Things To Do & See
Did you know?
On the 28 mile drive along the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway you can see:
- State Flower; Showy Lady Slipper (blooms late June, early July)
- State Bird: Loon (May-October)
- State Grain: Wild Rice (pick in September)
- State Fish: Walleye (catch one, eat one!)
- State Mushroom: Morel (pick May-August)
- State Tree: Norway Pine (everywhere along the byway)
Whether you enjoy riding your bike on paved trails, dirt trails or quiet country roads you’ll find more than 300 miles of trails on and near the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway. Just off the southern end of the byway is the paved Migizi Bike Trail, sometimes spelled Mi-Ge-Zi, which is the Ojibwe word for eagle. You’re sure to see one or more eagles while visiting the byway, as the Chippewa National Forest has the largest population of breeding Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states. The trail, great for both biking and rollerblading, circles around three sides of Pike Bay Lake. A 1.5 mile spur links the trail to the Norway Beach Recreation Area, adjacent to Cass Lake. This 7-mile stretch of trail along Pike Bay takes you past beautiful Red and White Pine forests that are especially scenic. The Migizi Trail is a 14-mile circle route around Pike Bay, with other “links” going in all directions. One link is to the Heartland Bike Trail, leading you into the City of Cass Lake. This trail is paved and stretches 34 miles from Walker to Park Rapids. Another takes you to the Paul Bunyan Trail, linking Bemidji, Cass Lake and Brainerd. There is a trailhead parking area near the bridge on highway 2, across from the new Cass Lake Welcome Center, where brochures, maps and friendly tourist guides can answer questions or help you plan your ride.
In addition to the many area resorts that offer overnight camping accommodations, the Chippewa National Forest offers many scenic campsites near the byway. Near the southern end of the byway you’ll discover the Norway Beach Recreation Area, where there are 170 campsites in four campgrounds, including sites that can be reserved and ones with electric hook-ups. There are also 14 campsites at Knutson Dam and 24 at the Webster Lake Campground; both are located just off of the byway.
Canoeing & Hiking
Follow the same canoe routes used by the Ojibwe and early explorers on nine historical routes available in the Chippewa National Forest. Many streams and rivers offer limitless opportunities for scenic rides over the water, starting with the mighty Mississippi River, which flows into Cass Lake on the north end of the lake and exits at Knutson Dam on the south near the byway. There are 920 miles of streams and rivers within the Chippewa and more than 700 lakes. Wildlife abounds, as there are more than 240 species of birds and more than 50 different mammals. Whether you’re traveling by canoe, boat, and bike or on foot, you’re sure to enjoy seeing nature in all her splendor. Hiking in the Webster Lake area along the byway offers you an opportunity to experience a 2.7 mile bog “walk” through an interpretive trail that winds through boardwalk areas and wetlands. Here, you’ll see and experience nature that many people never see on typical trail walks. In the fall, many hunters come to this area for its grouse, woodcock and duck hunting. “Birders” can cross off many hard to find species, while enjoying picturesque scenery and clean air, undisturbed by the sounds of motors. The Pennington Bog, in the middle of the byway, contains large colonies of Showy Lady Slippers in June & July and is classified as a Scientific Nature Area. You’ll discover that the air you breathe while walking in the bog areas will be especially clean, pure and sweet smelling. Youll never forget it once you have experienced this!
During the 1930’s President Roosevelt created several thousand Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps nationwide; to employ young men in conservation work and help bring an end to the Great Depression. These CCC camps came to be known as Roosevelt’s Tree Army, as they planted millions of trees, as well as built roads, campgrounds, parks and many of the facilities we take for granted today. Camp Rabideau CCC is located on the byway 6 miles south of Blackduck. It was recently awarded Landmark status as the best preserved CCC in the United States. Restoration of the camp continues today, but you can take a guided tour from May through September and experience a unique part of our US history. The buildings remain as they were in the 1930’s and the equipment and furniture have been preserved. If you listen hard, you’ll even hear the camp cook ringing the dinner bell for the more than 200 young men who stayed at Rabideau CCC and built many of the buildings and roads you travel on, including the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway.
Native American Culture
The Lady Slipper Scenic Byway crosses through the Leech Lake Indian Reservation and there are many opportunities to experience both traditional and modern Native American culture. During the spring, summer and fall, Pow Wow’s are held each year. These are spiritual and social gatherings of the Indian people and visitors are invited to participate. The grand entry march that begins each Pow Wow is a spectacular display of colorful outfits and traditional meanings associated with the earth, birds and wildlife; interpreted by the dancers themselves. At the time of the white man’s arrival into Minnesota, the Ojibwe occupied over half of the state. You can learn about this history at the Leech Lake Cultural History Center & Ojibwe Village located on the byway near the Tribal College, a short distance from the Palace Casino, Hotel and Restaurant. While you’re discovering history, perhaps you can check out the many art and crafts, gifts and Native American treasures, hand crafted from Mother Nature herself, and offered at many of the local gift shops and festival events held throughout the summer.
Festivals and Art Shows
The byway offers many recreation, scenic, historic and cultural opportunities all year long. Among the many events held throughout the year are annual festivals and art shows. Blackduck holds an annual Wood Carvers Festival near the end of July and Cass Lake hosts an annual Rib Fest near the middle of July.
Hunting & Fishing
Hunting in “Lady Slipper Country” usually begins in September with the opening of the grouse season and continues into October with the opening of duck hunting, followed by the deer opener the first week of November. One of the best places for grouse hunting is in the Webster Lake area, as there are miles of trails that meander through wetlands, woods and small streams. Duck hunting is also great through this area, especially if you enjoy “jump shooting”, where you go from pond to pond sneaking up on the ducks. This area has been voted number one by hunting dogs! Trophy White Tail Deer are harvested every year in the northern end of the byway area, especially in the greater Blackduck area. Each year stories emerge of the elusive 30 point buck, and an occasional spotting of a moose and elk are reported.
Fishing in this area of the state is famous nationwide, as many national tournaments have been held in the southern end of the Byway on the Cass Lake chain of lakes, including the In-Fisherman PWT and numerous muskie and walleye tournaments throughout the season. On the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway you’ll find many smaller lakes that are easily accessed and are famous for their pan fish and bass action all year around. Lake Benjamin is a designated Trout Lake and is located at Camp Rabideau, where you can catch Rainbow Trout off of the Rabideau fishing pier. Check with the Chamber of Commerce in Blackduck, Cass Lake or Bemidji for a detailed listing of area lakes and free maps, plus listings of area fishing guides.
A drive along the byway in the fall is magical. The yellows of the aspen and birch and the yellow, orange and red of the maples, intersperse with the deep greens of the conifers for a feast for the eyes. Even the bogs cooperate as the tamaracks (the only conifer to loose it’s needles in the fall) turn yellow then golden before baring their branches, and the pitcher plants turn a deep red, contrasting with the bog vegetation. Be sure to venture off of the main route, especially on the forest roads around Rabideau, Anderson and Webster Lakes. While at Webster Lake Campground, stop and hike to the bogwalk to see the tamaracks and pitcher plants first hand!
The byway and the Chippewa National Forest can offer birders approximately 234 species of birds. It is home to the largest population of eagles in the lower 48 states. The Cass Lake visitors center can arrange special guided tours for enthusiasts seeking to check off more rare species on their life lists. Spring is a great time for bird sightings and fall brings a number of migratory species through the area.
Blackduck Area History and Art Center
This is a relatively new attraction, which opened its doors in 2006. Visitors and residents alike will find the “stepping-back-in-time” displays fascinating and informative. You can find a one-room home, a school display, a sports display, a telephone display–featuring the old area switchboards complete with a telephone pole and insulators–old tools, railroad memorabilia, medical equipment and much more. The center strives to recognize the heritage of the area’s first people with a Native American display including a wigwam recreated by area sixth graders under the direction of an Anishinaabe elder. The art component, “The TIN PAN gallery” has an interesting variety of art. The art sold through the gallery benefits the center. Both areas host history or art-related events frequently throughout the year. For more information call 218-835-4478.
Cass Lake Museum and Lyle’s Logging Camp
The museum was formerly a railroad depot and is one of the few remaining original Soo Line buildings in Minnesota. It features history of the Cass Lake area including many Native American and 1800’s artifacts. The adjacent logging museum was built by retired forester Lyle Chisholm. Lyle spent his summers in logging camps since the age of 11 years. Each of the six building is furnished just as it was in the early days. For more information call 218-335-6723.