Winter on the Gunflint Trail

Things To Do

Poplar Creek Retreat’s unique location near the start of the Banadad Ski Trail sets it apart from other cabins on the Gunflint Trail. Cross-country skiers will particularly enjoy their stay, as the intimate trail spans 27 kilometers and connects to the Upper Gunflint Trail System. No driving is necessary – simply step out of the cabin and walk (or ski) a short distance up Poplar Creek Drive to access the trail system. Note that a Minnesota Ski Pass and BWCA day permit are required, but blank permits are available at the cabin.

Two people snowshoeing through snowy woods in the sunshine

Cross-Country Skiing on the Gunflint Trail

In addition to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing is a very enjoyable way to spend time on the Gunflint. Immediately from the backyard of the cabin, you can snowshoe down the Seppala trail and right onto Little Ollie Lake. Study the map and you will see a popular trail onto Swamp Lake in the BWCA, back onto Poplar Lake, and right to the Trail center! Just be sure you understand the ice conditions before venturing out onto any ice.

Ice Fishing on the Gunflint Trail

On the topic of ice, ice fishing it obviously a popular activity on the lakes near the Gunflint Trail. Adventurous ice fishers have been known to snowshoe to Swamp Lake in search of walleye and pike. Many trout lakes also exist in the area. Some resorts even offer guided trout excursions! If you are into ice fishing, you cannot go wrong with a long weekend at Poplar Creek Retreat.

Snowmobiling on the Gunflint Trail

Lastly, if snowmobiles are your thing, the Gunflint Trail offers some of the best snowmobiling in the entire State of Minnesota. The trails are endless and run for miles. Various trail maps can be found online. Please note that snowmobiling is not authorized on the Seppala Trail in Poplar Creek Commons. We recommend heading to Lima Grade Road where you will have access to Pat Bayle State Forest and more trails than you can travel in a weekend!


Walk from your cabin down Poplar Creek Drive and Little Ollie Road to explore beautiful trails in the area.


Snowshoe the Seppala Trail and countless others through beautiful sheets of clean snow.

Cross Country Skiing

Ski for miles starting right outside your cabin door and onto the renowned Banadad Ski Trail.

Ice Fishing

Bundle up and head to the frozen lakes of Grand Marais for a chance to catch walleye, trout, and more.


Head to town for excellent food and drink or catch a bite and have a cocktail at local establishments.


Enjoy the warmth of a campfire during the winter months for a truly unforgettable experience.

A Note on Gunflint Trail Road Conditions

While the snow season on the Gunflint Trail is among the most beautiful seasons in Minnesota, it also comes with some risk. The roads to Poplar Creek Retreat are reliably plowed, but the cabin is deep in the woods. People who venture that far up the trail without an appropriate all-wheeled drive vehicle do so at their own risk. In fact, we will go so far as to tell you not to do it. If you are not comfortable driving in potentially snowy and cold conditions, this is probably not the best time for you to visit Poplar Creek Retreat. We would encourage you, however, to enjoy some at the cabin during the summer of fall!

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