Terra Galleria Photography

Voyageurs National Park’s Gem: Anderson Bay

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While the scenery of lakes and North Woods is beautiful, locations within Voyageurs National Park tend to look undistinguished. However, I have a clear favorite: Anderson Bay, which maybe has the most beautiful and varied short trail in the park and includes the best view in the park.

View from the top of the cliffs

Most of the views in the park are at water level since the heavily forested land has little elevation. Elevated views are rare and in general obscured by forest. After a half an hour hike from the boat landing, you’ll find what could be the most spectacular view in the park, as you stand on the top of white granite cliffs that abruptly rise 80 feet from the water, overlooking Anderson Bay dotted with islets typical of the North Woods.

The main view is facing East, and the scene works well as a silhouette at sunrise. In the autumn, the sun rises directly above the bay, whereas in the summer, it rises further left, behind a ridge, which isn’t as good. Looking towards the West, there is also a lovely view of the Anderson Bay.

The main view becomes front-lit at midday. On my first visit, in autumn, my most successful photograph was made in the even light of dusk, when the daylight-balanced film recorded blue tints. I aligned a group of nearby trees with two tree-covered islets to create a photograph with rhythm. Notice how some trees have changed in the interleaving two decades.

Rainy Lake

Continuing further the trail (counterclockwise), you reach the rock-lined shore of Rainy Lake, the largest in the park, near the Anderson West campsite, a good base for exploring the area. The trail hugs the shore closely, and you can easily wander on the rock slabs, which feature some of the oldest exposed rocks on earth. They are half the age of the Earth (2.8 billion year), and even older than those in the Grand Canyon. The light there is best early or late in the day.

Before leaving Rainy Lake, you arrive at beautiful Windmill Rock Cove, near the Windmill Rock Campsite. I preferred the mood of the cloudy weather of my first visit to the sunny weather of my second visit.

Beaver Ponds

While the trail it is well marked with cairns, it is lightly used and requires a bit of attention to follow. Shortly before the end of the loop, the trail overlooks a beautifully textured beaver pond which is best photographed in soft light. Beavers are important agents of change, as they rearrange the landscape by building dams, and Voyageurs National Park is a great place to observe the American beaver.

The Anderson Bay Loop Trail is about 1.75 mile-long. It is accessed from the landing dock by a 0.25-mile spur trail. To see another beaver pond, instead of returning to the landing, you can continue on the right fork on the trail towards Peary Lake, which is start of the Cruiser Lake Trail.


The Anderson Bay Loop could be reached via the Cruiser Lake Trail system (9.5 miles one-way) that crosses the Kabetogama Peninsula from Kabetogama Lake. However, by far, the easiest way to get there is by boat.

You’ll need your own, since the location is not visited by the tour boats, and that is reason enough to rent one. With a large boat, you need to start on Rainy Lake, whereas boats smaller than 21 feet can be portaged from Namakan Lake at Kettle Falls, allowing you to start in Kabetogama or Crane Lake. At the back of Anderson Bay, you’ll find a large dock and a day use area with picnic tables and a toilet, and for camping, you can stay at one of the two sites previously mentioned.

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