Hike and Paddle: Northern Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park

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The border waters between the United States and Canada are lovely. Watching a sunrise or set on the waters, while listening to the waves quietly lap across the shores will fill you with a sense of peace and calm. When you visit northern Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park, be prepared to paddle and hike just like the Voyageurs used to do (minus the 90-pound pack of course).

This National Park is quite different from others. The majority of the park is water. It offers the novel experience of boating to an island, disembarking, and then hiking. Because this is a hiking blog, I will focus on two trails you can do without watercraft. However, you would be missing out if you didn’t make the effort to rent a canoe or buy a ticket for one of the many pontoon tours available.

For a map of the park, click here.

Blind Ash Bay

This is a moderate 2.5-mile loop that offers some nice hilltop views of the border waters and its picturesque islands. The park has four different visitor centers. The trailhead for Blind Ash begins at the Ash River Visitor Center. This is a good introduction to the park, but it’s more of an urban hike as you don’t get far from all the activity of the boat ramps and visitor center.

Vermilion Gorge

While not technically part of Voyageurs National Park, I highly recommend checking out the Vermilion Gorge Trail for the viewpoint at its end. The hike is an easy 3-mile out and back in the Superior National Forest. It’s a boring boreal forest hike, but the gorge waiting at the end is the reward. From up high, you can view the scenic Vermilion River where it flows into Crane Lake. Park at the Crane Lake Visitor Center.

For a map, click here.

Border Water Attractions

There are a few more places worth a visit in this area. Northeastern Minnesota is home to both the North American Bear and the International Wolf Center. You could hit up both of these in a single day. They are interesting and fun. You can view black bears and wolves in their enclosures.

Another place worth mentioning is the Grand Portage National Monument. For history lovers looking to learn more about the once-bustling fur trade, you can visit this awesome example of a period-correct trading post. Complete with history actors milling about the outpost. If you are to do one thing in this area though, you should go check out Isle Royale National Park. Read about our adventures on Isle Royale by clicking here.

For more hiking destinations, click here.

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Hiker Tips:

  • Bring 99% Deet. The mosquitoes in MN are no joke!
  • Click here for info about Voyageurs guided boat tours.

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