Searching for the elusive Minnesota Moose? Look no further than Cook County.
Listed as the best place in the Midwest to spot a moose, Cook County is also home to many wild boreal creatures. With the Superior National Forest and million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness/BWCAW as our backyard, it’s no wonder life here can get pretty wild.
Where can I see a moose?
Moose are Minnesota’s largest animal, weighing 800-900 pounds, or about as much as four or five full-grown deer. The word “moose” is an Algonquin word meaning “twig-eater,” and indeed this mammal eats a massive amount of twigs and other browse. They have long legs and spreading hooves, which help them in marshes and deep snow.
Moose have poor eyesight but great senses of smell and hearing. They are also excellent swimmers, known to cross lakes more than a mile wide. Learn more about moose by taking the Moose-Quiz.
Moose habitat and diet
In the summertime, moose like to hang out on hot days in wetlands areas to stay cool. For the best chance of seeing one of these massive creatures, we suggest driving the Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway. The Gunflint Trail is a 57-mile long paved road that traverses through the heart of moose country.
Moose thrive in boggy lowlands where they can stay cool and have plenty of food available. Their choice edibles are a variety of plants including willow, red-osier dogwood, balsam fir and a variety of aquatic plants. In the wintertime, they’ve been known to be on the roadways licking the salt off left by the plow trucks. Regardless of the time of year you are out searching for moose, make sure to drive with caution. These four legged wonders have a tendency to hang out near the road so be sure to stay alert.
Calving Season and Population
Mating season for moose begins in October and continues through November. With any luck, calves will be born in May or June. Each calf stays with the mother for the first year until the following spring. While Cook County is one of the most pristine habitats for moose, the population is struggling. The Minnesota DNR and Forest Service are working to understand the moose and ways to help them thrive. To read more on the status of the Minnesota Moose, read this article Minnesota Moose from the Star Tribune.
Moose Routes – Take a drive through the primetime of Minnesota Moose habitat
Option A: Greenwood Loop | Total mileage: 68.8 | Approximate drive time: 2 hours
- Turn up the Gunflint Trail (Co. Rd. 12) | follow for 15.2 miles.
- Turn RIGHT onto the Greenwood Lake Road (309) | follow for 3.9 miles.
- Turn LEFT on the Shoe Lake Road (313) |follow for approximately 16.7 miles.
- Turn RIGHT onto the Arrowhead Trail | follow towards Highway 61 for 13 miles
- Turn RIGHT on Highway 61 to return to Grand Marais | 19.1 miles
Google Maps Route: https://goo.gl/maps/8KXohCKbhW92
Option B: Lima Grade Road | Total mileage: 53.3 | Approximate drive time: 1 hour
- Turn up the Gunflint Trail (County Road 12) | Follow for 16.2 miles
- Turn LEFT onto South Brule Road (FS 325) | Follow for 6 miles
- Turn RIGHT on Lima Grade Road (FS 152/315) | Follow for 3.3 miles
- Continue RIGHT on Lima Grade Road (FS 152/315) at the fork heading towards the Gunflint Trail (County Road 12). | Follow approximately 2.5 miles
- Turn RIGHT on Gunflint Trail (County Road 12) toward Grand Marais | 20.1 miles
Google Maps Route: https://goo.gl/maps/GGao9fmE4xC2
Option C: Eagle Mountain Route | Total mileage: 57.5 miles | Approximate drive time: 1.5 hours
- Turn up the Gunflint Trail (County Road 12) | Follow for 3 miles
- Turn LEFT onto Devil Track Road (County Road 8) | Follow 5.7 miles
- Turn RIGHT onto Ball Club Road (County Road 27) | Follow 5 miles
- Turn LEFT onto The Grade (FS 153) | Follow 8.6 miles
- Turn LEFT onto Caribou Trail (County Road 4) | Follow 8.7 miles
- Turn LEFT onto Highway 61 to return to Grand Marais | 16.9 miles
Google Maps Route: https://goo.gl/maps/U1nXZyaMy792
Exploring the boreal forest by boat or on foot is the best way to find moose. Try to scout one by hiking on the designated Moose Viewing Trail on the Gunflint or by exploring any number of hiking trails in the region. Head up to Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center for a chance to not only view a moose on one of the nature center’s trails but also learn about moose and other wild creatures from a master naturalist. For your best chance, paddle through the heart of moose country in Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Contact a local outfitters to get suggested routes today. Even if you don’t see a moose, you’ll enjoy scenery that cannot be beat!
Celebrating the Moose
Annually in October we celebrate the majestic moose at the Moose Madness Festival in Grand Marais. It is a must be at event chock-full of family friendly activities and critter themed games. Learn more about the event here: http://www.visitcookcounty.com/plan-your-trip/activities-by-season/fall/moose-madness-family-festival/