It doesn't get any wilder than this! Vermillion Gorge on the west end of Crane Lake is ideal for Minnesota hiking, picnics, and fishing trips. There are two different routes to choose from, one requires a boat. Walking from the village of Crane Lake go north past the Voyageurs National Park office, where the road Y's stay left, then turn left again into a parking area. The trail starts on the northwest corner of the clearing. The three-mile long trail is carpeted in lush emerald green moss and meanders up to a breathtaking overlook of a natural river gorge where white water rushes through. A picnic lunch would be a nice touch or pack a beverage to enjoy while exploring your surroundings. A quicker way to the river gorge is by boat. Tie up at the dock on the south (left) side and walk the trail up to the gorge area.
Vermillion Gorge Trail Description:
At a leisurely pace, this 3-mile trail can easily be hiked in 3 hours. The last portion of the trail parallels the Vermillion River Gorge - a rugged landscape of sheer granite cliffs and rock outcrops.
From Crane Lake to Vermillion River the hiking trail is graveled. Boardwalks cross wet areas. Near the crest of the first hill, the Voyageur's Snowmobile trail branches to the left. Keep right on the gravel trail.
At the river, the trail takes a sharp turn upstream. Here the hiking trail narrows and the surface changes from gravel to native material. This is the steepest part of the trail and as you climb, notice the change in vegetation. The aspen/birch forest with its dense understory gives way to an open, parklike grove of red pine.
From atop the red pine knoll you can see the Vermillion River entering Crane Lake, completing its 38 mile journey from Lake Vermillion.
As you descend from the red pine knoll, you will approach the river and the mouth of the gorge. The trail surface changes to wood chips here.
Warning: This section of the trail has steep cliffs nearby. Hikers with small children should keep them in hand.