Top 10 “Must-Do Activities” on the Gunflint Trail This Summer

June 28, 2019

Written By: Joseph Friedrichs

At long last, we can finally say it’s summertime on the Gunflint Trail. We had a late ice-out this year, with a frozen surface clinging to parts of Gunflint Lake for the first couple weeks into May. After that, we had some long rainy days as spring slowly rolled into June. Through it all, the thing that kept a twinkle in our eyes on the Gunflint was knowing how many great activities and events were waiting around the corner this summer. With that in mind, here are our top ten must-do activities for the upcoming summer on the Gunflint Trail.

10. The Canoe Races – Since the mid-1970s, an iconic event known as the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races has taken place as a fundraiser for the local volunteer fire department. This family-friendly event directly benefits the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department through an auction, food sales and raffles. If you’ve never heard of “gunwale-pumping,” the canoe races are a can’t miss this summer.


9. Picking Fruit from the Vine: The Upper Gunflint Trail has been a stronghold for blueberries and other wild edibles following a series of wildfires from the past 20 years. Blueberries are the main draw, but don’t overlook the plentiful wild strawberries and raspberries that grow wild and free along the Gunflint and surrounding trails as well. Nothing is better in the morning than fresh fruit from the Gunflint on your pancakes!

8. Chik-Wauk Museum: This local gem on the Gunflint features a variety of historical exhibits and outdoor hiking trails. The temporary exhibit inside the museum for the 2019 season is on the story of two Gunflint Trail legends: Tommy Banks and Billy Needham. One was a mobster and bootlegger and the other was a fisherman with a knack for making artwork and furniture from Minnesota timber. Indeed, the history of the Gunflint comes to life at this museum and nature center!

7. Wildlife Viewing: With the summer foliage in full effect, many of our favorite four-legged friends are now roaming near the Gunflint. Summer is the perfect time to view moose browsing for lilies in the many ponds and lakes along the Trail or to see a bear browsing for berries. Wolves and other animals are also on the move at this time of year, so it’s all about being out there to see them!

6. Take to the Trails: While there is only one true “Gunflint Trail” on this planet, there are many hiking trails that spur from this treasured roadway. We have many suggestions for hiking near the Gunflint, but our favorites are Magnetic Rock, Honeymoon Bluff and the High Cliffs. We have maps at the Lodge to help point you in the right direction on the local hiking trails, and there’s literally hundreds of miles of hiking trail located along the Gunflint.


5. Cool Off with a Swim: Like we said at the top, we’ve been waiting for the long and warm days of summer along the Gunflint. Now that they’ve arrived, it’s time to take to the water. And there’s nothing more refreshing after a lovely hike through the woods than a cool swim in the clear waters along the Gunflint. In fact, we suggest taking it a step further and hiking to the majestic Bridal Falls. You can access this natural waterfall from our home waters on Gunflint Lake with a motorboat or canoe. Another option is to hike three-miles in by taking the Crab Lake Spur Trail and connecting with the Border Route Trail. No matter how you get there, it’s likely the most beautiful place in Minnesota to cool off on a summer day.

Happy fisherman with a trophy walleye

4. Summer Fishing: Walleye. The mere mention of the word is enough to get most anglers who visit the Gunflint Trail worked into a frenzy. Summer is primetime for walleye fishing along the Gunflint Trail. Nearby Saganaga and the Seagull River fishery is one of the best producers of trophy walleyes in the state in fact, it is home to the Minnesota State Record Walleye! Our guides at the Lodge are always in tune with where the walleye are biting. Gunflint Lake is also home to some monster lake trout and, you’ll also find a plentiful supply of smallmouth bass to catch either angling or on the fly. The fish have a tendency to move into deeper water as the lakes warm, so current information is vital in having success chasing walleye, northern pike and the many other species that call this amazing landscape home.

3. Glide Through the Trees: The Towering Pines Canopy Tour is widely considered one of the most exciting things to do in northern Minnesota. And it just so happens to be located at our Lodge here on Gunflint Lake! The tour features eight zip lines spanning the boreal forest canopy. The tour takes just over two hours, as you’re in touch with nature gliding high amidst old-growth white pines and some of the best viewpoints along the Gunflint and into Canada.

2. Horseback Ride Through Pristine Forest: Superior National Forest is among the most spectacular in North America. With this in mind, there’s no need to rush through it! We suggest taking it all in on horseback to capture the beauty of it all. Our experienced wranglers will guide you through the vast miles of trails on steady steeds. Whether you enjoy a scenic ride or a full day adventure, you will be able to capture the essence of a changing forest. Traveling on horseback lets you enjoy the scenery while participating in a timeless tradition along the Gunflint Trail.

1. Canoeing in the Boundary Waters: Many people have paddled a canoe at some point in their lives. And no matter how familiar they are with the concept, everything changes when they paddle a canoe in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The landscape, portage trails, clean water and natural beauty of the BWCA makes canoeing in these protected waters an absolute must this summer. We offer day trips or fully-outfitted trips into the wilderness at Gunflint Lodge, as our goal is to share this amazing setting with you in the summer of 2019!

Whatever you like to do, the Gunflint Trail offers something for everyone! So head North and indulge yourself in all the joys that summer has to offer!