Chippewa National Forest

Chippewa National Forest is the country’s very first national forest, established east of the Mississippi River in 1908. Originally known as the Minnesota National Forest, the name was changed in 1928 to honor the original inhabitants. The forest boundary encompasses 1.6 million acres with approximately 665,000 acres managed by the USDA Forest Service. With over 3000 archeological and historic sites, Chippewa has a rich history that spans from prehistoric times to the early logging era and Civilian Conservation Corps days.
Norway Beach Information Center
Hunting
Home of the Capitol Christmas Tree
Spring, Summer, Fall Trails
Camp Rabideau
Amazing Wildlife Viewing
Lost 40
More Water Than Any US Forest
Scenic Forested Drives
Winter Trails

Norway Beach Information Center

Visitors often just stroll through the Norway Beach Information Center to enjoy the unique Civilian Conservation Corps construction, and to admire the stone fireplace. A hub of activity, the Center offers weekly summer naturalist program that range from wildflower hikes to discovering water critters, and even a loon calling contest. Outdoor related arts and crafts programs and Smokey Bear’s Birthday are not to be missed events. The Center’s gift store offers books, insect nets, and other outdoor related items.

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Hunting

Within the Chippewa National Forest you will find plenty of opportunity to sharpen hunting skills. Well-distributed timber stands provide aged forest habitat in which many game animals thrive. White-tailed deer and ruffed grouse are particularly prevelant. Bear hunters have success in the forest, as well. Whether it is big game, small game, or waterfowl you are after, there is a wide variety in Chippewa for your hunting pleasure.

Game & Fish Magazine

Home of the Capitol Christmas Tree

On November 2, amid great fanfare, an 80-foot plus white spruce left Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest on a journey to Washington D.C., to become the 2014 US Capitol Christmas Tree. The journey began at Itasca State Park where the tree received a drink of water from the headwaters of the Mississippi River via a horse-drawn wagon. Along the way, the tree caravan stopped in over 30 communities reaching over 45,000 people, young and old, proudly representing Minnesota and the natural beauty of the Chippewa National Forest.

Al Freanken, US Senator for Minnesota

Spring, Summer, Fall Trails

There is no better way to see the Chippewa National Forest than on a trail with enjoyable options for both backpacking and day hiking enthusiasts. The forest offers 26 trails totalling 298 miles. Trails range from a half-mile to a 68 mile portion of the 3,200 mile North Country Trail that traverses from New York to North Dakota. Depending on the time of year, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries can all be found along the way for the picking.

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Biking enthusiasts can enjoy peddling either 41 miles of paved bike trails that line the west side of the forest, or 43 miles of unpaved mountain bike trails on the forest’s east side. Of particular interest is the beautiful Migizi Trail. Ojibwe for “bald eagle,” this 19-mile paved trail loops through the big red pines of the original Ten Section of the Chippewa National Forest.

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Minnesota DNR

Camp Rabideau

Established in 1934, Camp Rabideau was one of 2,650 Civilian Conservation Camps establised by Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide work and skills to unemployed men scraping by during the Great Depression. Projects included surveying, building roads, bridges, trails and fire towers, tree planting and fire fighting. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places, Camp Rabideau is one of only three remaining camps being preserved. Today visitors can see and learn more about this era through interpretive displays and a self-guided one-mile trail through the camp. Hosts are available to give tours. Picnic shelter on site.

CCC documentary “Built To Last” by Prairie Public Television

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Amazing Wildlife Viewing

Bounded by three major vegetative communities; the coniferous forest (pine, spruce, and balsam fir) to the north, the hardwoods (aspen, birch, oak and maple) to the south, and the prairie to the west, Chippewa’s diverse ecosystem provides the unique opportunity to glimpse some rare and sensitive wildlife. Over 300 species make their home on the Chippewa National Forest… Birding is exceptional in all seasons, particularly the bald eagle. Over 180 nesting pairs of this magnificent bird live among the pines and lakes of the forest making it the highest breeding population of bald eagles in the lower 48 Unites States! Timberwolves, osprey, loon and great grey owl also make Chippewa their home. The secretive gray wolf and Canada lynx are also present, but a rare sighting.

Lost 40

If you seek a remote, restorative place of peace and quiet, one that bears witness to our heritage, plan to hike the easily accessible 144 acres called the “Lost Forty.” Due to an 1882 mapping error, the towering pines in this part of the forest were mapped as a body of water, and therefore untouched by loggers and developers. The trees remain today as remnants of the natural resources that drew people to the new frontiers, shaping America’s character. A one-mile self-guided trail takes you through these majestic red and white pine, some as old as 300 to 400 years, and ranging from 22 to 48 inches in diameter. Carry-in boat allows access to Coddington Lake.

More Water Than Any US Forest

Imagine a forest of half water! With 400,000 acres of open water; 1,300 lakes (including three of Minnesota’s five largest), 925 miles of streams and over 400,000 acres of wetlands. Combined, the water acreage represents half of the 1.6 million acres within the Chippewa National Forest bounday – the most of any national forest in the country! Chippewa boasts seventy species of fish, with fishery programs for walleye, muskie, lake trout, pan fish and bass. The Forest offers several canoe routes with many boat-access areas. Non-motorized boating allows visitors the opportunity to travel the route of the Anishinabe Indians and the early explorers.

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Scenic Forested Drives

Lady Slipper Scenic Byway is a 28-mile drive “over the river and through the woods” as it meanders County Road 39 through some of the most interesting areas of the Chippewa National Forest. The route features two interpretive sites – the first where the byway crosses the Mississippi River flowing from Cass Lake as a stream. The second at Pennington Bog where Minnesota’s state flower, the Showy Lady Slipper, can be viewed on full display in late June to early July.

Winter Trails

Under a blanket of snow, the Chippewa National Forest becomes a land of unexplored adventures. Over 330 miles of snowmobile trails provide snowmobilers access to 1,300 lakes, scenic woodlands, and frozen wetlands. Trails also connect to nearly 200 miles of routes surrounding the forest. Most snowmobile trails are grant-in-aid trails managed and maintained by snowmobile clubs.

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The sound of your skis across the new snow…gliding through the trees. The scent of balsam as you rush down the hill, the herringbone tracks as you scurry up… this is skiing at its best. There are over 298 miles of non-motorized crosscountry skiing and snowshoeing trails within the Chippewa National Forest.

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Minnesota DNR