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Get up close and personal with 300-year-old virgin pine trees. A day of solitude and silence in the #Chippewa National Forest. Learn about the interesting history of Minnesota's north woods.
A little known section of the Chippewa National Forest called “The Lost Forty" leads day hikers through some of the last remaining virgin red and white pine trees in Minnesota. These trees are 300-400 years old and measure between 22 and 48 inches in diameter. But even more incredible than the age and size of the trees is their back story. In 1882, land surveyors accidentally mapped this section of forest as nearby Coddington Lake. Therefore, the trees went untouched by loggers moving through the area. Today, they are a living reminder of what the north woods used to look like in its virgin state.
The largest nearby city is Bemidji, about an hour southwest. This is a vibrant tourist town that offers a nice variety of restaurants, bars, lodging and recreational opportunities. It's also the home of Paul Bunyan and Babe, as denoted by their massive statues welcoming visitors into town. Getting to the The Lost Forty from Bemidji involves navigating a series of rural highways. Print directions ahead of time because cell phone reception is not guaranteed as the roads get increasingly remote. When in doubt, simply follow the ‘Point of Interest’ signs that begin popping up as you enter the Chippewa National Forest.
While the distance of this hike is short, its impact is big: almost immediately upon entering the woods, you will be surrounded by staggeringly massive creatures from the old world. Everything about these trees looks ancient – from their thick, craggy bark to their massive limbs high overhead. As if standing beside mountains or the ocean, that familiar feeling of being very small in a very big and wild world will start to set in.
Allow plenty of time to stop, stare and possibly even hug a tree or two. These things simply don't grow in the wild (or city) anymore.
Copy credit to: Robin Pfeifer