Fall/Winter Natutalist Programs

Educational Endeavors

Fire and Ice Geology Presentation

This part of Minnesota is one of the most geologically stable places on Earth.  However, this was not always so.  Learn about the incredible events of the past 2.5 billion years that have shaped this beautiful landscape.

Great Lakes Ghost Stories Presentation

The tales of ghost ships, haunted lighthouses, and other restless spirits which inhabit the five Great Lakes are told in this enlightening activity.

Gunflint History Presentation

Gunflint Lodge was built in 1925 as a small fishing outpost.  Justine and her family first came up here in 1927, and took full control of the resort in 1929.  We will explore the history of the Lodge from that time, all the way to the present, in this fascinating presentation.

Gunflint History Tour

Take an interactive journey through the history of Gunflint Lodge.  We will start our tour back in 1925, and journey all the way to the present.  The walking on this activity will be minimal, but the experience will be great.

The Life of a Voyageur Presentation

Did you know that the Voyageurs paddled right through Gunflint Lake, and along much of the U.S. / Canadian border?  Learn who these adventurers were, and what their lives were like centuries ago.

Minnesota Ghost Stories Presentation

Did you know that most of the college campuses in Minnesota are reputed to be haunted?  How about that you most likely passed several haunted sites on the way up here.  Learn about these stories and much more at the Minnesota Ghost Stories program.

Orienteering Interactive Presentation

Learn how to read a map and compass, two of the most important skills in wilderness travel, in this informative, hands-on activity.

Saturday Night Sing Along

Sit around the fireplace in the Gunflint Nature Center, and enjoy a night of singing led by the naturalists.  We have a diverse group of songs available in order to have something for everyone to enjoy.

Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes Presentation

Learn about many of the major shipwrecks of the Great Lakes through stories, songs, and pictures.  Some of the ships that will be discussed are the Griffon, Lady Elgin, Eastland, George M. Cox, Carl D. Bradley, Daniel J. Morrell, and the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Stories of the Northwoods Presentation

Winter is the time that the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe/Chippewa) pass on stories that have been told for generations and are an integral part of their culture.  Learn some of these stories, along with many other stories that are indigenous to the Northwoods, while sitting by the cozy fireplace in the Gunflint Nature Center.

Wildfire Ecology Presentation

Wildfires are a major part of the ecology of the boreal forest of the Gunflint Trail, and surrounding wilderness areas.  Come to this informative program and learn how wildfire ecology works, and hear about the recent wildfire history of this beautiful region.

Cross Country Skiing Excursions

Amperage Run Trail

This trail runs through a scenic wetland valley between the Lonely Lake Trail and Gunflint Lake.  There are several small hills which make this trail moderate in difficulty.

Ancient Cedars of the Lonely Lake Trail

Take a fascinating skiing excursion through some of the oldest white cedars in the state.   This is a great trail for all levels of skiers.

Big Pine Trail

The Big Pine Trail winds through forest, by a cedar swamp, and along ridges which give you a nice view of Gunflint Lake.  This trail has a big uphill at the beginning, and a big downhill at the end.  The rest is easy, giving it a moderate difficulty rating.

Geology of the West End Trail

This trail abounds with glacial till, scenic views, beautiful wetlands, and tree lined corridors.  Due to the hilly nature of this excursion, it is rated as challenging.

Jack Pines of the Ham Lake Trail

Snow covered jack pines form broken green and white curtains on one of our most remote ski trails.  Come and enjoy one of our more timeless Northwoods skiing experiences.  A moderate difficulty rating should be considered when signing up for this activity.

Moose Tracks of the North Star Trail

This is one of the best animal tracking ski trails in the Northwoods.  It is not uncommon to see signs of moose, deer, and wolves on this well groomed trail.  Due to the presence of some hills, this excursion is moderate in difficulty.

Rabbit Run Trail

If you enjoy a challenge, then this is the trail for you.  Much of the trail goes down an invigorating slope on the front side of the Highlands Ridge.  Upon crossing the Gunflint Trail, Rabbit Run becomes easier overall, but still has some challenging hills upon which great views can be seen.  Due to the hilly nature of this excursion, it has been rated as challenging.

Spectacular Views of the Highlands Trail

This trail was voted best overall view of Gunflint Lake by the Gunflint Lodge Naturalists.  It also has a wonderful view of the neighboring Cross River Valley.  Most of the trail is of moderate difficulty, and if you are up to the challenge, you can try “Wipeout Hill” at the far end of this incredible trail.

Night Time Wilderness Excursions

Celestial Legends Night Hike

Have you ever heard the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd?”  Did you know that the song acted as a map for escaping slaves who were trying to gain their freedom, or that the drinking gourd is actually the Big Dipper?  Learn about this, along with other fascinating celestial facts and legends as we take a snowshoe trek under the stars.  Due to the lower light conditions, this activity is moderate in difficulty.

Full Moon Hike

Snowshoe by the light of the silvery moon, and enjoy our snowshoe trails from a whole new perspective.  Due to the lower light conditions, this activity carries a moderate difficulty rating.

Full Moon Ski

The full moon appears to be incredibly bright during the winter.  It is almost as though you are skiing during the day.  Come see and ski under this incredible sight.  There is a moderate difficulty rating due to the slightly dimmer light conditions.

Hike Under the Northern Lights

Let the dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis guide you as we learn the facts and legends behind the Northern Lights.  Our destinations of this excursion are Lookout Point and Lonely Lake.  Due to the lower light conditions, this activity carries a moderate difficult rating..

Wolf Howling Hike

Join a naturalist on a night time trek through the wilderness as we communicate with one of the most spectacular of all northern animals, the gray wolf.  Along the way, we will learn about the wolf, and why it likes to howl.  This activity carries a moderate difficulty rating due to the lower light conditions.

Daytime Hiking/Snowshoeing Excursions

Animal Tracking

Winter is the best time of the year to track animals.  Not only do the animals use our trails, but a fresh coat of snow is like a clean piece of paper with which to see the tracks.

Boreal Birding

The boreal forest is a fascinating place to view birds.  Some of the unique birds which inhabit this area in the winter are the black-backed woodpecker, gray jay, pine grosbeak, and the common redpoll.  This activity will be a journey in which we will learn about, and hopefully see many of these amazing birds.

Geology of the High Cliffs

Did you know that the High Cliffs were formed well underground as geological sills about 1.8 billion years ago?  They remained underground until the glaciers exposed them about 20,000 years ago.  Did you know that on top of the High Cliffs, we can see the path of the glaciers?  Come on this challenging hike and see one of the best geological views in the lower 48 states.

Photography of Lookout Point

Learn the basics of wilderness photography on our easiest scenic overlook trail.  This is a great hike for adventurers of all ages.

Photography of the Lost Cliffs Overlook

Many people say this view is even greater than that of High Cliffs, because you can better see the contours of the land.  Come of this challenging, yet worthwhile excursion and judge for yourself.

Winter Ecology of the Hidden Trail

This trail remains hidden throughout the summer, and is a beautiful backwoods trail to travel in the winter.  Join us as we travel through an ancient cedar swamp, a young forest, then through the wetland adjoining Lonely Lake.  This is one of our easiest winter hiking excursions.

Winter Wetland Ecology of Lonely Lake

In the winter, we have a much bigger trail system around Lonely Lake on which to explore the wetland ecosystem.  Due to the spring fed nature of the lake, it is not safe to go on the ice, but it is safe to walk on the surrounding trails.  This is one of our easiest, yet most secluded hikes.

Crafting Endeavors

Birch Bark Bookmarks

This is a rewarding craft in which we take thin pieces of birch bark, and craft a nice bookmark which will mark your pages for many years.

Candle Making

Learn how to make your own sand and dip candles in this fun and educational craft.  Due to the length of time it takes to heat the wax, please sign up at least two hours in advance.

Dream Catchers

Making dream catchers is an Anishinaabe tradition in which you make a willow frame, weave a web of sinew, and decorate it with beads and feathers.  The good dreams find their way through the small hole in the center, while the other dreams get caught in the outer web and disappear in the morning.

Northwoods Candle Holders

Craft a beautiful new candle holder out of birch, balsam fir, aspen, or other wood we may have on hand.

Northwoods Magnets

Create a great refrigerator magnet out of natural materials from the area.  Some of the things that have been made in the past have been birch bark signs, animals made of pine cones, and small rocks which have been put together is various forms.

Northwoods Pencil Holders

In the activity, we will saw, drill, and sand a piece of wood into a pencil holder you can be proud of the many years to come.

Peanut Butter Bird Feeders

We make these creative bird feeders by taking white pine cones, spreading on peanut butter, rolling them in sunflower seeds, and placing them on a mobile.  There is not a wrong way to make your feeders, and the birds love them.

Wreath Making

This is a great new December craft in which we hand pick balsam fir boughs, and attach them to a ring using our wreath making machine.  After completion of the wreath, you can make a bow, and take it home to decorate for the holidays.