About the Area

WELCOME “Boozhoo”

Boozhoo! (Welcome! In the Ojibwe language) The Chippewa National Forest, located in the heart of northern Minnesota, is a celebration of seasons, culture, and environment. This northern hardwood forest blends with the western prairies and the northern boreal forest to the north and east. It is a Forest created from shared ecological boundaries, red oak to white pine, wild ginger to wild rice and Canada lynx to sandhill cranes. The border is shared between governments and people as well, with Chippewa National Forest personnel working together with tribal members of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.


People have inhabited the land we now know as the Chippewa National Forest for thousands of years. In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt designated the Chippewa as the first National Forest established east of the Mississippi River. In 2008 the Chippewa celebrated 100 years! Originally known as the Minnesota National Forest, the name was changed in 1928 to honor the original inhabitants. Today, the Forest and the Leech Lake Indian Reservation share goals as well as boundaries that offer visitors a chance to experience Anishinabek culture, a rich history, ranging from prehistoric times to the early logging era and CCC days and a unique future.


National forests were established to provide clean water sources and continuing forest resources for the nation, while protecting and managing the land for future generations. With over 100 years of experience, we continue to actively build links with our communities to protect or reuse our unique resources, reestablish missing or threatened resources, and capitalize on our human resources. We strive to keep the Chippewa National Forest an active part of larger ecological, social and economic networks in Minnesota and the Forest Service.


Water oriented recreation such as fishing, canoeing, camping, water-skiing and swimming are popular on the Chippewa National Forest. Twenty-one developed campgrounds, located on the major lakes, offer a place to relax or to fish muskie, walleye, northern pike, bass or sunfish. To “rough it”, 100 back-country campsites are available in remote areas. There are 298 miles of non-motorized trails to enjoy the Chippewa National Forest, and 380 motorized trails. Visitors have ample opportunities to hike and view spring wildflowers, bike along a tranquil lake, hunt grouse on a hunter/ walking trail or ski through the winter woods.


Three areas on Chippewa National Forest have been designated Semi Primitive Non-motorized (SPNM) Areas which emphasize recreation opportunities in nearly primitive surroundings where motorized use is not permitted. The Trout Lake SPNM was established in 1986, the North Winnie SPNM was designated in 2004, and the Suomi Hills SPNM was recently expanded to help provide a broad spectrum of recreational opportunities in Chippewa National Forest.


Water is abundant on the Chippewa! The Forest’s landscape is a reminder of the glaciers that sculpted northern Minnesota’s landscape 10,000 years ago. The Chippewa is the headwaters of two major drainages, the Mississippi River and Hudson Bay. Twenty-five watersheds lace the Forest with 400,000 acres of open water; 1,300 lakes including three of Minnesota’s five largest, 925 miles of streams and over 400,000 acres of wetlands represents half of the 1.6 million acres within the Chippewa National Forest boundary.


The Chippewa National Forest has one of the largest breeding population areas of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. Eagles are often viewed soaring over larger lakes of the area. Over 250 wildlife species can be found on the Chippewa. White-tailed deer, ruffed grouse and numerous waterfowl provide good wildlife viewing and hunting opportunities. Rare and sensitive species such as the osprey, loon, great grey owl, goshawk, goblin ferns and orchids can be found. There is an active fisheries program supporting walleye, muskie, lake trout, pan fish, bass and many other aquatic species.