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Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, MN – Volunteer Vacation 2024

May 12 @ 5:00 pm - May 18 @ 10:00 am

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Come explore the the million-acres of Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a stunningly beautiful designated wilderness area located in the northeastern tip of Minnesota. It is a unique landscape that is made up of lakes, rivers, and wetlands, and boreal forest. While canoeing is the dominant use of the Wilderness, there are 200 miles of hiking trails within the BWCAW including the Kekekabic and Border Route Trails – two components of the North Country National Scenic Trail. 

The Border Route Trail was damaged by the October 2021 tornado and the forest has started regenerating with thick brush and young trees. The crew will be working between the Clearwater Lake Campsite spur trail and the Clearwater-Mountain Lakes Portage and camping on Clearwater Lake to help maintain an open trail corridor. Volunteers will canoe to set up a base camp on Clearwater Lake within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, canoeing a distance of approximately 4 miles. Volunteers will perform basic maintenance on a remote 5-mile stretch of the Border Route / North Country National Scenic Trail. The work will entail using hand tools (Silky saws, crosscut saw, loppers, swing blades, and hedge trimmers) to maintain an open trail corridor. Volunteers should expect to hike up to 10 miles round trip per day with moderate elevation gain over rough, primitive trail tread.

During this trip,Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness’ average high temperature is 64°, and average low temperature is 43°.

There is no experience needed to join a Volunteer Vacation! Your expert hosts will provide detailed instruction, tool demonstrations, and project oversight throughout the week. All you need is a willing attitude and to be in good physical condition to participate in moderate physical activity for approximately 6-8 hours a day with plenty of breaks, at your own pace. Find out more about what it’s like to join a Volunteer Vacation and other frequently asked questions here.

AHS acknowledges with gratitude that this project takes place on the traditional lands of the Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ peoples past and present. We honor the land itself, the Indigenous communities who have stewarded this land for generations, their deep and sacred connection to these lands, and those who continue to steward these lands today. We offer this land acknowledgement as the first of many steps to stand as an ally and amplify Indigenous voices. We invite the American Hiking Society community to join us through continued efforts to support Indigenous communities and learn more about the history of the lands on which we live, work and recreate.

Click here for a PDF of trip details.


North Country Trail Association


Primitive Tent Sites


The 4-mile paddle by canoe into the campsite will take the first half day and last half day. Volunteers will need to carry their personal gear and a portion of the food/tools/cooking gear to base camp. Volunteers should expect to hike up to 10 miles round trip per day with moderate elevation gain over rough, primitive trail tread.

Project Rating


Minimum Volunteer Age


Maximum Group Size


Area and Attractions

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area is in the northern third of the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota. More than 1 million acres, it extends nearly 150 miles along the international boundary adjacent to Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park and is bordered on the west by Voyageurs National Park. The area contains more than 1,200 miles of canoe routes, 12 hiking trails and more than 2,000 designated campsites. The Border Route Trail features a large ridge with rocky knobs, excellent vistas, and both young and old mixed coniferous-hardwood forests. Canoeing on a BWCAW lake, fishing, or hiking may be enjoyed right from the group campsite. This Volunteer Vacation occurs in a remote location but exploring near the camp and work site is encouraged.

Accommodations Description

Volunteers will tent camp in a Boundary Waters primitive campsite with a wilderness toilet. Before paddling in and after paddling out, Volunteers will stay in a bunkhouse at a nearby Resort which will provide showers. Volunteers will need to bring their personal camping gear, bedding, towels, and toiletries.


Duluth International Airport in Duluth, Minnesota is the closest major airport. Airport pick up and drop off is available for volunteers and will be arranged upon confirmation of the trip.


Gunflint Ranger Station
2020 W. Highway 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604 United States + Google Map