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Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

May 17 - May 23

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Volunteers will clear blowdowns and brush along the wilderness section of the Border Route Trail (BRT) within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota’s Superior National Forest. The BRT is a remote, 65 mile footpath and part of the North Country National Scenic Trail which spans 4,600 miles from North Dakota to Vermont. The wilderness section covers 36 mile through the BWCA and is maintained by using hand saws and loppers to clear the 4′ x 8′ corridor as power tools are not allowed inside the BWCA. The plan is to paddle in with canoes to a base camp inside the BWCA and do daily clearing, returning to base camp each evening. However, we need a plan B in case the ice hasn’t gone out of the lakes, preventing water travel. Unlikely, but it is possible. So, we are going to plan for a backpack in to base camp, and do daily clearing and returning to base camp every evening. This means we will travel lighter, carrying backpacking meals and cooking equipment. If the ice is gone, we will paddle in with canoes. Our goal is to clear 5 or 6 miles of the trail.


Border Route Trail Association


Primitive Tent Sites


Backpacking 6 miles to basecamp (Day hiking up to 6 miles each work day)

Project Rating


Minimum Volunteer Age


Maximum Group Size


Area and Attractions

The million acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is the pre-eminent wilderness paddling area in the United States. It also features great hiking & backpacking opportunities. The landscape features almost equal amounts of water (lakes, rivers, and wetlands) and boreal forest covered land. This trip will offer an opportunity for people to experience the magic of a BWCAW paddle trip while also giving back to one of the hiking trails that traverse it. Before and after the trip we will stay at an area resort on the Gunflint Trail, one of the premier recreational areas in Minnesota. Remote, roadless, wilderness. High ridges looking down into lakes along the Minnesota/Canada border. You may see moose, wolves, black bear, loons, and other wildlife. Spring wild flowers will be starting to bloom.

Accommodations Description

The BWCAW campsites feature a wilderness toilet, fire ring, and tent pads. We will have a group kitchen area complete with full kitchen. Showers available at end of trip. Volunteers should bring their own tent, sleeping bag and pad, cup/bowl/eating utensils, and personal items. Drinking water will be filtered/purified from the lake. Volunteers will need to carry their personal gear and a portion of the food/tools/cooking gear to base camp.


Airport Pickup Provided from Duluth International Airport. Airport pickup and dropoff times will be sent to registrants when the trip is confirmed.


Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
50 Rockwood Road, Grand Marais, MN 55604 United States