The small, never crowded jewel of a park sees most of its visitation in July and August. The Historic Depot offers a look in to the past as costumed Park Guides and volunteers reenact the North American fur trade period from 1785 to 1802, a time when the North West Company held its annual retreat at Grand Portage. Grand Portage is also home to a band of Ojibwe who have lived in this area since before the time of the fur trade. Visitors will find plenty to see and do at the Historic Site, while freely moving around the spacious grounds.
Depart the village and lakeside Historic Site and go inland. The historic Grand Portage trail hike promises to be a quiet, peaceful one. Seeing less than 250 people per season, Fort Charlotte at the end of the trail, is a serene wilderness getaway.
In the mood for a hike?
Climb the .5 mile Mt. Rose trail to view a breathtaking panorama of Lake Superior, Isle Royale, and the village of Grand Portage. Follow the loop trail for a circuit hike in the frontcountry.
Travel the famous 8.5 mile Grand Portage from Lake Superior to its terminus on the Pigeon River at Fort Charlotte. Follow in the footsteps of thousands of native travelers, voyageurs, fur traders, and world explorers on this ancient route into the interior. Backcountry camping permits are required to camp at Fort Charlotte.
Aspen and birch on the shore to cedar and white pine inland, the Grand Portage is a boreal adventure. The historic Grand Portage footpath preserves an important component of the largest terrestrial ecosystem in the world, the boreal forest (the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province of Minnesota). The mixed forest of evergreen and broadleaf trees divides the cold treeless tundra of the polar north and the warmer broadleaf forest to the south. Rugged hills and boggy lowlands, shear rock cliffs and sandy beaches, shallow bays and the deep Lake Superior, all come together at Grand Portage.
This extraordinary and impressive landscape was created by the different weathering rates of two types of rocks produced during Precambrian time. For nearly one billion years, stream erosion and glacial scour have removed much of the soft rock, leaving hard rock dykes as evidence of their activity. The Grand Portage and Mt. Rose trails cross the highland regions which provide panoramic views of one of lowland areas, at Grand Portage Bay.
Visit the Depot area, reconstructed in the 1970s. The site's four buildings: great hall, kitchen, canoe warehouse and a gatehouse offer a glimpse into the British company's operation at Grand Portage. The Ojibwe Village exhibit shows what life was like for the native people living near the fur post. Each exhibit is staffed by knowledgeable staff and volunteers dressed in clothing of the late 1700s. Canoe building, carpentry, bread baking, gardening, crafting baskets and carving paddles are just some of the activities you will see.
Hikers and campers can take a hike up the Grand Portage to Fort Charlotte, the site of a former post on the Pigeon River. The Pigeon River was the gateway to trading posts west of the Great Lakes. Feel the toil and drudgery that French-Canadian voyageurs experienced carrying two-90 pound or more packs up and down this challenging footpath. When you reach the Fort Charlotte site, camp underneath majestic white pine and black and white spruce for the night, then paddle or portage on your way.