Suomi Hills Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized Area (Chippewa National Forest)
|Description: Suomi Hills in Itasca County offers the solitude of a semi-primitive, non-motorized forest in a world increasingly dominated by the sound of motorized equipment and vehicles. It is part of the Chippewa National Forest and named for the small Finnish community of Suomi, which is on the northern edge of the site. The area was logged from 1905 to 1910, with the settlement established about 1916. The Day Lake Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, which was also a prisoner of war camp during World War II, is also located on the north end of the Recreation Area.
Unlike northern coniferous forests dominated by red and white pine, spruce, fir and tamarack, this forest is characterized by maple, basswood and oak. Suomi Hills, situated along the "Edge of the Wilderness" National Scenic Byway, is graced with rolling hills and clear lakes.
Looking for an interesting hike? Head for the Miller Lake area, a "sunken" lake resulting from repeated washouts of a beaver dam. An enormous gully remains as evidence of the powerful washouts of Miller Lake into Amen Lake.
Wildlife to Watch: Beaver and loons are common on almost every lake. Experience the “teacher-teacher-teacher” call of ovenbirds, drumming of ruffed grouse, peenting of woodcocks and the distinctive cackling of pileated woodpeckers in one of this region’s few remaining high-quality stands of northern hardwood forest. Other birds include spring migrant warblers such as American redstart, black-and white, chestnut-sided and bay-breasted warblers. This is an excellent place to look and listen for scarlet tanagers and local raptors including broad-winged hawks and barred owls.
Adele, Spruce Island, Big Horn, Hill, Lucky and Kremer Lakes offer the chance to see bald eagles, ospreys, common loons, common goldeneyes, beavers and river otters.
There are 21 miles of forest trails, so watch for the tracks and scats of timber wolves. While camping, try some nocturnal howling to elicit a response from nearby pack members. Acorns and hazelnuts provide important fall and winter food for deer, black bears, gray and flying squirrels and many birds.
Special Tips: Excellent opportunities for wildflower photography exist in May. While looking for spring ephemeral wildflowers, you may encounter or hear wood frogs and gray tree frogs. Exceptional autumnal tree color in late September through early October.
Other Activities: Canoeing, hiking, swimming, skiing, snowshoeing, camping, fishing, biking, hunting
There are some pack-in primitive campsites available at a few of the lakes. The rolling topography offers cross-country and mountain bike trails for intermediate and advanced skiers and bikers. Outboard motors, chainsaws, power augers, and other internal combustion engines are not allowed to be stored on or transported across National Forest System land.
Ownership: USDA Forest Service
Size: 6000 acres
Closest Town: Marcell/Grand Rapids
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: