Honeymoon Bluff is located off Clearwater Lake Rd, roughly 30 miles up the Gunflint Trail, or a 17 minute drive, if you’re staying at Rockwood Lodge and Outfitters. Our family has hiked Honeymoon Bluff just about every year that we’ve vacationed at Rockwood. The allure is definitely the combination of a relatively easy hike, with the reward of a picturesque view at top. AllTrails describes Honeymoon Bluff as a ‘0.4 mile moderately trafficked loop,’ however, we know from firsthand experience that the traffic on the trail is subject to the time of day and year. Because when the light begins to fade and the leaves begin to turn, there’s an obvious uptick in the number of hikers scrambling to the top to catch the brilliant fall colors, or watch the sun set over Hungry Jack Lake. It’s worth every one of the 88 stairs climbed to witness it.
On the last day of May, we hiked Honeymoon Bluff with our party of six. We kept our dog back at the cabin, but dogs are allowed as long as they are kept on a lease. With blue skies and a mild temperature of 66 degrees, we took Clearwater Lake Rd, a winding, dusty road bordered with tall trees and calm lake waters, to the trailhead. The quiet drive always feels like the perfect conditions to run into a moose or bear. Unfortunately, in all the years we’ve traveled this road, we’ve only ever seen a porcupine; which when you live in the city, is considered an exciting wildlife sighting.
The hike is easy, as in easy short, but the stairs may make it a challenge for some. As I mentioned, there are 88 stairs in total, and it’s not long into the start of the hike that they pop up. However after 29 stairs climbed, there’s a break of level ground between the two stairways; which is both a welcomed relief and a chance to catch your breath before the final push to the top. At the top of the stairs is a short, but beautiful path that is tree-lined and light-speckled. The sun dances all over the trail, highlighting the fragile ferns that decorate the pathway. You can hear birds singing and feel the cool breeze on your skin as the path begins to open, offering a small respite from the climb. You’ll be tempted to look up, into the trees swaying above, or to watch the play of light all around, but keep your eyes on the path, because there are rocks, stumps and uneven earth for most of the remaining way up. And then you arrive… at the top of this short, but steep hike, to a view that catches your breath, cools your skin, and erases the memory of every last one of those darn stairs climbed. It’s vast and impressive, and, in my opinion, the quintessential view of the north woods. The tall pines, in varying shades of light and dark green envelopes Hungry Jack lake. On the day we visited, the wind was blowing ripples over the lake and the trees stirred in the breeze. The sun warmed our faces, and the quiet (because we were the only ones there) made us feel like we were on top of the world; an expansive and uncomplicated view of the world. It’s a beautiful sight to see. Fences protect visitors from getting close to the sheer cliffs that drop down to the water, although if you’re a mom and have a fear of heights, you’ll still reprimand your kids from getting too close to the fence, even when your kids are adults. After you’ve soaked up all the fresh air and beautiful views, the trek back is all downhill from there. In fact, our middle son, likes to heel click most of the way down. Though it’s best not to do that.
We have archives of images from so many of our visits to Honeymoon. Some are set in early spring, or middle to late summer. We always photograph the scenery and our people, although it never really looks the same from year to year. It’s a special hike, and one that we will continue to visit every year we vacation at Rockwood. If not only because it’s short and effortful, but because it connects us to nature, our family, and the simple beauty of life on the Gunflint Trail.