The Gunflint Trail – North Shore, Minnesota

Gunflint Trail Minnesota

I can’t believe that I grew up in Minnesota and never experienced the Gunflint Trail! Anyone else? We spent most of our time in the Crosslake/Brainerd Lakes Area of Minnesota because that is where my grandparents lived. So, this was an exciting adventure after reading and hearing stories about the Gunflint Trail over the years. We had a blast exploring and can’t wait to go back.

The Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway is one of three nationally designated highways that wind through the Superior National Forest. The drive is filled with views of lush trees, wildflowers (fireweed is my favorite), and breathtaking overlooks. The trail is about 57 miles long, starting in Grand Marais, and runs along the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

View of Grand Marais from Pincushion Mountain
Pincushion Mountain Overlook – Views of Grand Marais

Our first stop was the legendary Trail Center Lodge (Home of Camp Chow). I had the BEST gluten-free salmon burger slathered in the perfect amount of tartar sauce. Thank you, ladies! As well as being a great spot for lunch, you will find groceries, gifts, gas, and firewood. The Trail Center’s history goes back to the 1930s. You can read about it here

Traditions carry on in this small beautiful community on Poplar Lake.

After lunch, we hiked Honeymoon Bluff. This is a short hike (1 mile) but with a lot of stairs. The stairs are worth the views of Hungry Jack Lake. That small speck in the photo below is a pontoon boat – doesn’t that look amazing?

View of Hungry Jack Lake Gunflint Trail Minnesota

Lodging and Restaurants

Then, it was time to check into Poplar Haus! We stayed in the Northern Gnome Cabin. This dog-friendly historic log cabin, built in 1927, has two bedrooms, one bathroom, and is adorable. In addition, you have your own personal dock, fire pit, and picnic table. There is a full-service onsite restaurant, liquor store, and free use of kayaks and canoes. Plus, fishing and pontoon rentals. All of this, coupled with the Poplar Haus being located just outside the Boundary Waters Wilderness, means enjoying a little piece of heaven.

Poplar Haus cabin on Poplar Lake Gunflint Trail Minnesota

We took full advantage of the peace and quiet and panoramic views at the lake.

Poplar Lake View Minnesota

How cute are all the gnome decorations? Every day, I found a new one.

There’s a perfect spot to hang your hammock right by the water.

Hammock laying in front of Poplar Lake Minnesota with a sign that says Gnome Crossing

On the whole, this is a great spot to lodge if you want to be close to some modern conveniences or it’s your first time experiencing the Gunflint Trail. For example, if you’re in urgent need of ice cream. 😉 The Trail Center Lodge is only one mile down the road. After eating the Poplar Haus burger (which was excellent), we went back to the Trail Center for one of their malts. They have a ton of flavors and are HUGE. I suggest the rhubarb.

Allen loved hanging out by the lake and watching all the little animals, bugs, and butterflies. Thank you for being dog-friendly, Poplar Haus.

Last, there is so much more to do with endless trails, lakes, and nature to enjoy.

This is a tiny peek and I look forward to many more Gunflint Trail adventures. Visit the Cook County website for more information –

Superior Hiking Trail Sign Gunflint Trail Minnesota

A Poplar Haus sunset.

Before our Gunflint Trail adventure, we drove up the North Shore and stayed in Grand Marais for a few days. Read more about Grand Marais here:

Life is short, keep searching for what stirs your soul. ❤️

©Tracy Blowers

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I'm a freelance content creator and photographer. My passion is telling stories through my photography and writing. Freelancing has allowed me to fulfill my dream of traveling alongside my freelancing husband and our rescue dog. We share our experiences on our blog offering inspiration for life and travel. We hope to stir your soul from our backyard in Minnesota to road trippin’ the US!

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