Winter is a great time to visit the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northern Minnesota. Many of the lakes freeze over, leaving miles of untracked snowfields ready for your snowshoe, ski, dogsled, or snowmobile. Grab a day pass, take a snow day, and come play in the winter wilderness of the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway!
Snowshoe Through Nature
On the northern end of the byway, showshoe your way to a fascinating natural feature on the 1.5-mile Magnetic Rock Trail-- a 30 foot high glacial erratic which causes compasses to go haywire near it! Nearby, you'll find one of the trailheads to the 40-mile Kekekabic Trail and the historic Paulson Mine. Try the first few miles of this old firefighting road, rescued from obscurity and now maintained by local supporters. If you have a little experience but not a lot of time, Creek Trail is the trail for you. Located near Poplar Lake in the middle of the byway and just a quarter of a mile long, the Creek Trail coils around the north side of Poplar Creek and returns along a high, serpentine (or "esker") ridge. While you’re in the Banadad Trail area, also try out the Swamp Lake Trail, a two-mile trail that will bring you close to the chilled waters of Swamper Lake. You might even see a moose! Further south on the byway is the George Washington Forest Ski and Hiking Area, close to the southern end of the byway. Look close -- you might see the tracks of timber wolves, moose, and white-tailed deer in the snow by the area's signature Gunflint Pines
Want to whisk across this winter wonderland? Slide onto a sled and enjoy an exhilarating ride behind a team of dogs racing across the snowy countryside! The wind flies through your hair and the lightly falling snow brushes your cheeks as you mush along. Several resorts near Little Ollie Road and close to Gunflint Lake offer dogsledding adventures. Whether you want to take the reins yourself or join a tour with an experienced "musher", there's something here for all ages and experience levels. Or if you are in the mood for something more romantic, exchange dogs for horses and take your sweetheart on a lantern-lit, horse-drawn sleigh ride at one of the local resorts.
Trails and Wilderness
Craving some more adventure? Come skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, or participate in one of the many fun events that occur every winter along the byway. Experience the byway on a whole new level on the Gunflint Snowmobile Trail System, which runs mostly parallel to the Gunflint Trail. Explore occasional scenic spurs and have fun for hours.
Feeling adventurous? Ski into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, where winter wildlife abounds, such as moose, deer, red squirrels and more. Go ice fishing in the excellent icy waters of Gunflint Lake, Seagull Lake, or Saganaga Lake. Or come to Winter Tracks, held on the Gunflint Trail each winter in early February. Participate in a miniature winter Olympics, go ice fishing at the Ridge Riders’ Trout Derby and Icefishing Contest, enter the snowmobile poker run, snowshoe through an obstacle course, or admire ice and snow sculptures here and throughout the area.
Come snowshoeing, dogsledding, snowmobiling--whatever your favorite way to play in the snow; you’ll find endless possibilities for the ultimate winter adventure on the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway.
- Public domain.
- Public domain. Photo by Lisa Wagner
- Public domain. Courtesy of @Explore Minnesota Tourism
- Public domain. Courtesy of Explore Minnesota Tourism
- Public domain.