Back in 1882, Josiah A. King and his crew of landmen were doing some surveying for logging and mapping purposes in Northern Minnesota, right around the time the state was being settled. It is said that the harsh November weather (freezing rain, snow, etc) coupled with the crew living out of canvas tents for months with not much food led to a classic mix-up: a six-square mile area of forest was plotted on their map as being a swamp. Subsequently, the area was spared of loggers cutting down the majestic pine trees here that are over 350 years old.
The area is part of roughly 2% of Minnesota forest that is considered old-growth virgin forest, the others being the Boundary Waters and Itasca State Park. Here you will find towering trees up to 150 feet tall and wildlife and tranquility. It’s way up north past Bemidji and Blackduck and is a long ways to go to look at some trees. But it’s an incredible area with an intriguing history and beautiful scenery. Put it on your Minnesota bucket list.
Far off of any paved road, there’s a small parking lot with a trailhead that leads you through this area on a mile-long loop through the woods. There are interpretive signs and scenic viewpoints all along the way. The best times to visit are supposedly spring and early summer for wildflower blooming, but I went in the fall and the colors were amazing framed against the trees, standing like sentinels in a sea of yellow and orange.
While in the area: If you make it this far, consider yourself lucky to be this far off the grid and enjoy mother nature because you won’t see many others around. The Chippewa National Forest is a great place to explore and hike and enjoy nature. Fall is incredible here.