There were some longer hikes possible on the outskirts of the trail network, but the most popular hikes were color-coded and very well-marked:
My husband was our trusted navigator, except for when he tried to pretend we were lost.
On the first day (minus Wish), we went straight for the High Cliffs route, which was described as a challenging path with the best views of the Northwoods, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and the promise that hikers could see for miles into the Canadian wilderness.
It was a challenging (but pretty short) scramble to the top, and the view was totally worth it.
|surveying the scene|
|Canada's on the other side of the lake|
Later in the day, we were on a pontoon boat on Gunflint Lake and got a cool view of where we had just hiked. We were standing on top of those sheer cliffs in the top third of this photo:
Josh pointed it out, just for good measure:
We continued on and linked together a couple of other routes to make a longer hike. (I think we were out for two hours.) We knew the forecast for the rest of our trip included a higher risk of rain, so we wanted to take advantage of the gorgeous day. By all accounts, the fall color was beginning late, so there were only pops of orange and red, but the whole forecast was highlighted with gold undertones and you could see how amazing it would be in a week. Actually, the fall colors changed even over the course of our short trip.
We also walked by some monstrous trees, which we found out at our night hike are white pines that were too young and small to cut down during the logging era a century ago:
We walked past those white pines during the night hike, with a nearly full moon overhead, and they were even more striking in the dark. The night hike was nearly two hours, and a group of us headed out on the horse trails with the moon as our only light. The naturalist covered celestial legends, pointed out constellations, and talked about the Northern Lights. (We never saw them, but I vow to return in the winter because they sound magnificent!)
The next day was cloudy but warmer than the previous day, and we headed out with Wish for our third hike. We didn't think he was quite ready for the High Cliffs trail, so we took him to Lonely Lake and Lookout Point. Despite this photo looking like he's trying to walk perpendicular to the trail, he had the time of his life scrambling and smelling and scampering.
Our first stop: Lonely Lake, about one-half mile in from the trailhead. The trail ends at a boardwalk/dock overlooking Lonely Lake.
It was a beautiful, quiet morning, and we sat down on the dock and enjoyed the view. The lake was so still that the tree reflections were gorgeous.
Then we headed back up the boardwalk...
Then we headed back to our cabin and Wish was conked out in front of the fireplace within minutes. We loved our time on the Gunflint hiking paths.