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Grand Marais was incorporated as a village in 1903. Fishing and logging were the primary industries until the late 1900s. Tourism now plays the primary role for this village of 1300 people.
Grand Marais sits between a beautiful harbor on Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountain Range. Hike along the Superior Hiking Trail, one of the top five trails in the US. As Grand Marais is one of the snowiest regions in Minnesota, explore the snowshoe trails, snowmobile trails, and locations for cross-country skiing. The harbor provides access to boat and kayak rentals for fishing Lake Superior or for canoeing the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This popular wilderness area has river and lake systems that extend to the Canadian border, providing limitless opportunities for outdoor discovery.
Grand Marais has an eclectic mix of restaurants, art galleries, shops, and lodging accommodations. Enjoy the talents of many artists, musicians and actors, or create your own artwork in classes at the North House Folk School. Discover the area's history at the Cook County Historical Museum.
For outdoor adventure or a sampling of northern culture, visit the sites and scenes of Grand Marais.
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Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Water Tower
A painted watertower heralds the beginning of Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway. Here you see the signature Gunflint Trail
“moose” used on all scenic byway signs. It is a great place for a photograph. Make sure you pull off to the side of this
10:02 - 1.2 miles / 2 minutes - 10:04
Pincushion Overlook & Recreation Area
The overlook is located on a natural rock outcropping. From this view, note the Sawtooth Mountain Ridgeline,
Lake Superior, and the natural harbor of Grand Marais, Minnesota. The forest is mixed deciduous and conifer.
10:09 - 4.4 miles / 8 minutes - 10:18
Stand of Gunflint Pines
The towering trees are estimated to be approximately 350 years old, and escaped logging of the area. These are the signature pines of the Gunflint Trail.
10:20 - 2.4 miles / 4 minutes - 10:25
George Washington Forest Ski and Hiking Area
The route is relatively unpopulated from this point to the termination of the scenic byway. Hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing through this area provide opportunity to see the diverse forest, both deciduous and coniferous trees, wildflowers and birds in the warm-weather months, and ample snowfall in winter. Local mammals to watch for on the entire route include timber wolf, coyote, moose, whitetailed deer, and black bear.
10:30 - 0 miles / 0 - 10:30
Moose Viewing Trail parking
This is an opportunity to view moose in their natural habitat. Wildflowers, birds, and a boreal forest add to the attraction of
11:30 - 3.5 miles / 7 minutes - 11:37
Kettle Mountain/Northern Light Lake Hiking Trail
Kettle Mountain, also known as Mt. Baldy or Blueberry Hill, is a good example of the geology created by glaciers moving through the area 15,000 to 25, 000 years ago. Views from the hiking trail offer scenic vistas of nearby Misquah Hills and Northern Light Lake, a widening of Brule River.
12:37 - 4.0 miles / 7 minutes - 12:45
South Brule River - Snowmobile Trail Access
The large parking area near the South Brule River is for winter snowmobilers, who enjoy designated trails through
Superior National Forest. Pristine white snow, wildlife, and heavy forested trails create beautiful riding conditions.
(Snowmobiling is not allowed within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, so make sure maps and trail signs
are closely followed.) Watch for moose, deer, wolf, pine marten, fox, and other small mammals, as well as ruffed grouse.
12:47 - 4.7 miles / 9 minutes - 12:56
Mayhew Lake Historic Site and Pullover
A historic interpretative sign tells the story of Henry Mayhew, an early explorer on the Gunflint Trail. Foxes are
frequently seen in this area, along with moose in the wetlands near the roadway.
13:01 - 0.0 miles / - 13:01
Gunflint Lake & Magnetic Lake Overlook
The view from this vista was once traveled by French Voyageurs by canoe on the trade route. The geology of the area dates back 1.65 billion years ago. Rocks include iron outcroppings. This is a deep lake with excellent lake trout fishing. The far view is of Canada.
13:11 - 0.6 miles / a minute - 13:13
Larch Creek Wetland, Gunflint Guard Station
Wetlands make up a large part of the Gunflint Trail, Superior National Forest, and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness landscape. They provide habitat for many birds and mammal, including beaver, forage for moose, and purify the run-off waters.
13:23 - 9.2 miles / 18 minutes - 13:41
Laurentian Divide - Birch Lake
Waters from this point flow north to Hudson Bay and the Arctic Ocean or south and east to Lake Superior and the St. Lawrence Seaway. The east side of the Gunflint Trail is soft sedimentary rock, called gray-wacke and hardened lava. Volcanic eruptions forced through the gray-wacke, creating great humps and tilting toward Lake Superior. Glaciers carved out the rocks 12,000 to 25,000 years ago, creating lake bottoms and majestic palisade.
13:51 - 1.6 miles / 3 minutes - 13:54
Old Gunflint Trail #92 - Winter Tracks
This is the location of the western side of the “Old Gunflint Trail” which is a gravel road. The Ham Lake Fire swept
through this area in 2007; note the charred, and new planted trees (planted in 2008). The Gunflint Trail hosts “Winter Tracks” an event celebrating winter and snow in late February each year. Snow sculptures are constructed at various Gunflint Trail locations, including this intersection. Snowfall on the Gunflint Trail averages 110 inches per year.
13:55 - 2.7 miles / 5 minutes - 14:01
Little Iron Lake
Little Iron Lake offers canoeing opportunities similar to small lakes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The BWCAW is a non-motorized wilderness area managed by USDA Forest Service. This is the southern border of 2007’s Ham Lake Fire. On the first anniversary of the fire, May 3, 2008, 450+ people of all ages and from all parts of Minnesota came together to replant the forest in an event called “Gunflint Green Up.”
14:21 - 7.5 miles / 15 minutes - 14:36
Cross River Pullover
Cross River runs under the Gunflint Trail here. Rushing water and rapids attract photographers and picnickers.
The parking area provides access to part of the Upper Gunflint Trail cross-country ski system. Cross-country
skiing is a great way to enjoy the natural forest, lakes, and landforms of the area. Trails wind through unpopulated wildland.
14:46 - 1.3 miles / 2 minutes - 14:48
Magnetic Rock Trail
Magnetic Rock is a huge boulder which throws off compass readings in the area, as does much of this area’s
geological formation. The boulder itself is 1.5 miles from the Gunflint Trail. The hike is through forest burned in the
Ham Lake Fire. Blueberries are abundant in July and early August. Watch for moose and warbler along this trail. An annual event called Gunflint Green Up brings people of all ages together to plant seedlings in the fire area.
17:48 - 6.7 miles / 13 minutes - 18:02
Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center
Chik-Wauk is a National Register of Historic Places site. The rock for the lodge was all gathered locally during construction in 1935. The area surrounding Chik-Wauk is
representative of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area terrain, with lakes, rocky shoreline, and forest. Beaver live in the bay, note the beaver lodge on the south shore.
19:02 - 1.8 miles / 3 minutes - 19:05
Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway - end