The Magnetic Rock Trail is a favorite of those who visit the Gunflint Trail. I’m not sure if it is the ability of the rock to send a compass needle whirling or the fact the rock is a dependable landmark in the ever-changing landscape that makes the trail one of the most visited on the Gunflint Trail. I have enjoyed the Magnetic Rock Trail in spring, summer, fall and winter but perhaps the most enjoyable time has been this year after the Ham Lake Fire.
The Magnetic Rock Trail is a relatively short and easy 3 mile round-trip hike that is easily accessed from the Gunflint Trail. The terrain is not overly challenging and the views it affords are spectacular, especially since the Ham Lake Fire. Fire has a way of changing the way things look and how far you can see into the woods.
New sights can be seen where the fire cleared the view. Where the trail was once canopied by towering pines a pond can be seen just a short distance off of the trail. Where birch trees previously lined the path you can now see the hills and valleys that were once obscured. Large slabs of granite are now exposed to the human eye making one wonder how vegetation could survive and thrive on such limited topsoil. The fire has freed the forest of clutter offering visitors a new look at this amazing eco-system.
The Magnetic Rock Trail is changing every day and will continue to offer a look at the changing landscape. Just days after the fire new growth could already be seen. A month after the fire blue bead lilies, fiddlehead ferns and blueberry plants were thriving. More and more species of plants will continue to emerge and grow in the burned area along the Magnetic Rock Trail.
The 60-foot magnetic rock at the end of the Magnetic Rock Trail will remain as it has since the glacial period. There it will stand for years to come for all to enjoy the phenomena of its magnetism. Its familiarity will be a constant within the ever-changing landscape of the woods and waters that embrace it.
To find the Magnetic Rock Trail from Grand Marais travel the Gunflint Trail approximately 48 miles to the trailhead located on the right hand side of the road. A picnic table and latrine were recently added to this wayside in 2006. This trail is part of the Border Route Trail and continues past the Magnetic Rock. The trail crosses Gunflint Narrows Road, a gravel road commonly known as