The Susie Islands lie off the coast of Minnesota. They are a nature preserve managed by the National Trust for Wildlife. You have to have a boat to get out there. The best way to see it is from the overlook on Mt. Josephine, right on U.S. 61. Going north from Grand Portage towards High Falls State Park, you slowly climb up and over a saddle in Mt. Josephine. Just as the view north opens and the lake reappears, there's a wide overlook on the lake side. Pull in and stop. From here, you look north and northeast. To the north, you see Canada. To the northeast you see the Susie Islands in the foreground and if the weather is clear, Isle Royale stretches out into the lake towards the northeast.
It's not recommended that you go out to the Susie Islands as they are private property and you need to be prepared for high waves on Lake Superior. The bays may be calm and yet on the open Lake, the waves can run 2-4 feet (1-1.5 m) on what looks like a calm day.
Isle Royale National Park is located in Lake Superior. The only access is by boat. Two leave from Grand Portage and two leave from Michigan (Copper Harbor and Houghton)
The island is a wilderness. No vehicles, only trails, moose, wolf, and lots of mosquitos. Come prepared.
The witch tree is one of the worlds smallest and oldest trees. It is mentioned in the journals of the clerks, back in the 1790's. That being so, leads to the conclusion that this tree is over 300 years old.
The witch tree is located on the north side of the ridge that becomes Hat Point. It has grown out of the very rocks holding Lake Superior at bay. Because of it's precarious position, it is seen to have a powerful spirit. The Objibwa have revered this tree as did the voyageurs. Offerings of tobacco are sometimes left. The Voyageurs would sometimes make a point of passing below this spot and even stopping briefly to give thanks for their safe journey and ask for a safe return.
Today, the land is owned by the Grand Portage Band of the Chippewa (Ojibwa). Because of vandalism, it is not accessible at all times. Stop in the stockade and find out from the local ranger if it is open. It's a few 100 feet (abt 100 meters) from a parking area.
The community of Grand Portage has a variety of places to visit and things to see that far exceed those limited to Grand Portage National Monument, a park of the same name. But don't miss the park and don't miss the wonderful opportunities that the community offers. For me details on the park, See my Grand Portage National Monument page.
Also on display at Grand Portage National Historic Site are native american wigwams. The Indian peoples of this region regarded the birch as "the tree of life," and they used it in many different and ingenuous ways. Their wigwams were made entirely from different products of the birch tree, and could be assembled and dis-assembled to allow them to more their encampments from place to place.
In the summer, park guides give demonstrations of native american lifeways and crafts. Here a Parks employee is demonstrating the technique for preparing wild rice. He is milling it, separating the grain from the chaff. Later, he cooked the rice on an open flame and passed it around for the park visitors to sample.
When the North West Company operated in the late18th century, all of its valuable furs destined for Montreal and points beyond passed through its palisade at Grand Portage. The wood fencing at the fort was intended to dissuade would-be brigands and robbers, and not meant to be a meaningful barrier against the possibility of co-ordinated attack. It's important to note that at this period of history, relations between "the white man" and "the native" on the frontier was still quite good.
Grand Portage served as the Great Lakes trading post of the North West Company between 1783 and 1804, when the headquarters was shifted nearly fifty miles to the north, to Fort William, on the north side of the Pigeon River. (The change was necessitated by terms of the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which gave control of this "neck of the woods" to the fledging government of the newly independent republic.) At the peak of operations, the fort here consisted of 16 buildings large and small, centered on the Great Hall, where the most important trading activity took place at the time of the annual gathering of the voyageurs, the Rendezvous.
At the time of the annual Rendezvous, all of the traders, partners, prominent Native Americans and voyageurs dined under the same roof in the great hall. It was an important part of the trading system to demonstrate hospitality and generosity. But not everyone sat at the same table, not everyone dined as the partners did, with the linen tablecloths and fine china. Still, it seems comfortable enough; and certainly a far cry from a roadside Mickey D's!
Grand Portage State Park, which is Minnesota's newest state park and part of an Ojibwe reservation, is home to the High Falls of the Pigeon River which straddle the border of Minnesota and Canada and drop about 120 feet. The High Falls are a relatively easy walk of a mile round trip, or maybe even a bit less, from the Visitor Center. The walk is wheelchair accessible as is one of the three viewing platforms, or overlooks.
Another longer and more strenuous trail leads to the Middle Falls but even it is no more than a couple miles, if that.
Also in the park are nine picnic areas with tables. Four of the nine also have permanently affixed grills.
You can also fish in the Pigeon River but you must have both a Minnesota and an Ojibwe fishing license.
In the winter, the trails are available for snowshoeing and off-trail adventuring.
There is also a landmark marking the border between the USA and Canada.
The Visitor Center is open year-round, Monday - Friday from 8:30 AM until 4 PM and has a gift shop.