Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center is the first and only museum that represents the history, culture, and ecology of the Gunflint Trail.
Why the Gunflint Trail?
The Gunflint Trail and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are rich with history. The Chik-Wauk Museum strives to gather this rich history into a living museum and nature center. The museum’s goal is to help visitors understand what life was like on the Gunflint Trail. As well as what life is like for the residents living on the Gunflint Trail today.
In the front room of the museum, you will find information on the local ecology. There are displays of animals and plants that are native to the area. In the back, you will find a theater area where the stories of the Gunflint Trail residents are told. Spend some time looking at the photos surrounding the theater. These are the faces of the Gunflint Trail residents whose families paved the way for settlement on the Gunflint Trail. Other sections feature artifacts showing what life was like for the earliest settlers, and a rotating display features a different topic each year.
The Chik-Wauk Museum building itself is an iconic piece of Gunflint Trail history. It was once home to the Chik-Wauk Lodge on Saganaga Lake. Originally built in 1932 by Ed Nunstedt as a fishing resort, it was a popular retreat. Ed sold the building and the land to the U.S. Forest Service in 1978. During its heyday, the resort had 11 cabins on its property. At some point, the cabins were dismantled and auctioned off. Then, this left only the main lodge building on the site. The lodge sat empty for several years between the closure of the Chik-Wauk Lodge and the opening of the Chik-Wauk Museum in 2010. In 2007, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Because of that, any modifications made to accommodate the museum were done in a way that preserved the building’s historic nature.
Nature Center and Grounds
Chik-Wauk’s 50-acre grounds include a series of nature trails that families can explore and learn about the local ecology. The Nature Center building was built in 2016 and is a treasure trove of natural resources, activities, and ideas for your hike around the museum grounds. A boathouse constructed by the North House Folk School has the canoes of actual Gunflint Trail residents on display.
Activities and Events
Chik-Wauk hosts guest speakers and activities covering a variety of topics throughout the summer months. There are also several fun games and activities on the grounds that help children experience a little bit about life on the Gunflint Trail throughout the centuries as part of Chik-Wauk’s family-based Naturalist Program.
This is a family-friendly museum and nature center that will keep adults and children entertained for hours. We do recommend you plan to spend at least 3 hours here in order to be able to really enjoy learning the history of the area and exploring the network of trails. Check out the Chik-Wauk Museum Website for more information, hours and dates of operation, and a schedule of events including guest speakers. You can also connect with the Chik-Wauk Museum on Facebook. The Chik-Wauk Museum operates in partnership with The Gunflint Trail Historical Society.