Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Posted by
Matt McIntosh, BWCA guide

Lake of the Week: Gunflint Lake


Campers watch the sun go down over Gunflint Lake

Scanning a map of the eastern Boundary Waters, some names stand out because of the sheer size of the lake. Gunflint Lake, on the Canadian border, may not be as massive as Saganaga or Sea Gull, but the variety of opportunities available there put it in the same class of timeless, massive Boundary Waters lakes. 

The easy and stunning ninety minute drive from Grand Marais to Gunflint Lake makes it accessible to all. Once there, travelers can stay in one of several different lakeside lodges — a Northwoods tradition and staple of the region’s economy. Day permits can be acquired for entry into the Boundary Waters Wilderness itself, just a short paddle away. The Granite River is a terrific day trip where anglers can fish below rocky swifts and swimmers can find rushing water and boulders to relax on. 

Looking for a backcountry adventure deep into the Boundary Waters, or even the Quetico? Gunflint Lake is also a terrific launching point for trips on the Granite River to Saganaga, to the north and west. From Saganaga, the deep wilderness of the Quetico and the central Boundary Waters stretch out before you. Alternatively, begin your trip by paddling the east down Gunflint, taking nearly a day to fully experience Gunflint’s size before dipping your paddle into some of the Boundary Waters’ most impressive lakes like Rose, Mountain, and Watap. 

Paddling and portaging can take you to incredible places from Gunflint. But some anglers know that it’s just as good to stay on the huge lake’s friendly waters. The walleye opener — May 12th in 2018 — brings anglers flocking each year to this world-class lake trout and walleye lake. 

Whether you’ve spent years enjoying the Boundary Waters, or you’ve always day-dreamed about exploring its clear waters, rocky shores and deep forests, Gunflint Lake is a perfect place to base, begin or end your trip.