Minnesota Map

Edge of the Wilderness

Basics
Length:
47 miles (75 km)
Time:
Three hours to visit the entire Byway

Description

Celebrate northern hospitality, hometown pride, and the treasures of our natural heritage. Minnesota, midway between America's East and West Coast, is the home to 12,000 lakes. It is filled with beautiful country and all the pleasures of the four seasons. The Edge of the Wilderness is the rustic slice of this great state, with more than 1,000 lakes and one mighty river, the Mississippi, nearby, all in landscapes of remarkable natural beauty. There are still more trees than people here -- offering a classic northwoods seclusion.

The Edge begins in Grand Rapids with meadows and lakes, then winds through mixed hardwoods and stands of conifers and aspens in the Chippewa National Forest. Rounding bends and cresting hills, you will find breathtaking views that, during the fall, are ablaze with the brilliant red of sugar maples, the glowing gold of aspen and birch, and the deep bronze of oak.

Points of Interest

Points of Interest Along The Way

Bigfork (MN)

The first resident of Bigfork had the makings of legend, even in his own time. Damase "Uncle Tom" Neveaux arrived here in approximately 1887. Known for his hospitality, Neveaux was affectionately dubbed "uncle." The French name Damase translates to Tom. Uncle Tom wanted to make his guests comfortable for dinner, so he called all his meat dishes "chicken." In truth, most of the meals were made of whatever local game he could capture, minus the fur or feather.

Like most small towns in the region, the logging industry drew people and businesses to support the loggers, mills and the railroad. Log harvesting remains important today as do jobs supporting outdoor recreation and tourism.

Birch Stand at Pughole Lake (MN)

From the breath of dawn through the blaze of dusk, you'll encounter a spectacular sunrise or sunset at the Birch Stand at Pughole Lake. From the silent flutter of butterflies to the squeal of wood ducks, from the graceful turn of deer to the busy work of raccoons and beavers, this place of peace is also bustling.

Mother Nature paints a fabulous picture here - from the crisp greens of spring and summer to the brilliant golds of fall and the frozen whites of winter.

Black Spruce/Tamarack Bog Habitat (MN)

As you drive by, you are traveling through time. Thespruce/tamarack bog on either side of Highway 38 began forming here 16,000 years ago when the last of four glaciers covered this part of Minnesota. A bog is wet, spongy ground, often located near alake. Bogs are poorly drained areas where water naturally filtersback into the earth. This purifies the ground water supply. Also inbogs, moss and acid-tolerant plants thrive, such as the two typesof needle-bearing trees seen here - the spruce and tamarack. Spruce and tamarack (also known as eastern larch) provide valuable wood products while gardeners everywhere rely on peat and moss. This bog is one of the largest and more mature bogs along Highway 38. We encourage you to look throughout your drive on the Edge for other examples of bogs.

Chippewa National Forest (MN)

Established in 1908, the Chippewa National Forest was the first east of the Mississippi River. The forest encompasses 1.6 million acres of forest and lakes. In fact, there are over 1,300 lakes in the Chippewa National Forest. Wildlife is abundant and so are opportunities for finding them. Take time to explore this beautiful area and enjoy the many outdoor activities that are available on the forest. It may also be helpful to know about some of the places to look for in the Chippewa National Forest. Check the Natural Qualities of the Chippewa National Forest for a list of places to explore.

Chippewa National Forest Ranger Station (MN)

Native red pine logs from the Cut Foot Sioux Lake area and labor from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) were the building blocks for the Marcell Ranger Station and its cluster of log buildings designed for lodging and maintenance services. Here in the Chippewa National Forest, crews from the Inger and Day Lake CCC Camps constructed six Rustic Style buildings. Five remain today and the entire administrative site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Directions

Located near Marcell at mile 28.7 on the byway.

Day Lake CCC Camp (MN)

An important chapter of American history took place here. At theheight of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Rooseveltformed the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to provide jobs and torestore the environment.

Investigate the remnants of the Day Lake CCC Camp on both sidesof the byway. On the west side are the remains of a concreteshower. East of the highway and up hill, discover an outdoor stonestairway and a chimney-remnants of the Camp Mess Hall. See how manyold camp foundations and sites you can find.

Also located here is the US Forest Service Suomi HillsRecreation Area with 10 square miles of recreation. Suomi is theFinnish word for Finland. Scandinavians joined many WesternEuropean immigrants in creating a new life on the Edge.

Effie (MN)

Whether you're beginning or ending your journey in Effie, notice the difference from the rest of the Byway. This is farming country where settlers tended to become permanent residents, far more so than other places on the Edge. A post office was established here in 1903 and the town is now named for the first postmaster's daughter.

Forest History Center (MN)

In a place where the forest has been a central part of life, adiscovery center about this ecosystem seems matter-of-fact. TheForest History Center of Grand Rapids offers visitors a glimpse ofthe past in logging camps. All the tools and jobs that make up alumbering camp are recreated in great detail. Learn more about thecamp blacksmith, saw filer, clerk, and even the good. The centeralso features a 100 foot tall fire tower to survey the forestaround Grand Rapids. Visitors are encouraged to spend an afternoonand even bring a picnic to enjoy in the picnic area.

Grand Rapids (MN)

Grand Rapids, named for its strong rapids on the mighty Mississippi, began as a small group of rustic log buildings. Then steamboats came up the river in the late 1800s, cruising for the regions vast pine resources. By 1902, civic leaders harnessed the rapids by constructing a dam for a paper mill. Decades later, Grand Rapids became and remains a starting point for vacations to The Edge of the Wilderness. As you travel the Byway, you can tell that the forests, lakes and accompanying recreational opportunities are perfect for a prosperous tourism industry.

Gut and Liver Line (MN)

With a name like Gut and Liver, you just know there has to be a story behind it. Located north of Marcell, make a stop here to view the remnants of old lumbering operations. Locals share several possible tales about this line on the Minneapolis and Rainy River Railroad. Be prepared - each story is worse than the one before. Perhaps it is better to just not know.

Directions

Watch for a county road on the east side of the byway at mile 30.5. The site is located several hundred feet to the east of the byway on the south side of the gravel road now called Jack the Horse Road.

Details

Length:
47 miles (75 km)
Time:
Three hours to visit the entire Byway
Main Roads:
MN-38 N
Additional Details:
Also known as Northwoods Highway

Map + Directions

Customizable Directions


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