A woman and two men with backpacks getting ready to hike the Border Route Trail.
I can’t believe I’m really about to hike the Border Route Trail! Last June, I hiked the 315-mile (507-km) Superior Hiking Trail (SHT), which is also part of the North Country Trail. It ends in the middle of the woods near the Canadian border. Right where it ends, the 65-mile (105-km) Border Route Trail begins, winding through the famous Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

I “met” an artistic mapmaker online last summer, during my SHT hike; he created a cool map of the trail. The guy, Keith Myrmel, invited me to hike the Border Route Trail (BRT) with him and a friend, Tom Lakner, so here we are.

Our trek on the Border Route Trail begins

We met at the western terminus today to drop my car, then we dropped Keith’s at the home of some acquaintances of Tom in Grand Marais. The man shuttled us to the eastern terminus. We headed in around 5:25. 

Due to our late start — it took me nine hours to reach the western terminus from my home — we just planned to hike to the first campsite at Portage Brook, about five miles (8 km) in. Notes on the BRT website called it “buggy.” Our shuttler also noted this was an exceptionally mosquitoey season. Lovely.

So the BRT is known to be little-used and little-maintained. A true wilderness experience. Those are accurate descriptors. The three of us Backpacker standing on a rocky outcrop enjoying a sweeping view of woodlands on the Border Route Trail.tromped, slashed, ducked and leapt along the overgrown trail, which featured several steep climbs and some sweet views.

Bad bugs

The bugs were bad — both mosquitoes and ticks — and we just wanted to reach our campsite. Took almost three hours to get here, and what a disappointment! There was no tent pad, so I’m camped near a dilapidated picnic table and a puddle of mud. And in tall grass. The guys had a hard time finding good spots for their hammocks.

I’d lugged along a highly rated mosquito repellent device, but it did nothing. Sigh. We are near a swampy area, so hopefully tomorrow’s site will be better.


BRT/MN NCT miles today: 4.9 (7.9 km)
Total BRT miles: 4.9 (7.9 km)
MN NCT miles to date: 325.6 (524 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 612 (985 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 3,988 (6, 418 km)


©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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