East Bearskin Lake Campground is located on its namesake lake, at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota. It is a perfect spot for visitors who want the experience found in Boundary Waters and the convenience of car camping. Visitors can reserve standard or walk-in tent sites, or rent small cabins that accommodate up to five or seven people. Canoeing, kayaking and motorized boating is available on East Bearskin Lake. The facility can be conveniently accessed by vehicle. Guests are responsible for their own travel arrangements and safety, and must bring several of their own amenities.
Over a million acres in size, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness extends nearly 150 miles along the borders of the United States and Canada, containing over 1,200 miles of canoe routes, 12 hiking trails and over 2,000 designated campsites.
The two eastern bays of the lake are within the boundaries of Boundary Waters, thus the campground attracts canoe enthusiasts. Portages link to Flour Lake. Entering the wilderness area requires a special permit. Day permits for non-motorized use are available at the campground, but overnight and motor use permits must be obtained in advance. More information on the Boundary Waters region can be found here.
East Bearskin Lake features several shallow bays, making the campground and shoreline good places for wildlife watching. Moose, beavers, eagles, ducks, loons, songbirds and bears are the most common visitors. See recreation guides and maps of hiking trails and canoe routes in the national forest.
Fishing is also a huge draw for the area, with East Bearskin Lake offering great fishing for bass, walleye and lake trout. A boat ramp at the campground allows motorboats and canoes access to the lake. Back on shore, a variety of hiking, mountain biking and cross-country ski trails are nearby.
Campsites are arranged along one large loop and three smaller loops within the campground. A few sites provide a limited view of the water and all sites are within walking distance of the lake. Each campsite has an accessible fire ring with grill grates and a picnic table. Vault toilets and a solar-powered drinking water system are provided throughout the campground.
The four rental cabins sleep five or seven people, respectively. Each has a single bed, double bed and set of bunk beds, while one has an additional bed. The cabins have no running water, electricity, heating or cooking facilities. Cabin visitors must use the campground's toilet and water facilities.
Cabin campers must bring their own sleeping pads, sleeping bags, cooking gear and food. Flashlights are also recommended.
The campground and surrounding area is shaded with majestic red and white pines, balsam fir, spruce, birch and aspen trees. A thick understory offers plenty of shade and excellent privacy between campsites. The campground lies on the shore of the 643-acre East Bearskin Lake, a typical loon nesting site.
The surrounding Superior National Forest is located in northeastern Minnesota's arrowhead region and is comprised of 3 million acres. The forest spans 150 miles along the border of the United States and Canada. Visitors can find recreation opportunities year-round, including travel in the famous Boundary Waters area.
Boats, canoes and kayaks are available for rent at the neighboring Bearskin Lodge. The store also offers fishing licenses, day use permits, groceries, ice, firewood, maps and fishing guide services for sale.
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The beauty and serenity here is exponentially greater than anything I've ever experienced before. I encourage you to go and explore nature. Become reconnected to our planet.
I stayed here for two nights prior to the launch of a solo SUP trip on what can be called the East Bearskin Loop of 9 lakes and 9 portages back to the launch just outside this campground. I pulled up in late morning on a Thursday and had no trouble snagging a decent first-come spot. I think it was #9. Anyway, the spots are in the trees and very private. The whole campground has that way up north feel and you can launch your canoe, paddle board, or kayak from either the boat launch or the other end of the campground. Just a wonderful experience. But remember—you’ll be way out there a fair pace up the Gunflint, so don’t expect to have any amenities close by to purchase. Bring everything you need and just have fun!
It’s a ways out, but very nice. Off of the Gunflint Trail, down a gravel road you’ll find this peaceful campground. Very pleasant.
This where my fiance and I went camping for the first time together and have gone back every year. It's quiet and you feel secluded with the heavy tree coverage. Located about halfway up the Gunflint Trail, it's easy to get anywhere for hiking or into town for the day.
The campsite wasn't huge, but it did what we needed it to do…it allowed us to set up a tent, have a campfire and sleep! That's all you need, right?
The tent pads were very level and without any lumps or holes. The were, however, gravel type sand pads that made it very hard to pound in stakes, but fortunately, it wasn't windy so we didn't have an issue. The fire grate was clean and provided a nice campfire in the evening. Each site had a picnic table that was nice and solid. Our site, number 21, had a small path that led down to the lake. You couldn't see the lake from where we were, but it was only about 20 yards and BAM…BINGO! The lake! The bathroom (pit style enclosure with a door) was just down the path from us and we were on a loop, so it was easy for the kids to walk around a bit and stretch their legs after the long car ride. Everyone was quite and respectful after dark and remarkably, we didn't have any critters that night! Not even a mouse :)
Easy to get to from Grand Marais, and the sites were fairly private from one another. A good choice, even when it's busy season. But make sure to bring bug spray…the mosquitoes were brutal!
I had this past weekend planned as a 4-day weekend for quite some time without any actual firm plans until last Monday. This would have been a disaster had I planned on staying at a state park, but this national forest campsite had A LOT of openings and we even snagged one of the cabins for a night. This campground does not appear as though many of their sites are heavily used. The campsites that weren't close to the lake were vacant to the point that the "open" grassy areas were long and growing to seed. I would have been disappointed if I had wound up booking one of those since a weed whipper isn't something that I would ever consider having to pack.
The toilets are pit only- not the worst or the best that I have ever seen, and there are no shower facilities. There is a drinking water tap located by campsite 3, but the two of us were feeling slightly ill a few hours after brushing our teeth and swishing with it.
Before you hit the campground you will drive past the Bearskin Lodge. This lodge manages the campground- but don't feel like you need to stop here to check in if you know the specifics about your reservation- your name is already on the campsite post. The staff there are friendly and they have a few food items in addition to camping basics such as firewood and ice available to purchase. Their lattes were surprisingly good for being in the middle of nowhere and the homemade ice cream sandwich was perfect on a hot day. Canoes and kayaks are also available to rent. There isn't a restaurant onsite- I would recommend going to the Loon Lake lodge for their all-you-care-to-eat breakfast from 8-9:30 if you are heading up the Gunflint Trail in the morning. This price is an unbelievable bargain for the quality of food. Ok back to the campground!
The first night we stayed at campsite #5. It has a nice little path to a private little area on the lake. This site was relatively private and had plenty of room to park 1-2 vehicles. The site was flat and required no extra effort to haul your stuff from your vehicle to where you wanted to set up your campsite. Several sites- #6 and whatever is directly across from #5 require climbing up a hill from your car to the actual site. This would be quite a pain if it had been raining. The firepit was nice enough with a grill that you could flip on or off.
For our final night we stayed at the Tamarack cabin. If I remember correctly up to 7 people could sleep here with 2 bunk beds and two pads also provided in the loft. There is also an awesome screen porch with basic plastic chairs on the front that I wish that I had more time to sit in. You don't get a key, but the door is lockable from the inside. I think that it would be kind of cramped if it were filled to capacity on a rainy day. I would also probably be a sleepless mess if I had to share this cabin with more than just my husband on account of how creaky the bunk bed and the floors could be.
The lake is pretty nice for swimming- the lake access point is pretty clear of weeds and you are able to walk out a bit before it gets too deep for an adult. The parking lot was pretty full for a Friday at mid-day without seeing anyone around, so it was nice to have the lake "to ourselves" for a quick swim/float.
Overall I was very pleased with the experience that we were able to obtain considering that we put off making reservations and had never heard of this campground before.
The camper cabins at East Bearskin Lake Campground in Superior National Forest are the ideal way to take advantage of northern Minnesota's wilderness. The camper cabins include a picnic style table inside along with bunk bed sleeping areas. Foam sleeping pads are provided, but you're responsible for bringing your own linens. There is no heat or electricity in the cabins, but the structures are sturdy and provide shelter from wind, rain and snow. Each campsite has an outdoor picnic table and fire ring. There are four camper cabins and they can be reserved through the recreation.gov website. They are just under $70/night. There is plenty of space between cabins as well as other campsites to give you the feel of truly being in the middle of nowhere. We were surrounded by pine trees and had a trail located in our campsite that led to East Bearskin Lake. Keep in mind, it's Minnesota and there was still some snow on the ground and ice on the lakes at the end of May. Pit toilets were just a short walk down the road as was access to potable water.
We saw a moose and had a fox visit our campsite while we were there. We fell asleep to the sound of loons every night. This is also black bear country, so it's important to be bear aware; make sure you store food and water properly and bring bear spray while out hiking. We tried our hand at trout fishing with little luck, but it was still fairly cold, and so not much was biting.
We hiked the Caribou Rock Trail and hikers are required to fill out a hiking log slip before heading out. The 2 mile trail was moderate with a decent incline. Once at the top of the overlook, you can see East Bearskin Lake. There are several lodges throughout Superior National Forest where you can obtain fishing licenses and rent boats.
Grand Marais, MN is only about 45 minutes away from East Bearskin Lake. It's a cool, quaint little town located right along Lake Superior. There's a handful of good restaurants, specifically The Angry Trout, which serves up fresh lake trout out of Superior. The Java Moose has great coffee and Lake Superior Trading Post carries lots of outdoor gear and souvenirs.
We liked it so much, we went back 4 months later in September, and stayed again in the same camper cabin. For a true taste of the North Woods, East Bearskin is hard to beat.
This campground is beautiful. The sites are shady and close to the lake. The facility is clean and the sites are level.
Beautiful camp ground definitely should visit!
It is not Lake Superior but it definitely is charming and the sites are well shaded.