Sullivan Bay Trail

Voyageurs National Park - Sullivan Bay Trail

Voyageurs, so-named for the intrepid French-Canadian trappers of old, is a largely undeveloped and inaccessible National Park in the far northern reaches of Minnesota. A patchwork of water and rock, the landscape remains nearly as wild and rugged today as it was for those who passed through some 300-years ago. At 218,200-acres, Voyageurs is larger than Zion and Arches National Parks combined…yet barely a dozen miles of road provide access to its four main entry points…Rainy River, Kabetogama Lake, Ash River, or Crane Lake. To explore the park beyond you’ll have to do as the early voyageurs did, and go by water. Arriving as we did in early-October, this meant the great interior would have to wait to be explored on another visit. Even so, on our brief two-days at the park, we had been able to enjoy some truly beautiful places made all the more stunning by a fortuitously-late peaking of the foliage. This hike would be our grand-finale of sorts. Heading back to the Ash River portion of the park our eye was set on the Sullivan Bay Trail…a shorty which, by all accounts, would offer up scenery far outclassing its diminutive length. It sounded like the perfect hike with which to wrap up our inaugural visit to Voyageurs National Park. The trailhead for the Sullivan Bay Trail is easy to miss if you’re not watching out for it. All there is to denote it is a small sign attached to an orange metal gate a short distance back from the main road. It’s located about a mile south of the Ash River Visitor Center on the east side of the park road. There’s not a ton of room to park here, so if you do just make sure not to block the aforementioned gate. The route from here is a simple and straightforward one. Simply follow the forest track beyond the gate for ¾-mile until you run out of dry ground. Most of the way is fairly level, though there are some minor elevation the nearer the trail gets to the lake. The payoff for this easy hike is perhaps the most quintessentially Voyageurs-esque viewpoint of any trail on the mainland. Standing atop an open rock bluff the narrow arm of Sullivan Bay stretches away into the distance. Mixed hardwood and conifer forests line the shores. If you’re lucky the call of the loon or splash of a nearby otter may compliment the serene vista. A simple fire pit and picnic table sit just back from the shore. What a wonderful place this must be to enjoy a Northwoods evening. It was absolutely the perfect spot from which we could enjoy a final few minutes at Voyageurs National Park. Overall this trail would be perfect for a family outing, or for anyone visiting the park. The effort-to-scenic-payoff ratio is unreal. Just be careful with young ones at the viewpoint, it’s a bit of a drop to the lake. Needless to say I can’t recommend this hike enough and it should be a must for anyone making a trip to Voyageurs. With that said it’s my privilege to share with you our quick hike of the Sullivan Bay Trail at Voyageurs National Park…as always I hope you ENJOY!! 

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:  48.42525, -92.84546

Route Type: Out-and-back        Difficulty: EASY (Petzoldt Rating: 1.60 )

Hike Length:  1.3 miles                Hike Duration:  1:00

Trailhead Temp:  60'F                Trail Traffic: NONE!

Min. Elevation:  1,150'                  Max. Elevation:  1,200'

Total Vertical Gain:  150'            Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  115'

Trails Used (blaze color): Sullivan Bay Trail (unblazed)


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