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U.S. Forest Service

Eastern Region Viewing Area


Bicknell's geranium. Bicknell's geranium (Geranium bicknellii).  Photo by Melissa Grover, Superior National Forest.

Wood lily. Wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum).  Photo by Melissa Grover, Superior National Forest.

Fireweed. Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium).  Photo by Jack Greenlee, Superior National Forest.

View of landscape from Magnetic Rock Trail. View of landscape from Magnetic Rock Trail. Photo by Jack Greenlee, Superior National Forest.

Magnetic Rock

Forest: Superior National Forest

District: Gunflint Ranger District

Description: The Magnetic Rock Trail passes through ancient bedrock outcrops of the Canadian Shield on the way to Magnetic Rock. Magnetic Rock is a 60 foot rock with strong magnetic attraction, so be sure to bring your compass to test the magnetism. In 1999, the conifer-hardwood forest along the trail a violent windstorm blew down many trees. In 2007, the Ham Lake fire burned through the trail. Currently, the trail offers great views of the surrounding landscape as well as an abundance of wildflowers typical of rocky shallow soils. Many jack pine (Pinus banksiana) and paper birch (Betula papyrifera) have sprouted since the fire, and if you are lucky you may see a moose during your outing!

Wildflower Viewing Information: You can find different wildflowers blooming the entire summer along the Magnetic Rock Trail. Early in the summer is the best time to see Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), bluebead lily (Clintonia borealis), wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia), Juneberry (Amelanchier sp.), pincherry (Prunus pensylvanica), and pale corydalis (Corydalis sempervirens). Although many of the reindeer lichens (Cladina sp.) burned off in 2007, you can still find patches of these lichens on bedrock exposures. In mid-summer, wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum) and Bicknells’ geranium (Geranium bicknellii) are visible along the trail. These two flowers were dormant until the Ham Lake Fire. Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), and Lindley’s aster (Symphotrichum ciliolatum) bloom along the trail in the late summer. The 2007, wildfire stimulated growth in the many blueberry bushes along the trail. Mid-July to mid-August is a great time to look for ripe berries on lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium).

Safety First: Always bring drinking water and a snack. The hiking trail can be uneven with loose gravel, so sturdy hiking boots are helpful. Expect plenty of biting insects in June, July, and August. The Forest Service keeps the trail well-maintained to Magnetic Rock. It connects with the Gunflint Lake trails. Bring a trail map if you expect to continue on past Magnetic Rock.

Directions: Grand Marais is 115 miles northeast of Duluth, Minnesota on State Highway 61. From Grand Marais, go up the Gunflint Trail (Cook County 12) approximately 45 miles to the Magnetic Rock Trail head, which is on the east side of the highway.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Superior National Forest, Gunflint Ranger District. For more information contact the Gunflint Ranger District at (218) 387-1750.

Closest Town: Grand Marais, Minnesota.