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      Must-see on the Gunflint Trail     

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Winemaker
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08/20/2017 06:15AM
We are heading up from Indiana the 25th for a week in the BW thru Lizz to Winchell - Haskins area. We are driving up to Seagull Sunday morning to pick up our new-to-us Wenonah Spirit 2. We are meeting friends for dinner Sunday at the Trail Center. We are staying Sat/Sun at Rockwood going in on Monday, coming out Friday.

The question is, since we have never been up the Gunflint before, are there any recommended must-see on the drive from Grand Marais to Seagull Outfitters? Stores, stops, scenery, short walks, overlooks, etc.

Thanks to all for the many posts, trip reports and comments that helped us pick the route, accommodations, and the chance to pick up an UL tandem in our budget range.

 
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08/20/2017 06:58AM
if you've never been up the Gunflint you're in for a relaxing drive. just don't speed.
once you get past the golf course and lumber mill you'll get a feeling of being in the middle of nowhere until you reach the mid-point known as Trail Center.

on your way up, watch for Clearwater Rd. (this is before you reach Trail Center). Down this road is Golden Eagle Lodge and Clearwater Lodge and Outfitters. take a right off the gunflint trail onto this gravel road and travel about 3 miles or so. you're watching for a brown/yellow USFS sign on the left side of the road that reads, HONEYMOON BLUFF parking. turn in and park in this small lot. you'll see the trail beyond a wooden fence and some steps... you're on your way! this is a short loop, uphill at first. you'l be treated to a spectacular overlook. follow the trail as it continues around a small loop and takes you back to the parking lot.

a shorter option, but with gradual uphill slope, is the start of the Caribou Rock trail.
almost across from Trail Center restaurant is the Hungry Jack Rd. Follow this road for about 2 miles or so. the parking area will be on the right side of the road, more of a pull off. there are some huge white pines by the parking area. directly across from this parking area you'll see an entry point board with info. you don't need a day pass so you can skip that, just keep walking. the overlook is within 10-15 minutes or so.
this would be a nice walk for after your dinner, not to short and not too long.
**when you're up at the overlook you'll see another trail that branches to the right. unless you have another hour or two, and water and snacks and a map, don't take this! it eventually leads to a portage between the hungry jack road and Moss lake and you can walk out on the portage to the road and then back to your vehicle (a mile or so). this trail is rugged but pretty.

You'll want to to either of this in the daylight and wear sensible hiking shoes/boots! no map required for either, just stay on the trail.

if you have more free time before or after your trip you might check out the Chik-Wauk museum and nature center which is just past Seagull Outfitters, watch for signs. the museum and nature center are very interesting and informative about the Gunflint Trail, $3 admission per person, i think. there is also a hiking trail system which is free, short trails, longer trails, easy trails, uphill trails (fantastic views). gate closes at 5pm so be sure your car is moved to outside the gate if you plan to hike after the museum closes.

there is also the Magnetic Rock trail and the Kekekabic/Centennial Trail options. these are longer trails, a few miles round trip.

08/20/2017 07:01AM
There's a nice overlook near the top of the Gunflint Trail a short distance out of Grand Marais, which I think is called Pincushion . . . ?

The Chik Wauk Museum farther out the trail is a nice stop.

There is, of course, a lot in Grand Marais if you haven't been there. Artist's point.

Too many places on the way up the North Shore to list if you haven't done that drive before.
08/20/2017 08:41AM
+1 to all mentioned. For the drive up there are many also.....too many for one trip. A couple of quickies to see would be Palisade Head overlook and the Temperance River trails right off the highway.
08/20/2017 09:06AM
Lots of great advice above...... the 3 must do/sees for me would be a meal at the Trail Center (already in your plans) and Honeymoon Bluff and Caribou Rock Trail. Both have beautiful overlooks and do not take much time to see.

If you have time for a longer hike (3ish hours I think it took us to do the 2 times we've done it) I really like the Centenial Trail. It's a nice loop so you don't have to do any retracing of your steps like most of the other trails. It has some nice overlooks and there are about 13 historical/informational points along the trail.

Have fun! I love the Gunflint Trail, the Lizz area is one of my favorites as I've been there several times. Beware that it's been getting busier and busier so find camp early enough in the day...... especially if you want to camp on Horseshoe but your Mon. to Fri. plan should help with that. Rockwood has always taken good care of us and I love the convenience of staying in their bunkhouse and being able to push off from their beach at first light to start my trip.
08/20/2017 11:10PM
A ton of great options have been offered. My wife and I have done a bunch of them that were mentioned to me a few years ago and they're all good. If you have the time I'll second Mocha's Magnetic Rock trail.
08/21/2017 06:40AM
Not on the Gunflint, but on Route 61 about an hour before you get to Grand Marais, we like to stop at Gooseberry Falls State Park and take the 5 minute walk to see the waterfalls. Also a nice visitor center at this park.
Savage Voyageur
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08/21/2017 07:29AM
Hike up to the palisades on Clearwater lake. They are accessible by boat only I think. Great views when you are up there.
bobbernumber3
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08/21/2017 09:31AM
quote ducks: "... and Caribou Rock Trail. Both have beautiful overlooks and do not take much time to see. "

Do you have more information on this? Location/directions? Thanks!
08/21/2017 10:25AM
quote bobbernumber3: "quote ducks: "... and Caribou Rock Trail. Both have beautiful overlooks and do not take much time to see. "


Do you have more information on this? Location/directions? Thanks!"


There is a dirt road (Hungry Jack Road/Cty Rd 65) right before the Trail Center that leads to Hungry Jack Lodge and Hungry Jack Outfitters. It also leads to Camp Menogyn and a parking lot for accessing West Bearskin Lake. The trail head for the Caribou Rock Trail is on the left after you pass the outfitters and lodge and before you get to the West Bearskin parking lot. There is a parking lot and a big sign at the trail head.

It only takes a few minutes to get to the overlook above West Bearskin Lake. You continue on a little further to a couple overlooks above Moss Lake. If you want to make a day of it you can hike all the way to Stairway Portage, Rose Falls, and the intersection of the Border Route Trail. It's a rugged hike if you go all the way with some steep climbs. Bring lots of water and a good lunch.... it took my wife and I around 7 hours to go all the way to Rose Lake and back. We have done it a few times with the kids where we just went to the Moss Lake overlook and back.

voyageur map 9 shows the trail as a green line that starts at Hungry Jack Road just west of West Bearskin Lake
08/21/2017 10:42AM
Overlook of West Bearskin Lake on the Caribou Rock Trail.

08/21/2017 04:54PM
We like to take our time whenever we head up the Gunflint. The drive from Duluth to Grand Marais is gorgeous.

We always like visiting Duluth and usually spend the night there. We usually are able to catch the arrival of a huge lake freighter at the park down by the lift bridge.

We enjoy having supper at the Duluth Grill and spend some time shopping at Frost River.

On the way up the north shore, we always stop at Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock light house and usually visit Grand Portage National Monument before we head up the Gunflint.

ozarkpaddler
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08/22/2017 08:07AM
Looks like you'all have the "Must sees" covered? Chipwauk? Heck, it doesn't matter that I've seen it a dozen times now, I could still stay there half the day. Two things I HAVE to do every trip are my Rhubarb Malt at Trail Center and take a little evening S L O W drive down the little gravel road to the Lima Grade looking for moose.

The road is maybe a mile back towards GM from Trail Center on the right. Just past the fire station and down turn right at the sign to Poplar Creek Guesthouse/Boundary Country Trekking. Keep going straight when the road makes another right to the Guesthouse and you will soon come to Poplar Creek and then The Brule River. Good places to just pull off the road, listen to the quiet, watch for wildlife, maybe put the canoe in for an evening paddle?

I've shown a few folks their "First" moose on that road, including my wife. You can come back the way you came, or follow the road until it heads left and a little upland. You eventually will come back to the Gunflint Trail a little closer to town than you were.

mc2mens
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08/22/2017 08:32AM
quote ducks: "quote bobbernumber3: "quote ducks: "... and Caribou Rock Trail. Both have beautiful overlooks and do not take much time to see. "



Do you have more information on this? Location/directions? Thanks!"



There is a dirt road (Hungry Jack Road/Cty Rd 65) right before the Trail Center that leads to Hungry Jack Lodge and Hungry Jack Outfitters. It also leads to Camp Menogyn and a parking lot for accessing West Bearskin Lake. The trail head for the Caribou Rock Trail is on the left after you pass the outfitters and lodge and before you get to the West Bearskin parking lot. There is a parking lot and a big sign at the trail head.


It only takes a few minutes to get to the overlook above West Bearskin Lake. You continue on a little further to a couple overlooks above Moss Lake. If you want to make a day of it you can hike all the way to Stairway Portage, Rose Falls, and the intersection of the Border Route Trail. It's a rugged hike if you go all the way with some steep climbs. Bring lots of water and a good lunch.... it took my wife and I around 7 hours to go all the way to Rose Lake and back. We have done it a few times with the kids where we just went to the Moss Lake overlook and back.


voyageur map 9 shows the trail as a green line that starts at Hungry Jack Road just west of West Bearskin Lake "


I'll be in the same area in a couple of weeks with a day to hike before we head into the BWCA. I was considering the South Lake Trail, but might consider this trail instead. Any thoughts or experience regarding the two trails? Which is a better hike? FYI - my girlfriend and I are in very good shape and hike frequently.
TuscaroraBorealis
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08/22/2017 09:43AM
If you haven't done so already? Check out the Cool spots in canoe country forum. Perhaps it'll give you a few ideas.
08/22/2017 10:54AM
Numerous hiking trails mentioned....I've only done the Magnetic Rock. If time is an issue for seeing things, I'll tell you it takes about 45 minutes to get out to The Magnetic Rock. The hike is thru the burn but still has some gorgeous views and the Rock itself is interesting and historic in itself.

08/23/2017 09:33AM
mc2mens...... I've only done a short part of the South Lake Trail so I can't give a good comparison. My then 11 yo daughter and I walked the South Lake Trail for about 30 minutes and turned around. In that hour there wasn't much to see. I've heard it's nice if you keep going.

From the little bit I did do I would say Caribou Rock Trail is a more enjoyable hike. Even if you do a short hike on Caribou Rock Trail you will have beautiful scenery and you can make most of a day out of it if you want and go all the way to Stairway Portage/Rose Falls. I think it was around 7 hours all the way and back. It is a workout so make sure you have plenty of water and filter and some food. 10 minutes in you have the West Bearskin overlook, another 10 minutes a nice view of Moss, and then another 10/15 minutes an overlook of Moss. There are also some nice views of Duncan from up above especially after you cross the West Bearskin/Duncan portage and get to the western side of Duncan.
unshavenman
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08/23/2017 10:07AM
Don't forget about the laurentian divide scenic overlook!
08/24/2017 08:20AM
quote ozarkpaddler: "Looks like you'all have the "Must sees" covered? Chipwauk? Heck, it doesn't matter that I've seen it a dozen times now, I could still stay there half the day. Two things I HAVE to do every trip are my Rhubarb Malt at Trail Center and take a little evening S L O W drive down the little gravel road to the Lima Grade looking for moose.

The road is maybe a mile back towards GM from Trail Center on the right. Just past the fire station and down turn right at the sign to Poplar Creek Guesthouse/Boundary Country Trekking. Keep going straight when the road makes another right to the Guesthouse and you will soon come to Poplar Creek and then The Brule River. Good places to just pull off the road, listen to the quiet, watch for wildlife, maybe put the canoe in for an evening paddle?

I've shown a few folks their "First" moose on that road, including my wife. You can come back the way you came, or follow the road until it heads left and a little upland. You eventually will come back to the Gunflint Trail a little closer to town than you were.

"


Hi Terry. We are on the trail this week, and after our dinner last evening at Trail Center it was approaching dusk, so we said, "Why not try Terry's 'moose road' suggestion?" We drove out on the Lima Grade (in a Buick LaCrosse, not a Jeep, unfortunately), and bumped along looking unsuccessfully for moose as the darkness was approaching. It was a nice drive, and Anna, age 14, was looking faithfully for the moose she was sure she was going to see. Recent rain had produced puddles, and a small beaver dam had produced some larger puddles, but nothing we couldn't drive through. Until. . .about 1.6 miles beyond the Morgan Lake entry we encountered another small "lake"--the road had a very large black pool in front of us! Nothing we were about to drive through! Anna got out and threw some rocks into it, and proved that it was too deep to want to attempt! Why I didn't take a photo is anyone's guess, except that it was dark by then and I was concerned about how we were going to get the car turned around and worried that Spartan1 might try to drive into that mess and get us stuck and stranded out in the middle of nowhere on a 42-degree night!

He backed the car up for a ways until he found a place where he could turn us around, and we headed back the way we came. No moose! Anna decided that it was an adventure! But we were unable to drive back out to the Gunflint without turning around, and we did enjoy the view of the river (both times) with the mist slowly rising from the warmer water. No moose and no photo.

Sigh.
RJT
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08/24/2017 02:22PM
If you are not opposed to wet footing a short hike, stop along 61 just NE of Grand Marais and hike up Kadunce river. It is a great little hike!
ozarkpaddler
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08/24/2017 08:04PM
quote Spartan2: "quote ozarkpaddler: "Looks like you'all have the "Must sees" covered? Chipwauk? Heck, it doesn't matter that I've seen it a dozen times now, I could still stay there half the day. Two things I HAVE to do every trip are my Rhubarb Malt at Trail Center and take a little evening S L O W drive down the little gravel road to the Lima Grade looking for moose.


The road is maybe a mile back towards GM from Trail Center on the right. Just past the fire station and down turn right at the sign to Poplar Creek Guesthouse/Boundary Country Trekking. Keep going straight when the road makes another right to the Guesthouse and you will soon come to Poplar Creek and then The Brule River. Good places to just pull off the road, listen to the quiet, watch for wildlife, maybe put the canoe in for an evening paddle?


I've shown a few folks their "First" moose on that road, including my wife. You can come back the way you came, or follow the road until it heads left and a little upland. You eventually will come back to the Gunflint Trail a little closer to town than you were.


"



Hi Terry. We are on the trail this week, and after our dinner last evening at Trail Center it was approaching dusk, so we said, "Why not try Terry's 'moose road' suggestion?" We drove out on the Lima Grade (in a Buick LaCrosse, not a Jeep, unfortunately), and bumped along looking unsuccessfully for moose as the darkness was approaching. It was a nice drive, and Anna, age 14, was looking faithfully for the moose she was sure she was going to see. Recent rain had produced puddles, and a small beaver dam had produced some larger puddles, but nothing we couldn't drive through. Until. . .about 1.6 miles beyond the Morgan Lake entry we encountered another small "lake"--the road had a very large black pool in front of us! Nothing we were about to drive through! Anna got out and threw some rocks into it, and proved that it was too deep to want to attempt! Why I didn't take a photo is anyone's guess, except that it was dark by then and I was concerned about how we were going to get the car turned around and worried that Spartan1 might try to drive into that mess and get us stuck and stranded out in the middle of nowhere on a 42-degree night!


He backed the car up for a ways until he found a place where he could turn us around, and we headed back the way we came. No moose! Anna decided that it was an adventure! But we were unable to drive back out to the Gunflint without turning around, and we did enjoy the view of the river (both times) with the mist slowly rising from the warmer water. No moose and no photo.


Sigh."


Oh no, Linda, I hate that! I noticed this June it was a little worse than usual, but thought maybe it was the week of rain? Guess Mr. & Mrs. Castor has been at work?
08/25/2017 09:22AM
I've driven the Lima Grade many times looking for moose and have not been successful. I do love the drive everytime though.

After my Memorial Day Weekend daddy/daughter trip out of Bower Trout this year we took it to go eat at the Trail Center and got to a spot that I didn't feel comfortable crossing so I also backed up and turned around. Luckily it was right after I passed FR 252 (I think it is) so I didn't have to backtrack far and took that to the Gunflint Trail.

A few years ago we were on it in October and there was van stuck with 2 wheels on the road and 2 off the side of the road completely buried. The driver thought it was better to go around the puddle instead of just going through it like the vehicle in front of them did. The guy in the vehicle ahead of them was his father in law and said to me "damn city boy son in law has never been in the woods before".
mc2mens
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08/25/2017 01:00PM
Came across this video of a guy hiking the Caribou Rock Trail. Looks like a pretty primitive trail. I'm wondering if it's worn enough to see and stay on the trail or if I should bring maps and compass.
08/25/2017 07:21PM
that's a good video with excellent description of the Caribou Rock Trail. more people should watch this when planning to do this hike.
schweady
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08/29/2017 12:20PM
quote Mocha: "that's a good video with excellent description of the Caribou Rock Trail. more people should watch this when planning to do this hike. "
Absolutely. I had a dream for a long time that my wife and I would hike the Caribou Rock Trail to Stairway Portage, then west to the Rose Lake Cliffs, have lunch and hike back. The good folks here and elsewhere, convinced me that this was probably NOT a relaxing (or even enjoyable) day hike. Neither Caribou nor the section of the Border Route Trail should be taken lightly, they said. (Zulu, did you ever try this like we talked about a few years back?)

So, last June, we rented a canoe from the good folks at Hungry Jack Outfitters, paddled Hungry Jack, Bearskin, and Duncan Lakes, then took in Stairway Falls before embarking on the 2 mile hike to Rose Lake Cliffs. We were told that the first half-mile was pretty steep and rugged (true, that) but the next stretch was just a nice up-and-down. Hmm... I'd still categorize those last 1.5 miles as 'rugged'... maybe 'challenging,' if I'm being nice. Especially the last stretch before the best overlooks at the Cliffs.

Even after modifying the trip this way, it still made for a rather full day: a round-trip of around 3.5 hours each of paddling and hiking. But, oh... so rewarding!

paddelingruth
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08/29/2017 09:43PM
Spartan 2 , My husband just pointed your story out that you were at Trail Center last week, I am bummed we were just in the same area on Friday 8/25. We had spent the week canoeing to Long Island Lake from area 50, and on Friday we are at Trail center. Would have been really cool to cross your path. We have enjoyed your stories, our first trip to the BWCA was on Cherokee Lake and we went there mainly because of your stories. Glad you had a good time with your grand daughter. We really enjoyed the Gunflint area. Ruth
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08/30/2017 10:25AM
My two favorite sites on the Gunflint is Sag on one end and D.Q. on the other. The middle just gets in the way;)
08/30/2017 10:41AM
quote paddelingruth: "Spartan 2 , My husband just pointed your story out that you were at Trail Center last week, I am bummed we were just in the same area on Friday 8/25. We had spent the week canoeing to Long Island Lake from area 50, and on Friday we are at Trail center. Would have been really cool to cross your path. We have enjoyed your stories, our first trip to the BWCA was on Cherokee Lake and we went there mainly because of your stories. Glad you had a good time with your grand daughter. We really enjoyed the Gunflint area. Ruth"

I am sorry we didn't get to meet you and your husband, Ruth. We had lunch on Monday and dinner on Wednesday evening at Trail Center. It is one of our favorite places to eat when we are on the Gunflint. And yes, we had a lovely time this year in the canoe country. Thanks. I am glad that you have enjoyed my stories. I have always loved Cherokee Lake best of all. :-)
eroom
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08/30/2017 11:46AM
Honeymoon Bluff

mc2mens
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09/13/2017 11:03PM
We stayed at Rockwood Lodge a couple of nights before going into Horseshoe Lake last week. We had a free day and wanted to do a hike near the lodge. We ended up hiking the Honeymoon Trail, and the Daniels Lake Trail to the Border Route Trail. Honeymoon Bluff Trail is a must-see. Short, but fruitful hike with killer views from high up. Daniels Lake Trail is just down the road. It's a flat, long, trail and has beautiful views along the edge of the lake. It connects to 2 campsites along the way. We came across a moose kill between the two campsites. Wolf scat everywhere.
Basspro69
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09/14/2017 08:41AM
quote unshavenman: "Don't forget about the laurentian divide scenic overlook! " +1
 
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