Okontoe’s section of the Gunflint Trial is LOADED with fun things to do. Many of these are within 5 miles of us!
If you have just an hour or two and are looking for something to do away from camp but close by, we have some great suggestions for you:
[NOTE: Hours at the local lodges can vary greatly depending on available staffing and the season. Be sure to check their websites for hours before heading over.]
Get Coffee & Cardamom Rolls at Loons Nest Coffee
2.4 miles • 5.5-minute drive • Loons Nest’s website • Gunflint Trail
Loons Nest Coffee is a family-owned coffee shop that’s completing its third season of business in 2023.
Just a 5-minute drive down the Gunflint Trail, Loons Nest is known for their full coffee menu and their delicious homemade cardamom rolls. They also serve tomato basil soup and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
Everyone is thrilled to have a coffee shop on the Gunflint Trail…especially this close to Okontoe!
GET THERE: Take a left on the Gunflint out of Okontoe’s driveway. You’ll see Loons Nest on your left just before Trail Center.
Eat a Meal or a Malt at Trail Center
2.6 miles • 6-minute drive • Trail Center website • Gunflint Trail
Locally-owned Trail Center is an Okontoe favorite. It’s also a fav of lots of the locals and guests from other lodges on the Gunflint. So on summer and holiday weekends either go during off-peak hours or expect to wait a while to sit down!
The restaurant is known for its eclectic decor and delicious food—including old-fashioned malts. They offer a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
If you’re caught with a low gas tank while at Okontoe, Trail Center also has a gas pump. Prices are higher than in town because of its remoteness, FYI.
GET THERE: Take a left on the Gunflint out of Okontoe’s driveway. You’ll see Trail Center on your left just after Loons Nest.
Grab a Take-and-Bake Pizza from Bearskin Lodge
2.7 miles • 9-minute drive • Bearskin website • E Bearskin Road
Bearskin is a family-owned local lodge and outfitter that offers a few eats to their guests and the public.
If you’re staying in one of Okontoe’s cabins or in an RV that has an oven, consider picking up one of their made-to-order take-and-bake pizzas.
They also sell fresh pies and ice cream sandwiches made with their own home-baked chocolate chip cookies.
GET THERE: Take a right on the Gunflint out of Okontoe’s driveway and then a left on the E Bearskin Road. Follow the signs.
Hike the Honeymoon Bluff Trail
3.1 miles • 11-minute drive • Clearwater Road
Honeymoon Bluff is arguably the Gunflint Trail’s most famous hike—and for good reason. It’s short (just 1/2 mile up and back, though very steep!) and the view overlooking Hungry Jack Lake is stunning.
It’s especially popular at sunset but is gorgeous all year round and any time of day.
(There are steep drop-offs, so keep young children in-hand and dogs on-leash.)
GET THERE: Take a left on the Gunflint out of Okontoe’s driveway, then a quick right on the Clearwater Road. You’ll see a sign for the trailhead on the left across from Flour Lake.
Eat at Poplar Haus
4.1 miles • 9-minute drive • Poplar Haus website • Gunflint Trail
Family-owned Poplar Haus offers a full menu for dinner and some lunches. Their restaurant has a completely different atmosphere than Trail Center if you’re looking for not-quite-so-rustic-and-eclectic.
They have a large deck overlooking Poplar Lake that’s just beautiful! They take reservations—also a nice feature.
GET THERE: Take a left on the Gunflint out of Okontoe’s driveway. The restaurant will be on your left 1.5 miles past Trail Center.
Hike Caribou Rock Trail
4.5ish miles • 13-minute drive • Hungry Jack Road
While Honeymoon is known for its beautiful sunsets, Caribou Rock is known for its sunrises—if you choose to get up that early!
The hike to the Caribou Rock overlook of West Bearskin Lake is just 1/4 mile from the trailhead if you want short-and-sweet. It’s well worth it!
If you’re up for a challenge you can hike all the way to Stairway Portage/Rose Falls (more on that below). It’s about 7 miles out-and-back with plenty of hills.
GET THERE: Go left on the Gunflint out of Okontoe’s driveway, than a right on the Hungry Jack Road a couple miles down (just before Trail Center). Stay to the left when the road Ys. You’ll see the trailhead sign on your left with a small parking area on your right.
Eat Pizza at White Pine Lodge
4.5 miles • 10-minute drive • White Pine website • Gunflint Trail
Family-owned White Pine Lodge (formerly Big Bear Lodge) offers homemade pizzas and root beer floats. You’ll need reservations!
If you have a cabin or RV and oven at camp, you can order one of their pizzas for take-and-bake too.
GET THERE: Take a left on the Gunflint out of Okontoe’s driveway. You’ll pass Trail Center and Nor’wester and then will take a left on Northwoods Loop.
Eat at Hungry Jack Lodge
4.7 miles • 13-minute drive • Hungry Jack website • Hungry Jack Road
Family-owned Hungry Jack Lodge is open for lunch and dinner seasonally. They offer a full menu at their historic lodge including pizzas.
While you’re there consider renting a pontoon boat to spend a few hours on beautiful Hungry Jack Lake with the whole family.
GET THERE: Take a left on the Gunflint out of Okontoe’s driveway, drive a couple miles and take a right on the Hungry Jack Road (just before Trail Center). Keep to the left of the Y and follow the signs to the Lodge.
Eat Breakfast at Clearwater Lodge
4.9 miles • 15-minute drive • Clearwater Lodge website • Clearwater Road
Clearwater Historic Lodge and Canoe Outfitters is the original lodge on the Gunflint, founded in 1926, and it’s still family-owned. It’s worth a drive down just to see it and its location on Clearwater Lake!
They offer a Chef’s Choice breakfast by reservation in the mornings and also fresh-baked goods for pre-order or sale.
GET THERE: Take a left on the Gunflint out of Okontoe’s driveway and a quick right on the Clearwater Road. Follow it almost to the end (it seems like forever but is just 5 miles!) and look for the signs.
Canoe to Stairway Portage/Rose Falls
5 miles • 15-minute drive • Hungry Jack Road
This is a premier day canoe trip on the mid-Gunflint Trail. It starts at the parking area for BWCAW Entry Point 60 going into Duncan Lake.
We have a separate blog post all about this fabulous day trip, so take a look at that for all the details.
Our family has done this trip countless times over the years. We never get tired of bringing people there. It’s always fun for folks to actually get to canoe in the Boundary Waters even if they’re not doing an overnighter.
GET THERE: Take a left on the Gunflint out of Okontoe’s driveway and a right on the Hungry Jack Road, a couple miles down. Stay to the left at the Y and keep going past the driveway for Hungry Jack Lodge. The parking area will be on your left shortly after.
Visit Local Gift Shops
Most of the nearby lodges have a fun gift shop to browse through. Some are bigger than others, some also carry limited groceries.
These lodges are all within 5 miles of Okontoe:
- Trail Center Lodge (Gunflint Trail)
- Bearskin Lodge (E Bearskin Road)
- Nor’wester Lodge (Gunflint Trail)
- Golden Eagle Lodge (Clearwater Road)
- White Pine Lodge (Gunflint Trail)
- Hungry Jack Lodge (Hungry Jack Road)
- Clearwater Lodge (Clearwater Road)
Plan Your Okontoe Stay
Whether you love spur-of-the-moment activities or like to plan ahead, these nearby options will keep you busy for more than one Okontoe stay!
There’s so much more too—both in our area and along your trip up or back.
See our Local Things to Do blog archive for ideas.
(Article and photos by Sharon Brodin)