Gunflint Trail Canoe Races

July 20, 2022

The Gunflint Trail Canoe Races is a friendly competition between Boundary Waters outfitting, camp, and resort staff, to test our canoeing skills and recognize this area’s Voyageur roots. Scheduled for July 20 at 4:00 p.m. this year, this event has been held annually on the Gunflint Trail for nearly 50 years now. In addition to the legendary races, there will be a silent auction, food, t-shirt sales, and raffle. Proceeds from the event go to the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.

Each summer the event starts with long-distance races, followed by sprints, and then conclude with the gunnel-pumping or (gunwale pumping) races. For those who have never heard of this fantastic endeavor, gunnel pumping involves standing on a canoe and trying to move it forward using just your legs -imagine a series of quick squats done while balanced on the edge of a moving canoe. (Quick fact: also known as gunwales, the gunnels are the top edges of a canoe’s walls/hull.) There are no paddles involved, with balance being the key to success. In that sense, it’s not brute strength or an expensive canoe that will bring home the gold in this race. In gunnel-pumping, it’s all about balance and gravity.

If you want to participate in the races, just head to Gunflint Lodge, 43 miles up the Gunflint Trail on South Gunflint Lake Road, around 4:00 on July 20. No need to sign up in advance, or even to bring your own canoe or paddles. You can sign up, form teams, and participate right on the spot! Canoes and gear are provided, so grab a friend, grab a canoe, and hit the water!

This year, following the water-based events, Poplar Haus will be hosting a dance. So stop by Gunflint Lodge & Outfitters, eat some great food, watch or participate in the races, and then head down-Trail to dance to some great music, courtesy of the Gunflint Trail’s own DJ, Brian Gerard!

Each year the Gunflint Trail is home to a number of annual events. There’s the Trout Derby in the winter, the World’s Largest Blueberry Contest in the summer and the opening day of the fishing and hunting seasons in the spring and fall, respectively. So join us here at Gunflint Lodge & Outfitters and help support our local volunteer fire department–a vital asset for the Trail.