Day 61 of our Journey

There are so many amazing outdoor adventures to have in the Boundary Waters area of Minnesota that we stayed three times longer than we’d intended. Here’s what we did, where we ate, and where we slept.

Baver House in Grand Marais, NM

There are certainly some big fish in Lake Superior, but this shop in Grand Marais may be stretching it a little bit.

One day we hiked 8 miles (12 km) of the Superior Trail. Another day we drove into Grand Marias to pick up the Gunflint Trail, which is not an actual trail but a well paved road (also called Country Road 12) that leads to trails and endless canoeing and camping options on the back to back lakes and ponds to be enjoyed in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Canoeing Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Eric maneuvering our shockingly light Kevlar canoe on Duncan Lake in the Boundary Waters.

Portage Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Unfortunately, most of the best canoe trips require a bit of portaging. That’s why they invented kevlar canoes.

Loon Boundary Waters Canoe Area

A loon in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota.

If you get hungry out the Gunflint Trail (and you will), we highly recommend the Black Bear Bar & Restaurant. It’s a casual place (your wine comes in a jelly jar) decorated in a hodge-podge of found objects from saddles to salt shakers to snowshoes. Bar stools carved from massive logs are plastered with funny/smart bumper stickers, the waitresses are cheery and fast and the food (burgers, chili, salads, etc) is affordable and great. They also have the smartest dessert ever: a mini sundae that is little more than a perfectly concocted bite, but isn’t that all that’s really called for anyway?

Looking across to Canada - Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Karen looks across a lake to Canada. No immigration officers here.

Overview Boundary Waters Canoe Area

The many interlocking lakes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

We toyed with the idea of canoeing to one of the many remote campsites in the Boundary Waters for a couple of days, and then we remembered one thing. The mosquitoes. Now, we realize that we’ve perhaps mentioned mosquitoes once or twice before during the course of our trip, but the North Shore variety takes the cake, and by that we mean they’re big enough to pick it up and fly off with it.

Canoeing Boundary Waters Canoe Area

All loaded up and ready to head out after a day of paddling.

So we settled for a day of canoeing (let’s hear it for lightweight Kevlar canoes) across Bearskin Lake and Duncan Lake where we got out on the shore and hiked over to look out at the watery border with Canada.

Wolf Gunflint Trail, MN

Our very first wolf sighting happened as we were driving along the Gunflint Trail.

On our way back into Tofte at dusk (which is about 9 pm in the summer around here) we saw a moose in a pond, a wolf on the bank, and two foxes curled up in a ball on the road.

Moose Gunflint Trail, MN

Dinner time for a moose along the Gunflint Trail.

We were pretty hungry by the time we were done with all that paddling and wildlife gawking, we pull into The Angry Trout Cafe, an adorable café dockside in Grand Marais that does a better job of being a truly organic/sustainable eatery than most we’ve seen in far bigger cities. The fish is locally caught, other ingredients are organically grown, the napkins are made from organic cotton, and the furniture was made from largely recycled wood. They even sell copies of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, arguably the world’s first widely-read environmental book. Oh, and the food was fantastic.

Where to sleep near the Boundary Waters

The Cliff Dweller On Lake Superior in Tofte was run by a friendly guy named Ray. The place was immaculately clean, nicely decorated, and offers rates that include a free breakfast with freshly baked muffins and other goodies in a dining room overlooking Lake Superior. Even better, every single one of the 22 rooms has a big balcony hanging over the lake shore. It made a great base for our Boundary Waters explorations.

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