The Grand Portage Hiking Trail

MODERATE 1 reviews

The Grand Portage Hiking Trail is a 6.9 mile out and back trail located near Grand Portage, Minnesota that features a lake. The trail is rated as moderate offers a number of activity options. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
6.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
561 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

canoeing

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

forest

lake

river

views

wildlife

bugs

historic site

Day parking is available at the Monument parking lot. If you are planning on overnight parking for camping at Fort Charlotte you may want to ask at the Monument Ranger Station about parking.

hiking
2 months ago

When you visit the Grand Portage National Monument you'll notice a signpost just behind the fort for the "Grand Portage" itself. This is the beginning of the actual portage the fur traders used to transport their canoes and goods between Lake Superior and the old Fort Charlotte on the Pigeon River that is the border between the US and Canada.

The portage is 8.5 miles and for those willing to walk in the shoes (or moccasins) of the ancient explorers this is a nice day hike in and back from the fort at Grand Portage to the old Fort Charlotte site and back.

The hike starting at the Lake Superior fort and back will take approximately 7 hours, so its a full day hike, but if you want to make it shorter you can start at the portage crossover point on either Old Highway 61 or Cowboys Road. This will cut the hiking time considerably without losing any of the scenery or historical perspective of what the explorers went through.

The trail itself is quite wide and very well maintained. I hiked it a few days after a half inch rain and during a rain storm, so the path was quite muddy. This trail does not handle rain well so you won't enjoy this hike unless its dry, but when dry you can move quickly and easily. The footing is good and there are very few steep areas. You will not find vista views, but the forest, marsh and wildlife is abundant. I didn't see any moose, but there were a lot of footprints on the trail and the grouse were everywhere.

Once you get to the old Fort Charlotte site there are picnic tables, tent platforms and a nice canoe landing for the Pigeon River. This is a great place for lunch or a snack to take in the history and sounds of this ancient trail. I was welcomed by a group of swans that took flight when I arrived. The parks service also has a set of informative signs that take about the fort, the portage and it;s history.

I applaud the park service for keeping this trail in excellent shape. There were several places that you could see the work being done on maintaining the trail adding or fixing walkways and building steps. You really get the sense that this portage must have been extremely difficult when carrying long and large canoes and heavy packs. I hiked this in September and there were really no bugs to deal with, but I can image that bugs could be oppressive during the summer and certainly a few hundred years ago for the voyagers.

I'd recommend this hike for it's historic significance. This has been an active trail and trade routes for several hundred years or more. It's a good hike to add in with a hike to Eagle Mountain or if you're hiking sections of the Superior Hiking Trail, and if you don't want to do the whole Grand Portage start at Old Highway 61 or Cowboy Rd.