Where are the Moose on the Gunflint Trail?
After “Is this where I check in?” the second most common question we get here at Clearwater Lodge is “Where can we find moose?” It makes sense as Northeastern Minnesota is one of the few places in the Midwest to find the largest member of the deer family; it also helps that a moose is featured on the Gunflint Trail logo on the Grand Marais water tower. While at the end of the day it is impossible to guarantee a moose sighting there are some things you can do to increase your chances.
Although it is a much better experience to see a moose from your canoe in its element you will increase your odds greatly by remaining in your vehicle as driving around will increase the area you can cover. Most moose will sense you before you even know it is there if you are on foot which is why we think the “Moose Viewing Hiking Trail” is so funny. Just driving up the Gunflint Trail you stand a pretty good chance of seeing a moose if you keep your eyes on the many ponds and swamps along the way. The wetlands along the scenic byway are by far the most common spots to see moose and wildlife in general while in the area.
During the heat of the summer when there is frequent traffic along the paved Gunflint Trail the moose will move to some of the quieter off the beaten path areas. Getting your vehicle off the pavement and onto some of the dirt back county roads is a great tactic during the busier times to still have a good chance of seeing a moose. Two dirt roads off the Gunflint Trail in particular come to mind when people ask where the moose are at: The Lima Mountain Grade and The Old Gunflint Trail (Cook County 92). These seldom visited dirt back roads all have a great combination of wetlands and younger growth forest making them your best bet.
Starting your search early in the morning or late in the evening is one last method you can use to increase your chances. Though they do tend to be more active during these times of day the real reason this will help is that there will be fewer vehicles on the road scaring them back into the woods.
Again, there is not one place one place you can go to always see one but hopefully we have given you a bit of helpful info to get you started in finding the increasingly elusive Alces alces.