Explore Minnesota’s Scenic 57-Mile Gunflint Trail On This Unforgettable Winter Adventure

Although many people may associate it with paddling the Boundary Waters and summer hiking or fishing, if you’re looking for a winter adventure in the North Star State, you should put Minnesota’s Gunflint Trail trip at the top of your list. I did just that on one January weekend, and the only thing I regret is not having more time to do and see all there was to experience.

Minnesota’s Gunflint Trail stretches 57 miles from Lake Superior and the charming lakeside outpost of Grand Marais to an arm of Saganaga Lake, which straddles the Canadian Border. The Gunflint, as it’s often called, was designated a National Scenic Byway in 2009, but its history goes back hundreds of years. The route generally follows a footpath once used by Native Americans and fur-trading voyageurs to negotiate the region’s numerous lakes and the challenging peaks of the Misquah Hills. It was first improved as a road in the late 19th century to provide access to an iron ore mine that almost immediately failed. The modern Gunflint Trail was not fully paved until nearly a century later, in 1979.

Now, it’s a gateway to numerous resorts, lodges, and outfitters to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which the road bisects. Several major footpaths, including the Superior Hiking, Border Route, and Kekekabic Trails, all have trailheads along the Gunflint. The clear, clean lakes are renowned for their fishing opportunities, as well as exploration by adventurous paddlers. But winter takes adventuring on the Gunflint Trail up a notch.

And I don’t think there could have been a more fitting way to end my daylong Gunflint Trail trip. What will you do when you visit the Gunflint? No matter what it is, make sure you pack the essentials for winter travel so you are properly prepared for a cold-weather adventure.

When you’re looking for your next adventure, be sure to check out all of the features in our Everyday Explorers series. Where would you like to see us take our next adventure? Let us know on the Only In Your State Nomination Page.

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Address: Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway, 116 W Hwy 61 #205, Grand Marais, MN 55604, USA