Friday, November 25, 2016

Trails explore Voyageurs NP’s geography

Beaver Pond Overlook Trail
Located on Minnesota's northcentral border with Canada, Voyageurs National Park is a fairly flat region with rolling hills.

Measuring 218,054 acres in size, the water-based park boasts more than 500 islands and 655 miles of shoreline. The park's southern and eastern side sits on the mainland, but the bulk of the park is on Kabetogama Peninsula, which can be accessed only by boat. A variety of trails explore the peninsula.

Water makes up the majority of the park. Rainy Lake forms the park's northern boundary. Kabetogama Lake, on the southwestern side of the park, separates the Minnesota mainland from the peninsula. Namakan Lake is on the park's northeast side. Sand Point Lake and smaller Crane Lake below it forms the southwestern boundary.

The U.S.-Canadian border runs through three of the park’s four major lakes, all of which are popular among canoeists, kayakers and fishermen for their unspoiled beauty. A remote area, Voyageurs is surrounded by several preserve areas. Koochiching and Kabetogama state forests are on the west and southern sides and Superior National Forest on the southeast. In Canada, Sandpoint Island Provincial Park sits on the northwest side and Quetico Provincial Park to the northeast.

On land, the boreal forest stretching across Canada has taken root in the foot of topsoil that has settled over Voyageurs’ bedrock since the ice age ended about 10,000 years ago. The forest largely consists of birch and aspen, spruce and pine. Park visitors can walk through a boreal forest on the Blind Ash Bay Trail.

Thanks to climate change, elk and other native boreal forest species have moved north with neotropical birds new arrivals to the area. Whitetail deer and bald eagles are common in the park. Wildlife or signs of them can be seen on the Beaver Pond Overlook Trail.

Learn more about the park’s day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at Voyageurs National Park guidebook.