want to keep a distance between you and the animal in case it decides to charge or attack. Since living in Alaska, we always also bring bear spray with us for worst case scenarios.
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We're Deborah & Tyler, a pretty average husband and wife duo from a pretty average state that didn't want to live so averagely. After our *Covid wedding we sold everything that didn't fit into the Jeep and moved to Alaska, then decided to take a gap year!
We share bucket list itineraries and cost saving guides to help you travel easier and inspire your next adventure! ;)
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