5 Great Reasons to Come to Grand Marais in December

Holiday Art Underground

Betsy Bowen Studio
November 29-December 27, 2019

Dozens of local artists have their beautiful work here for the holidays.  Come for cookies, hot tea, and a colorful eyeful!

More info on Betsy’s Instagram: @betsybowen

Betsy Bowen Studio
Grand Marais Lighthouse: Woodcut by Betsy Bowen

Weaving Holiday Ornaments From Birch Bark

North House Folk School
December 7-8, 2019

Start your holiday season off with a weekend on the North House Folk School campus weaving traditional and contemporary ornaments from birch bark. Explore a range of birch bark weaving, from the simple bead to the 3-dimensional birch bark star.

Space is limited – don’t wait to book!

Course Details

Michael Monroe: Log Cabin Concerts

Michael’s Log Cabin
November 28 and December 31, 2019

Join Michael Monroe for an enchanting evening of north shore harmonies…a performance and reception in his beautiful log home on the North Shore of Lake Superior, located 7 miles outside of  GRAND MARAIS, MN.

MichaelMonroeMusic.com

Writer’s Salon with Staci Drouillard

Drury Lane Books
December 5, 2019

Drury Lane Books is excited to host local author Staci Drouillard for a reading and signing of her new book, Walking the Old Road: A People’s History of Chipppewa City and the Grand Marais Anishinaabe.

Event Details

Dark Sky Festival

Various Locations
December 13-14, 2019

ook County is home to one of the darkest skies in the nation. Every year, explorers, adventurers, artists and photographers from around the world travel to Cook County to experience the northern lights. Help us to celebrate this darkest season of the month at the second annual Dark Sky Festival!

Festival Details
Northern Lights by Dennis O'hara


Spring At North House Folk School

Learn Something New

Learn a true traditional Northern craft this Spring. The North House Folk School in Grand Marais is leading the way with courses offered in birding by ear: mid-migration, market basket weaving and build your own fishing rod to name a few. Check out the North House Calendar

FYI, Students Save 10% on Lodging at East Bay Suites!

Courses You May Want To Consider

Black Ash Market Basket – Instructors: Kerry Lamberston & April Stone


The market basket will take you many places: from the market to the beach, from picnics to grocery stores.

3-Day Course: Fri, May 17th, 2019  –  Sun, May 19th, 2019 – 9am-5pm

 SPACE AVAILABLE


Design Your Own Small House – Instructor: Mark Hansen

If you have ever dreamed of building your own small home, shop, sauna, studio, or cabin, this course is for you.

2-Day Course: Sat, May 4th, 2019  –  Sun, May 5th, 2019

 SPACE AVAILABLE


Crafting the Throwing Axe – Instructor: Cody Myers

Popularized today by many historical reenactors of the fur trade era, the throwing axe is a weapon that is deeply embedded in North American history.

4-Day Course: Thu, Apr 18th, 2019  –  Sun, Apr 21st, 2019

 SPACE AVAILABLE

Black Ash Pack Baskets – Instructor: Ian Andrus

The black ash pack basket: it’s beautiful, highly functional and can be made using simple materials.

3-Day Course: Fri, Jul 26th, 2019  –  Sun, Jul 28th, 2019

 JOIN WAIT LIST


Build Your Own Fishing Pole – Instructor: Kris Kristufek


There’s that old saying about teaching a man to fish, but this course lets students go a step beyond fishing to building their own fishing rods.

2.5 Day Course: Fri, Apr 26th, 2019  –  Sun, Apr 28th, 2019

 ALMOST FULL

8 Minute Walk to the Folk School from East Bay Suites


5 Must See Waterfalls

The North Shore is home to some stunning waterfalls, and many are just a short drive from East Bay Suites!

 

Cascade River State Park – Lutsen, Minnesota (9.1 mi)

cascade

This park allows you to get a full day of waterfall watching in due to the amount of waterfalls that it has within its gorge. Cascade Falls suddenly begins ten miles above Highway 61 and then flows into Lake Superior. To hike both sides of the Cascade River, park at the river mouth and follow the trail signs. This amazing stop will leave you in awe.


Devil’s Kettle – Grand Marais, Minnesota (15.6 mi)

devilskettle

Want to see a waterfall that even has geologists scratching their heads? If so, Devil’s Kettle is the place to be. The waterfall comes from the Brule River, which flows through Judge C.R. Magney State Park on the North Shore of Lake Superior and then splits into two streams. The waterfall that flows from the right drops 50 feet and then flows into Lake Superior. The left waterfall drops into a sinkhole and disappears. Geologists have an inkling that the water may be flowing back into the right stream due to measuring the speed of the water before and after they split off. But they cannot be certain.


Poplar River – Lutsen, MN (21.2 mi)

poplar river

A short and easy hike from the Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, Minnesota are the bustling Poplar River Falls, which are surrounded by a lush green forest. In addition to these falls, there is another waterfall not too far away on the same river.

Pigeon River – Grand Portage, Minnesota (40.6 mi)

GrandPortagePigeonRiver

Ever wonder where the tallest waterfall in Minnesota is? We have the answer. Visit Grand Portage State Park to view the 120 foot Pigeon River cascade, which crashes down into a pool of water and then out to Lake Superior. To find the waterfall, one must hike 1 mile from the parking lot to the observation platform of the falls. The interesting thing is, the platform is also located at the International Border of the United States and Canada.


Kakabeka Falls – Oliver Paipoonge, Ontario (79.7 mi)

Picture1

Kakabeka Falls, also known as the “Niagara of the North,” is the perfect place to end your waterfall tour. Located in Canada, the 131 foot waterfall will take your breath away. To get there, drive 34 miles north of the border and then take ON 130 for 13 miles. Keep an eye out for the signs!

Get a first look of the waterfalls: 


Girls Getaway in Grand Marais

FRIDAY

Poplar RiverFirst stop: Waterfalls.

Half of the fun of coming up to Grand Marais for the weekend is the drive up. The drive along the North Shore is gorgeous and there are plenty of places that you won’t want to miss on your way up. One being, the waterfalls. There are more than a dozen waterfalls that you can stop to see along the way. This article about waterfalls near Grand Marais and also includes a map of the others you can hit along the way. Bonus – they’ll serve as the perfect backdrop for a picture with your besties! Trust me, your Instagram feeds will thank you.Read more


Try Something New

North Shore Spring Break Pro-Tip #6:
Try Something New

Have you ever wanted to learn traditional crafts of the north? Explore new territories of the Northwoods but without pesky bugs!? We suggest that you take the family on a Spring Break venture to Grand Marais for a memorable stress-free getaway!

The best of Minnesota “Grand Marais” has many activities for you and your family to try. Enjoy our guide to the most rewarding North Shore Spring Break trip ~ Northwoods style.

Explore the natural beauty of the North

Deep in the tall pines of the Northwoods, the world is hushed by a blanket of powdery snow. Glide the groomed trails past the frozen ponds and hear only the snow crunch underfoot, branches creaking, and wildlife stirring far off in the forest. Explore the chill and thrill of the crisp white trails by bike, xc ski or snowshoe.

Get away from it all on XC Skis

Escape to the woods and enjoy time with family and friends. Bring your own skis or rent from our partners at Stone Harbor – East Bay guests save 10% on all rentals.

Pinchusion Mountain Trails See the map
A short drive from East Bay Suites and a local favorite. It’s well groomed and wide, roughly 9 miles out & back. Great place to take in the amazing views of Grand Marais. You may even find blissful solitude ~ a true gem of Nordic skiing. 

George Washington Pines TrailSee the map
Just 6 miles up the Gunflint Trail. Perfect for beginner to intermediate skiers looking for a relatively shorter route – 3.3 km (2-miles). This trail passes through a beautiful grove of pines, planted by Boycotts in 1932 because of the 1927 fire.

Bally Creek Ski System – See the map
About a 25-minute drive from East Bay Suites. Ski trail system consisting of a “lollipop”, with the stick branching off the Cascade Ski Trails and then multiple loops near Bear Track Camp. 25 km (15-mile) trackset and 11 km (6.8-mile) skate-ski suited for all ski levels. 

Winter Biking at its Finest

Fat bikes, also known as fatties or fat tire bikes are super fun! Experience a new way of cycling, ride the beautifully snow-packed hills in the middle of the Northwoods. Venture further into the forest than ever before.

Pincushion Mountain Trail

Pinchusion Mountian Trails  – See the map
Jay and friends from Fireweed Bike Coop are the local volunteer grooming crew that maintain these trails and they do a fine job! Roughly 5 miles of pure fat enjoyment. These trails wind through deep forest and occasionally surprises you with views of the great lake they call Gitche Gumee.

Norpine TrailSee the map
This is a shared-use trail with XC skiers that stretches from Lutsen Mountains to Cascade State Park. A 12-mile out & back route that will ease the mind.

Learn a New Skill at the North House Folk School

Learn traditional northern crafts in a rugged outpost building looking over Grand Marais Harbor.

Wood carving and painting.

Wood Week – Learn more – Mar 5-9, 2019
Chips, shavings, and sawdust: Choose from a dozen courses in a variety of areas: carving, turning, hand tools and power tools.

Beed Weaving: Deerskin BagLearn more – Mar 2-3, 2019
Try your hand at a simple bead weaving project in this introductory course that teaches two distinct skills: bead weaving and leather sewing.

Carving and Painting on WoodLearn more – Mar 9-10, 2019
Woodenware has been embellished since ancient Egypt: by adding color, pattern, and texture, a finished piece reflects the taste, culture, and interests of you, the maker.

Anishinaabe-Style Beaded Baby Moccasins Learn more – Mar 30-31, 2019
Discover the designs, color, styles, and technique of traditional bead embroidery while crafting moccasins designed for baby feet.

Scenic, North Shore Winter Hikes

In winter, hikers find serenity and stark beauty on trails above Lake Superior. Borrow our brand new snowshoes!

Artists PointSee the map
Within walking distance from East Bay Suites is one of the best hiking spots in Grand Marais. This Family & dog-friendly hike is where most people fall in love with hiking 🙂 Did we mention we’re dog-friendly! Bring the whole family. 

Sweethearts BluffTrailhead – Grand Marais Campground
This hike is about 1.25 miles round trip.  There are picnic shelters and benches along the way with stunning views of the harbor and Lake Superior’s shoreline. 

View Artists Point from the Sweethearts Bluff overlook

Chasing Northern Lights & Stargazing

Steller skies and northern lights illuminate our north star state. As the name suggests, the northern lights become more pronounced the further north you go. Which is why Grand Marais is the perfect location. Less light pollution certainly helps too.

Photo by Dennis O’Hara – Northern Lights


A Dog Friendly Vacation

Why you should bring the most important family member (your dog) with you to Grand Marais?

If you’re a dog owner, it probably doesn’t take much convincing to get you to agree to take your pup with you up the North Shore for a nice getaway. Who wouldn’t want their best friend along for some adventures? But you may not know how easy it is to bring your dog on vacation with you.

All dogs smile more on vacation

Dog-Friendly Accommodations.

East Bay Suites in Grand Marais is a dog-friendly resort right on the shore of Lake Superior. Not only do they have water and food bowls for each dog but they also provide pet sheets for furniture and beds. You will feel right at home with your best friend(s).

East Bay loves its furry guests so much that they also offer a Pooch Package. The package includes a collar brag tag, a dog water bottle and more! (Hint, there may be a discount involved).

Dog-Friendly Dining

Happy dogs on the rooftop patio at Voyageur Brewing

Happy dogs on the rooftop patio at Voyageur BrewingWe totally get it. If you’re going to bring your dog along for the vacation, you’re not going to leave him/her in the room during your whole stay. Luckily, there are a number of restaurants with dog-friendly outdoor seating.


Some of our favorite dog-friendly restaurants

Sydney’s Frozen Custard

World’s Best Donuts

Voyageur Brewing Company

Harbor House Grille

Hungry Jack Lodge Restaurant

Dockside Fish Market

My Sister’s Place


An Abundance of Hiking Trails

You’ll have no problem tiring out your four-legged friend(s). There are amazing trails for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing that are perfect to take your dog along on. Just to name a few…

George Washington Pines – a beautiful two and a half mile loop that is perfect during winter and summer to explore with your dog.

Pincushion Ski Trial – in the summer these ski trails are tremendous for tiring out your dog.

Superior Hiking Trail – a favorite for many North Shore travelers and pups. But try to choose times of the day that might not be busy with visitors or pick a starting point that might be farther away from town. The trail can get busy!

Shopping That Your Dog Can Do

If you happen to forget something at home for your dog or you feel like getting them a treat, Dog Hus in Grand Marais is the place to go. They have treats, leashes, toys, galore!

And if you forgot something for your outdoor adventure, Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply has you and your dog covered. They allow dogs right in the store and they also greet each dog with a treat. Now that’s service!

Great Community of Dog Owners

Go Dog North Shore maintains the dog park, shares fun things to do in the area for dogs, is an advocate for ski trails that are dog-friendly and more. They’re an amazing non-profit that is a huge reason for why Grand Marais is such a dog-friendly place.

If you have specific questions, reach out to Cathy Quinn of Go Dog North Shore at [email protected]

Dog Parks…possibly with a few horses.

The Gunflint Horse Arena and Dog Park is the perfect place for you to let your dog run free! It is here where dogs can get their happy yappy hour socializing with other dogs in a fun, safe environment. Yes, dogs need happy hours too.

 

 

And don’t let the name of the park worry you, horses do use this space too but the dogs aren’t allowed to play while they are there.

Photo Credits: Community of dog lovers and dog park photos courtesy of Go Dog North Shore. Used with permission.Views taken while hiking along the Superior Hiking Trail by m_e_mcarron licensed under CC-BY-SAPlay Time by m01229 licensed under CC-BYSmiling by Maja Dumat licensed under CC-BY


Fall Drive in the Red Hills

 

Gunflint Trail

Fall is a great time to stay at East Bay Suites in Grand Marais. You can put on a jacket and enjoy walking around the harbor and lake during the cooler weather. This artist's community is now covered with the natural paint of fall colors.

As far as the north shore goes, the lowlands around Grand Marais are already good for fall colors. It is in the vegetation zone regional experts Chel Anderson and Adelheid Fischer call "Mesic birch-aspen-spruce-fir”. So there are plenty of deciduous trees mixed in with the evergreens.

But people really seem to love the bright red fall leaves of the maple tree. Along the north shore, these trees are heavily concentrated along the ridgeline you’ll find a little inland from the lake. Much of this ridgeline is labeled "northern hardwood-conifer” by Anderson and Adelheid. Driving along these ridgelines is a good place to take a fall color drive. You will also pass into the other zones and see other trees mixed in.

An easy way to check out the maple zone is to head up the Gunflint Trail. You will pass along the side of the ridge and go through the maple zone for a few miles. Six miles up you will reach the appropriately named Maple Hill right before the lumberyard. A few miles after the lumberyard, you will notice the evergreens have really taken over.

If you decide to turn around, you can just come back to the resort on the Gunflint Trail. If you still want to see some more colors, you can make a right on Highway 8 (Devil Track Road.) You will then go straight when you reach Highway 6 and take 6 until you make a left onto Highway 7 East back into town.

This will take you into some good maple areas and through the ridge. Most of this area is thick woods, with few people.

If you are looking for a really long red ridge experience, you can take Highway 7 west from Grand Marais. When you get to Highway 45, make a right to continue west.  If you keep going on Highway 45, you will go straight onto Murmur Creek Road, which winds itself through the ridgeline all the way to the Caribou Trail. The trip to the Caribou Trail is 18 miles. According to Google, this should take about 45 minutes.

Be warned that this route involves traveling many miles of dirt road. But, it will get you deep into the woods and deep into those brilliant colors.

If you make a left, Caribou Trail becomes paved after a few miles. Going down Caribou Trail is an easy drive and also very good for colors. At the end of Caribou Trail you can make a left back toward Grand Marais.

For an easier fall color tour, you could also just drive down Highway 61 to the Caribou Trail and go up about 7 miles and come back. Like the Gunflint, it cuts through the colorful ridgeline.

In these back woods areas, you may not have a cell signal. So, it is a good idea to save the section you will be traveling offline on your Google Maps app. You could always bring a paper map as well.

This ridgeline is far from the only place to see trees and fall colors, but it is one of the best. There is something about these highlands that makes them particularly suited for maples, and for that beautiful red color we all love to see.

 

 

 

 

 


The Gunflint Trail: The Trail that Became a Road

We often call a person who does something new while causing others to follow a trailblazer. This analogy comes from the real trailblazers who marked real trails. Someone might have put some marks on trees as signposts through a seemingly undifferentiated mass of woods and swamps. Sometimes, nobody followed and the trail faded away. Other times, more and more people followed and the worn path became easier to walk on and easier to see. Sometimes trails were improved enough that they graduated into being roads. The Gunflint Trail is such a trail.

One thing you must understand is land routes over this part of the country were once rare.

“The waterways were the transportation routes of this part of the country. Before the roads came along everybody used canoes to get around and hiking was very modest,” said Bruce Kerfoot of the Gunflint Historical Society.

Although the trail is relatively new, history in the area is old. Native Americans lived and hunted in this area a long time and later traded with the Voyageurs. Later interactions between the natives and the newcomers led to the Gunflint Trail.

GunflintTrail-1944“The Indians developed a hiking trail from Gunflint Lake to Grand Marais,” said Bruce. “It was 45 miles with an overnight stop at Swamper City. They would walk to Grand Marais to get their supplies and then they would come back to Gunflint Lake and get in their canoes and paddle off to wherever they lived, because Gunflint was sort of a lake that helped you travel in a couple different directions in your canoe.”

Bruce mentions how the historical society sponsored a roadside turnout where Swamper City once stood. It was really just a cabin of a man who let those passing by sleep on his floor.

Over time, logging and then the prospects of profitable mining brought people up the trail and the trail gradually became a road. Optimism for these industries brought a different kinds of path—the railroads.

When using the railroad for logging was found unprofitable and mining didn’t pan out, the railroads went away. One railroad was the General Logging Company Railroad. It started its life working as a railroad only to become a road.

“They are using that right of way to drive on right now,” said Bruce. “It was part of the timber efforts from the Minnesota side to get the pine and the white pine.”

Parts of another railroad’s path are under the process of reverse-trailblazing and are returning to nature. This includes the remains Port Arthur railroad which once ran near the failed Paulsen mine all the way to Port Arthur (Thunder Bay).


“There is the right of way visible up around the Kekekabic Trail which gets kind of close to where the Paulsen Line was. They have some signage that relates to that at the trailhead of the trail,” said Bruce. “Once you get to the Canadian side it is getting grown and falling back to nature.”

Although nature is erasing history in places, one place is working to preserve the history of the Gunflint Trail–the Chik-Wauk museum. This museum is housed in a building from the old Chik-Wauk lodge, which was abandoned for many years. This lodge was built in 1934. This was built when the Gunflint was becoming more known for a wilderness vacation getaway than mining and lumber.

stelprdb5187870The museum is open during the summer and highlights much history including that of the early Native Americans, the Voyageurs, later Europeans, and even geology. The museum is currently adding five more buildings to the site and adding many more interpretive trails. The museum currently has two full-time staff members and other workers.

“They are historically versed people who have lived in the community for years and they are there to tell history stories and legends and those sorts of thing,” said Bruce. “It is a very alive and very active museum. We are averaging between nine and ten thousand visitors a year.”

Bruce notes that much of the history is recent, since the area was settled relatively late in American history. It all started with a simple trail and people following this trail and making it bigger. Still, it is runs very close to wilderness that is still relatively untouched by civilization.

Snowy old gunflint trail photo from Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) Community Discussion Board
Lumber photo from WTIP
Gunflint Trail Map photo from United States Department of Agriculture