Minnesota’s North Shore: Gunflint Trail’s Annual Biggest Blueberry Contest!

Jul 31, 2022 | events/locations, evergreen

Come to Cook County, on Minnesota’s North Shore, and enter the Gunflint Trail’s annual Biggest Blueberry Contest!

Blueberries, Raspberries and More

Where can you find blueberries, strawberries, chokecherries, pin cherries, raspberries, and thimbleberries growing wild? Cook County, Minnesota is your place! Berry picking is a fun afternoon adventure, and one of the best things to do with kids when you need to slow down for a while. Find, identify and pick wild berries — and just try to save a few for your favorite berry recipe.

June is the month for strawberries. Sweet, tiny, prolific – don’t miss out! Then comes July, with the middle two weeks typically being the best time to gather blueberries. In August, it’s time for chokecherries, pin cherries, raspberries and thimbleberries. When you’re here, just ask your hosts to point you in the right direction, then arm yourself with a pail and enjoy the sweet harvest.

Never eat anything you are unsure of. Always taste test one berry before you toss down a mouthful. Although berry picking is one of many great things to do with kids, NEVER let children pick berries unsupervised. They are more likely to make mistakes in identification and ingest berries they shouldn’t.

Blueberries

Blueberries are the forest fruit that people associate most often with canoe country, and they’re plentiful throughout the region. They like dry, well-drained, rocky soil with good sun and are often found under jack or red pine stands and in recent burns. The plants are a woody shrub, usually less than two feet tall and resemble miniature trees. Blueberries almost always grow in patches from a few individual plants to many square yards in size. If you find one plant, you’ll probably find more.

Raspberries

Next on the list for most folks is raspberries, which are also found throughout canoe country. They like disturbed soil and lots of sunshine. Recent burns and openings in the forest are likely places to look. Along portage trails and around the edge of campsites are good habitats, too.

Thimbleberries

Thimbleberry, also called salmonberry, is a close cousin to the raspberry. Look for the huge, maple-like leaves that are from 4-8 inches in diameter. The plants are almost always about three feet tall and very bushy. Earlier in the summer, thimbleberry has beautiful white flowers that are very similar to wild rose.

Strawberries

Wild strawberries are a passion for some and the best pickin’ patches are closely guarded secrets. They like well-drained soils and lots of sunshine. You’ll find them in forest openings, along portage trails and around some open campsites. The plants are very small, low to the ground and the berries like to hide beneath the leaves.

These are a few of the fruits and berries you are likely to encounter on your next trip to Cook County. There are many other berries and fruits in the forest – some edible, some not. It is always best to be sure of what you are eating and taste test even if you feel sure. Remember to be a good forest grazer and leave more than you take.

DOWNLOAD THE BLUEBERRY PICKING GUIDE

Contest

From July 22 – August 14, 2022, take any wild-picked blueberry to one of the many weigh station locations on the Gunflint Trail! The three biggest berries of the summer will receive CASH prizes and bragging rights to all of your friends. Happy picking!

Blueberries in the Gunflint Trail area tend to peak around late July or early August. Wild blueberries are easy to identify, looking much like the grocery store variety, only smaller. The plants are woody shrubs, usually less than two feet tall and resemble miniature trees. They grow best in dry, well drained, rocky soil with good sun and are often found in recent burn areas.

Blueberries will be measured by weight and must be picked fresh and not store bought. CASH prizes awarded to the 3 biggest berries. $100 to the first place winner, $50 to the second place winner, and $25 to the third place winner.

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by Artist Joanne Kollman

Gunflint Trail Minnesota Loon & Chick Giclee Archival Canvas Print Wall Art Décor for Home & Office

2021 Winners & Weights

1st Place: Chris | .41 grams weighed at Gunflint Pines Resort and Campground
2nd Place: Mark | .38 grams weighed at Chik-Wauk Nature Center
3rd Place: Chloe | .37 grams weighed at Chik-Wauk Nature Center

2022 Weigh Stations

Weigh stations will be designated by large road signs at various resorts and locations along the Gunflint Trail.

Golden Eagle Lodge

Bearskin Lodge(opens

Hungry Jack Canoe Outfitters

Nor’Wester Lodge and Outfitters

Poplar Haus

Loon Lake Lodge

Gunflint Lodge

Gunflint Pines Resort and Campground

Tuscarora Lodge and Canoe Outfitters

Voyageur Canoe Outfitters

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center

Dates

Monday, August 1st

Tuesday, August 2nd

Wednesday, August 3rd

Thursday, August 4h

Friday, August 5th

Saturday, August 6th

Sunday, August 7th

Monday, August 8th

Tuesday, August 9th

Wednesday, August 10th

Thursday, August 11th

Friday, August 12th

Saturday, August 13th

Sunday, August 14th

Gunflint Trail

Grand Marais, MN

ICYMI

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