Snipe Lake Loop Day Trip

Last June, I was able to sneak out for an afternoon day trip on the Snipe Lake Loop with my brother and sister-in-law when they were up. This short Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness canoe route basically loops through Tuscarora’s backyard. We frequently send cabin guests and a handful of overnight campers on this route because it’s convenient, scenic, and provides an excellent introduction to the BWCA.  

It was a glorious sunny day, so we grabbed a three-person Kevlar canoe and off we went . . . . 

Missing Link Lake

As the name “loop” implies, this route can be done in two directions, either starting on our beach on Round Lake, or just down the Round Lake Road (County Road 47) at the public put-in for Cross Bay Lake. The three of us opted to start at Tuscarora for a couple reasons. Logistically, it was just easier to start at the beach since our canoes are right there and we didn’t have to monkey around with shuttling ourselves and canoe down the road . . . even if it is only 300 yards away from the outfitting building. I also liked the idea of getting the two longer portages done first thing (the portage from Round to Missing Link is 142 rods and the portage from Missing Link to Snipe is 180 rods), although by doing the route in the counterclockwise direction, we of course had more uphill portaging . . . . Clearly, a compelling argument can be made for doing the loop in either direction. 

Brother at the Snipe Portage landing on Missing Link

It was a mid-week afternoon in late June and the woods were still pretty quiet. We ran into a group coming across the Missing Link portage, then passed a large group on the first campsite on Missing Link. From then on, we had the woods to ourselves. 

One of the nice things about doing the Snipe Lake Loop with three people in a three-person canoe is that it’s easy to navigate the single biggest challenge on the entire six-mile route. About a quarter of a mile down the portage between Missing Link and Snipe Lake, you come to a large boulder that slopes down into a ravine. It’s only about a seven foot dip, but it can be a bit of a poser on how to tackle it when you come to this “valley” with a canoe on your shoulders. If you’re traveling by yourself or just one other person, the only real option is to set the canoe down, get yourself down the rock face, then collect the canoe and carry on. 

My brother Peter was portaging the canoe when we reached this point, so his wife Ashley and I just grabbed the two ends of the canoe and held it up while Peter walk out from under the canoe and down the rock face. Once he was on level footing again, we just set it back down on his shoulders and continued on to beautiful Snipe Lake.

Snipe Lake

Snipe Lake really is a gem. Even though you’re only a couple miles into the BWCA, it feels like you’re deep in the wilderness. It has dramatic rock features, twisty canyons, and lush forest. It’s not a great lake for fishing (it just has small northerns) but with four campsites and not a lot of traffic, it’s a good option for people who want to feel like they’re in the remote wilderness without actually traveling very far. 

That said, there’s some debate about whether the Snipe Lake Loop is “easy.” Because of its convenient location, many Tuscarora guests get their first taste of the Boundary Waters on the Snipe Loop. It’s not the easiest Boundary Waters canoe route in the world, but it has several factors that push it into the “easier” category, namely that you only travel six miles to complete the whole loop meaning it can be done in about three and a half hours of continuous paddling and portaging. It’s also only on small bodies of water so you don’t have to worry too much about wind conditions. While two of the portages are longer, all of the portages are well traveled and well maintained.

But every Boundary Waters trip inherently challenging on some level and even the easiest BWCA trip isn’t a walk in the park. (I actually wrote a whole blog post about the Boundary Waters not being a park a couple years ago.) As you can see in the photo above, the portages can be mucky. On Cross Bay Lake, the person in the bow needs to watch in front of them so the canoe doesn’t get hung up on the bottom or rocks as you paddle the shallow areas near the portages. 

When you take off on Cross Bay Lake from the Snipe portage, you meander down a shallow, twisty waterway about creek-width. Be sure to watch for blooming pitcher plants if you’re paddling through in early summer. We literally saw hundreds of these carnivorous flowers in bloom as we paddled by – the most I’ve ever seen in one location.  Although we didn’t see one on this trip, Cross Bay Lake is also know to be a bit of a moose viewing hot spot. 

Cross Bay Lake

As you portage from Cross Bay Lake into Ham Lake, you’ll exit the Boundary Waters. You still have two portages to go to reach the public landing though. Ham Lake is completely outside of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, but still in the Superior National Forest. That means the four campsites on this lake are “dispersed sites” aka first come, first serve campsites that don’t require an overnight permit (or camping fee) to camp here. As a result, this lake can be pretty busy in the Boundary Waters high season (late July – mid August) when Boundary Waters permit quotas are filled, but people are still looking to get a BWCA camping experience. It’s also a lake that people frequently camp on for the last night of their overnight trip down to Long Island Lake or beyond, because Ham Lake has a good population of walleye and bass. Despite these facts, all four campsites were empty when we paddled past. 

From Ham Lake, we continued on for the “portage/paddle/portage/paddle” around a couple sets of rapids on the Cross River back to the public landing. From there, we did a quick 1/3 mile walk up the road back to Tuscarora. Although we did the trip as a day trip, I could see why you’d choose this route for an overnight trip. For such a short BWCA route, it really has some great campsite options, especially if the purpose of your trip is to relax and recharge and fishing isn’t much of a priority.

Have you done the Snipe Lake Loop before? 

New Boundary Water Maps from True North Map Company

Like many, if not most, people who love the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, we’re map people. To us, half the joy of BWCA canoe tripping is pouring over maps and weighing the merits of one route over another in the months leading up to the actual trip. Even if you’ve only gone on one Boundary Waters trip, chances are, you still have at least one map from that trip. The Boundary Waters and maps – they just go together. 

For a long time, you had to make a binary choice about which map you wanted to use for Boundary Waters navigation: a Fisher or a McKenzie. We use these two companies’ maps interchangeably at Tuscarora, since the only real differences between the two are the scale and the background color. Back in 2007,  Voyageur Maps joined the Boundary Waters map party, so it had been a good long while since there’d be anything new in the Boundary Waters map world. Suffice it to say, we were pretty excited when Hudson, Wisconsin based True North Map Company launched in January. 

The tan background indicates areas affected by wildfire, while the green background shows old growth forest

We got our first shipment of True North Maps a few weeks back. We were intrigued by the concept of the maps, but wanted to test out their functionality. Since then, the maps have accompanied us on many a Boundary Waters ice fishing trip (see #7daysoficefishing over on Instagram) and we’ve even thrown one in the wash. (More on that later . . . . )  

If you’re asking yourself, do we really need another company making Boundary Waters map, the answer is no, we don’t really need another company printing BWCA maps on paper. Happily, True North Map Company isn’t printing their maps on paper. What sets them apart from every other Boundary Waters map company is that their maps are printed on microfiber fabric –  think the kind of material that your Buff is made out of. This means you can literally tie these maps in knot, in a bow, throw them over your shoulder, or wear them as a bandana. 

We kind of wondered how clear a map printed on fabric could be, but were pleasantly surprised by how clearly the lakes “pop.” The True North maps cover all the things you’d expect from a Boundary Waters map: lake and island names, campsite locations, portages with the distance in rods, campsites, and of course the actual Boundary Waters boundary. With a scale of 1 mile = 1.5,” the scale is the same as on Fisher maps, although the True North maps don’t have as much lake depth detail. They do however offer detailed topography and use color grading to show forest fire areas.

From a navigation standpoint, where True North maps really shine are as a secondary map for the “non-navigator” in the canoe. It’s always nice to have as many people as possible on the trip aware of your position on the map to increase your chances of remaining “found.” 

I also think this is an excellent map option for a route you’re already familiar enough with that you don’t require notation on the map. With a True North map, you can just ball it up in your pocket and pull it out whenever you want to verify you’re on the right course. Maybe it’s just me, but when I go on a Boundary Waters day trip, I always find it a little annoying to have to carry a single map over the portages, since the map case is usually too big to easily stuff into my daypack. But as Dave Seaton down at Hungry Jack Outfitters is fond of saying, “If you don’t have a map, you’re lost; you just don’t know it yet,” so traveling without a map really isn’t an option, no matter how well you know a route.  With a True North Map, I can just tie the map around my leg or to the canoe and enjoy hands-free portaging. 

Made of UPF 50 microfiber fabric, True North maps can be used for sun protection . . . or any of your Boundary Waters banditry needs.

Personally, the thing we’ve enjoyed most about these maps isn’t their navigational function, it’s been having a microfiber cloth close at hand. We’ve grabbed them many a time to dry our hands after catching a lake trout or to wipe water off the fish finder screen. The maps are machine washable, and I can verify that they come out of the washing machine just as bright as they went in (and in my case, decidedly less fishy smelling). Be sure to line dry them so they stay nice and soft.  

As a canoe outfitter, one of things we’ve really enjoyed about working with True North Maps is how customizable the maps are. We’ve worked together to move a portage location to improve the maps’ accuracy. They even cut a custom map for us (the BWCA TL) that specifically shows the areas you’ll travel through with #50 Cross Bay, #51 Missing Link Lake, or #52 Brant Lake entry point permits. The custom map also shows Tuscarora Lodge and Canoe Outfitters’ location. We’ll be stocking those in our gift shop this season, along with their BWCA 13 map, which covers Seagull and Saganaga Lakes and the entire Granite River.  

The BWCA TL map goes as far west as Little Saganaga and Gabimichigami, shows the entire Frost River Loop, and goes as far south as Sawbill.

How To Take Your Girlfriend Ice Fishing

First things first, let’s just clear the air by stating that the following blog post is not exclusively about taking your girlfriend ice fishing. It’s about taking your girlfriend, boyfriend, best friend, or any other slightly reluctant adult ice fishing for the first time. We were simply inspired by the recent video on Jay Siemens’ Youtube channel about “What NOT to do when you take your girlfriend ice fishing.” This is not a gender specific post. Whew! Moving on . . . . 

As a girlfriend who has been taken ice fishing, I have a little insight on this subject. I went ice fishing a grand total of once as a child (it was cold, we caught one fish) and it wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that ice fishing became a regular winter activity for me. Since I wasn’t raised by anglers, I’m not sure I could have really explained what a tip-up was on that first “grown-up” ice fishing trip, so the ball was firmly in the court of the person taking me ice fishing to show me it was an experience worth repeating. Luckily, Andy was up to the challenge, and while I might not always be the most cheerful ice fishing companion (see photo below), for the last decade, I’ve accompanied Andy ice fishing on a fairly regular basis.  

If you’re looking to turn your BFF into an IFFF – that’s short for “Ice Fishing Friend Forever – here are our best tips to get them enjoying ice fishing so that they’re actually willing to go ice fishing with you again (and again and again): 

Action, action, action 

The tips we go over in last year’s “The Best Ice Fishing Lakes for Kids” post are as applicable to adult first-timers as they are to kids. For that first ice fishing trip with your would-be IFFF, you want to choose a lake that you’re confident can deliver fast results. We know you’re excited to take your significant other out fishing, but now’s not the time to take them out to that one lake you need to bushwhack into that you’ve heard good things about but you’ve never actually fished. Take them to a lake you know well and to a spot that consistently delivers. 

Don’t abuse their good nature

Here’s a scenario for you. Let’s say your significant other is really into running. You’ve watched them lace up their shoes religiously every other day, you’ve cheered them on at countless 5ks, and now they’re training for their first marathon. You’ve never run a mile, but you’re inspired. You mention in passing that you’d like to go running with them some time. They take you up on your offer and invite you along on their next run. Now are you more likely to going running with them a second time if they A) take you out on a five-mile tempo run with no water breaks or if they B) take you on a leisurely run/walk option around a couple blocks?   

If your partner announces that they’d like to go ice fishing with you sometime, YAY! Now wield your power carefully. While you might suddenly have visions of that snowmobile-in ice fishing trip in Manitoba you’ve been dreaming of finally becoming a reality, now is not the time to start planning a multi-day ice fishing expedition. Nope, now is the time to carve out a couple hours on a sunny afternoon for a low-key, low-pressure first-time ice fishing trip. You want your partner saying, “hey that was pretty fun, when can we go again?” not “Can we go home now?” 

There is such a thing as too much helpful advice 

One of the best things you can do is rig up your partner’s rod with whatever tackle and bait you think works best for where you’re fishing and then letting them have at it. Maybe their jigging technique makes you cringe. Maybe you’re 100% sure they’re not dropping their line deep enough. Be conservative in how much advice you volunteer and don’t feel the need to coach them through every step. Sure, they might lose a couple fish on their way up to the hole before they totally get how to set the hook and keep tension on the line, but if they care, they will learn. If they don’t care, they’re not listening to you anyway, so save your breath. Let them ask the questions that will help them become better anglers and be okay with the fact that their techniques might differ from yours. Your way or the highway is not a good approach to ice fishing . . . or your relationship. 

Fun vs. fish

Remember, they’re not going to come with you again if they don’t have any fun, so you might have to let go of a little fishing hubris. Don’t get caught up in fishing ultimatums that you might hold yourself to if you were fishing alone. This is not the time to declare “we never pack up until a full half hour after sunset” or “nobody goes anywhere until one of us catches a 10 lb trout.” Maybe you never keep fish, but your fishing partner is pretty keen to take the fish they just landed home for dinner. Let them! It’s supposed to be fun.  

Consider latrine proximity 

While this is a gender specific tip, there’s no getting around the fact that toileting in the woods is more of an ordeal for women, especially when bundled up for winter weather. If you happen to be a male taking a female ice fishing off the Gunflint Trail for the first time, it’s a nice gesture to select a fishing area that’s close to a Boundary Waters campsite so they can use the latrine if they prefer.

Choose your date carefully 

You might be anxious to get out ice fishing as soon as the ice is safe, but if you’re looking to cultivate an IFFF, you might consider waiting to take that first ice fishing trip together until mid to late March. Along the Gunflint Trail, late March is the best time to go ice fishing because the longer, sunnier days knock down the snow and slush to make for easy lake travel and after the long winter, ice fishing in sunny 40 degree weather feels downright tropical and fantastic. Besides, nothing builds anticipation like having one great ice fishing trip in late March and then not being able to go again for another nine months.

Bring snacks and extra warm clothing 

If this is the first time your partner has gone ice fishing, they might not know what kind of outdoor clothing they need to be comfortable ice fishing, or they just straight up might not own the right clothing. To avoid your partner getting literal cold feet, throw in some hand and feet warmers, an extra jacket or vest, a balaclava, and an extra pair of mittens. A hot thermos of coffee or hot cocoa to share is a good way to warm up and pass the slow time when the fish aren’t biting. Don’t forget some snacks!  

The 10 Most Instagrammable Places on the Gunflint Trail in Winter

We’re hopping on the “photo or it didn’t happen” bandwagon today and rounding up our top 10 absolute favorite places to take winter photos on the Gunflint Trail. While you could absolutely take stunning photos at any of these locations year-round, we think these public spots in the Superior National Forest and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness really are at their photogenic finest under a beautiful blanket of snow.

These aren’t only the Gunflint Trail’s most scenic spots, they can also all be accessed via existing roads or hiking trails, so you can visit and photograph without worrying about creating a loved to death Instagram hotspot. Together, we can keep your followers happy by taking them along on your Gunflint Trail winter vacation while preserving the wilderness experience for future visitors. Your Instagram account will never have looked so good! 

View from Top of the Seagull Lake Palisades in the Boundary Waters

Top 10 Gunflint Trail for Instagram Photos

1) Snowy Gunflint Trail

The snow-covered Gunflint Trail Road in northern Minnesota outside of Grand Marais, MN

Let’s start with some low hanging fruit here. If you’re going to be on the Gunflint Trail in the winter, you’re going to have to drive on the Gunflint Trail in all its scenic snowy glory. If you’re looking for a spot to pull off to get a pretty shot of snow-flocked pines during your drive, consider the parking lot on the left-hand side just north of the South Brule River Bridge (approximately 19 miles up the Gunflint Trail) or the Swamper Lake pull-off (approximately 24 miles up the Trail) on the right. Remember, the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway is a remote wilderness road, so drive carefully and watch for moose!

2) Caribou Rock Hiking Trail West Bearskin Lake Overlook

Caribou Rock Overlook on West Bearskin Lake along the Caribou Rock hiking trail on the Gunflint Trail in Cook County, MN
The Caribou Rock Hiking Trail is a seven-mile roundtrip hike in the Mid-Trail region of the Gunflint Trail, but you only need to hike the trail about a quarter mile to reach the Caribou Rock Overlook where you’ll find a spectacular eastern view of the entire length of West Bearskin Lake. Can you imagine how stunning your photos would be if you came here for sunrise? If you continue hiking, you’ll reach great vistas of Moss and Rose Lakes, eventually cross into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and reach the waterfall along the Stairway Portage between Duncan and Rose Lakes. To access the trail, drive two miles down the Hungry Jack Road (Cook County Rd 65) to the public parking area. 

3) Bridal Falls on Gunflint Lake 

Frozen Bridal Falls on Gunflint Lake in winter

Located seven miles down Gunflint Lake, it’s definitely an adventure to reach Bridal Falls. Although you can access Bridal Falls from a spur trail off the Border Route Hiking Trail, the easiest way to reach this photogenic waterfall in the winter is heading down Gunflint Lake on either snowmobile or skis to the most eastern bay on the lake’s southern shore. From there, follow the (signed) path along the western side of the flowage about a 1/3 mile to the waterfall. This is a great subzero destination since the extra cold temps cause the waterfall to freeze in beautiful icy formations and the cold also knocks down any slush that could slow down your travels on Gunflint Lake. 

4) Any Boundary Waters Sign

BWCAW Entrypoint #52 Brant Lake Boundary Waters sign

Anyone can say they went to the Boundary Waters this winter, but how are we suppose to believe you if you don’t pose in front of a Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness sign to mark your official entrance in the federally designated wilderness area? You’ll bump into one of these signs whenever you enter the Boundary Waters from a public access point. From Tuscarora’s location on Round Lake, the fastest sign to reach is the one along the portage from Round Lake to Missing Link Lake. You’ll run into the sign about 1/3 of the way up the 142-rod portage.

Bonus points if you can find a sign that doesn’t have the word “wilderness,” which likely means the sign was placed before the 1978 BWCAW Act. We know where two pre-1978 signs are on the Gunflint Trail. Do you?

5) Cross River along the Round Lake Road

Gunflint Trail's Cross River along the Round Lake Road near Tuscarora Lodge and Canoe Outfitters

Sure, we’re biased, but we think the most beautiful spot on the Gunflint Trail that you can reach by car is the Round Lake Road (Cook County Rd 47) when you drive along the Cross River rapids about half a mile up the road from the Gunflint Trail. We love watching how the river changes with the seasons: from rushing rapids in the spring to being almost completely ice-covered during especially chilly winters. In the early winter, moisture from the river often settles on neighboring tree branches to create exquisite hoar frost or rime. If you’re especially lucky, you might spot an otter eating its catch near the top of the rapids and even if you don’t spot the otter himself, be sure to look for otter slide tracks that almost always line the river banks in winter. After you take your photos, turn around safely by continuing up the road to the turn-off to the Round Lake Public Access or turn around at Tuscarora Lodge and Canoe Outfitters. 

6) Centennial Hiking Trail Overlook

Overlook of Gunflint Trail beaver ponds, Gunflint Trail road, and Gunflint Lake from the Centennial Hiking Trail
Besides the Magnetic Rock Trail, the Centennial Hiking Trail is a great Gunflint Trail snowshoe trail option. If you don’t want to hike the entire 3.3 mile loop, we think you get your best photo-op just a little ways up the trail from the Round Lake Rd when you come to a sweeping vista of the beaver ponds below and a glimpse of both the Gunflint Trail and Gunflint Lake in the distance. To reach the overlook, park at the Centennial Trail pull-off about 3/10ths of a mile up the road after you turn off the Gunflint Trail. To hike the entire trail, park at the trailhead’s parking lot located approximately 48 miles up the Gunflint Trail on the left-hand side.    

7) George Washington Pines

Misty George Washington Pines ten minutes outside of Grand Marais, MN offers 3.3 km hiking or cross country ski trail

Just ten minutes outside of Grand Marais, the George Washington Pines is a favorite local destination in winter for its easy 3.3 km loop groomed cross-country ski trail through a 1932 Boy Scouts red pine plantation. There’s something magical about standing in an old growth forest where every tree you see is older than you and you might just think you’re catching glances of Narnia’s Mr. Tumnus in your peripheral vision as you ski through the Pines. This is also a great place to stop if you want a photo of one those quintessential “Superior National Forest” Forest Service signs. 

8) Gunflint Lake from North Gunflint Lake Rd

Frozen Gunflint Lake looking at the U.S. and Canada in northern Minnesota's Boundary Waters

One of the easiest spots to getting a sweeping panoramic shot of a Gunflint Trail border lake is from the snow plow turnaround spot just before the Cross River Bridge on the North Gunflint Lake Road (Cook County Rd 46). From this spot, you’ll capture Canada on the left hand side and the U.S. on the right side of your photo and you’ll spy cliffs on North Lake a good ten miles off in the distance. In you swing by this spot for a photo-op, don’t forget to look behind you. The cattail marsh next to the Cross River as well as views from the bridge are absolutely beautiful in the winter! 

9) Seagull Palisades

Ice fisherman walk past the Seagull Lake Palisade Cliffs in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Perhaps the most photographed spot on Seagull Lake, the Seagull Palisades located about halfway down the lake’s north shore are on of the Gunflint Trail’s most rewarding photography destinations. They look beautiful photographed from the ice below, photographed up close, or from following a trail on the west side of the cliffs to reach the top for a birds-eye view of the BWCA. You’ll have to venture into the Boundary Waters to get these photo, so don’t forget to grab a day-use permit at the Seagull Lake Public Access before you and your iPhone head out.

If you head out to the Palisades this winter, we definitely recommend approaching them from the south, since the ice is notoriously sketchy in the narrow channel  directly east of the Palisades between the lake’s north shore and an island. For this same reason, in winter, we favor using the main Seagull Lake Public Access on the southeast shore of the lake (also referred to as Blankenburg Public Landing) rather than tangling with the thin ice you can run into from the public access at Trail’s End Campground.  

10) You With A Fish

Crappie fishing in the eastern Boundary Waters off the Gunflint Trail

We’re guilty as charged: our Instagram account is mostly fish pics from about mid-December until the end of March. (Sorry, not sorry. We know what we like . . . .) One of the Gunflint Trail’s biggest winter draws is its access to world-class ice fishing and whether you’re going for lake trout, walleye, crappies, or smallmouth (hey, it’s happened!) through the ice, be sure to snap a photo of you and your fish on ice before you pop it back in the drink. #catchandrelease! 

What are your favorite places to take photos on the Gunflint Trail in the winter?

We know we skipped a few crowd favorites: Honeymoon Bluff, Magnetic Rock, and the Clearwater Palisades to name a few. Let us know in the comments below!

How Not To Hit A Moose on the Gunflint Trail

Pretty much everyone who drives up the Gunflint Trail would consider it a pretty good day if they spied a moose along the way. But sometimes vehicle/moose encounters are exciting for all the wrong reasons: locked brakes, floundering moose, muttered curse words . . . . As you might imagine, vehicle collisions with 1000+ lb moose don’t end well for either of the involved parties. While hopefully you’ll just walk away with a damaged (if not totaled) vehicle, sadly, it often the moose is injured to the point of needing to be dispatched moose. 

Just last night, Andy and I encountered a total of five moose within a two-mile stretch when driving home, so we figured it was high time we pass on some tips to make sure your next “up close and personal” with a moose isn’t too up close and personal.

Exercise special caution driving the Trail in the winter and at night 

While you could run into a moose on the Trail any time of day or season, moose are crepuscular meaning they feed at dawn and dusk and are thus most active when it’s the absolute hardest to see. It seems like moose/vehicle collisions always ratchet up in the winter and while you might point to slippery roads as the leading factor in those crashes, we actually had the most moose accidents in recent memory on the Gunflint Trail a couple years back during a stretch in late November and early December when the road was completely snow and ice free. So if moose/vehicle collision occur even on dry pavement, what was the one common denominator in those crashes? Darkness. While you’d think you’d never miss a massive animal like a moose if it was hanging out right in front of you, moose’s dark coats allow them to hide in the shadows of your high beams with surprising ease. 

Slow down on curves and the crest of hills 

I’m not sure what moose mommies and daddies are teaching their kids, but they certainly aren’t spending those precious childhood moments teaching moose babies not to play in the road. Moose have an uncanny penchant for hanging out like massive specters at the very worst places on the road. In an effort to deter moose from their middle of the road antics, the highway department doesn’t salt the Gunflint Trail except in extreme circumstances, but there’s still something about low visibility spots on the road that moose seem to find irresistible. Although 99% of the time there won’t be a moose lurking in the middle of the road when you come around a corner, you’ll be so happy you slowed down that one time your headlights are reflected back at you in two glittering moose eyeballs. 

Know your high-traffic moose areas 

Sure, the entire Gunflint Trail is moose country, but there are two very distinct locations on the Trail where you’re more likely to encounter a moose on the road. If you’re driving up the road, exercise particular caution once you cross the South Brule bridge until you reach the East Bearskin Road and again from the Mayhew Road until the Loon Lake Road. When driving in those areas, be on the lookout for fresh tracks and drive cautiously until those tracks appear to head off into the woods definitively.

Prepare for erratic behavior 

Look, no one accused Bullwinkle of being the smartest critter in the forest. (See above critique of moose parenting.) If you encounter a moose on a roadway, you might be surprised by its behavior. Sometimes moose will take off for the ditch only to double back into the road just as you’re about to pass them. They’ve been know to weave back and forth across the road for several minutes or run for a couple miles straight in front of you before finding a break in the ditch they deem acceptable for them to use to head off into the woods. Be as patient as you can and let the moose do its moosey thing without doing anything that could stress the critter out, like honking or following too closely. 

Wishing you all happy and healthy moose/vehicle encounters this winter driving season!