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Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness – Volunteer Vacations 2021

September 12 - September 18

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Volunteers will help maintain sections of the Border Route Trail / North Country National Scenic Trail (BRT for short) that are in need of basic maintenance work. This entails using hand tools to remove blowdowns and clear brush from the trail corridor. We will be working on about a roughly 5-mile stretch of the BRT within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the worksite will be remote. The most difficult tasks will be 1) portaging on the way in/out and 2) doing the clearing work. Portaging is the act of carrying all your personal gear, some of the group gear, plus the canoes and tools over rough trails in between the lakes. This trip will entail 1 portage on the way in / out and maybe one additional portage during the daily work.



Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
2020 W. Hwy 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604 United States



Backpacking 4 miles to basecamp (Day hiking up to 4 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 a stunningly beautiful designated wilderness area located in the northeastern tip of Minnesota. It is a unique landscape that is made up of equal parts water (lakes) and land (covered by 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 job of the crew will be to clear blowdowns and brush the trail corridor for hikers to more easily follow. The crew will be walking up the Stairway Portage daily and working on a section with numerous fantastic vistas - including the Rose Lake cliffs overlook. This is one of the iconic spots of the BWCAW. Canoeing on a BWCAW lake, fishing, or hiking may be enjoyed right from the group campsite.

Accommodations Description

Volunteers will be staying in primitive tent camping sites in The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Campsites typically feature an opening in the forest with a rock shelf by the lake, a fire ring, and a wilderness toilet. The group camp will feature a tarp over the cooking area. Showers will be available at the end of the trip but people may clean off in the lake daily. Volunteers should bring their own tent, sleeping bag/sleeping pad, cup/bowl/mug/eating utensils, and personal gear. 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, MN. Airport pickup and dropoff times will be sent to registrants when the trip is confirmed.