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Boreal Community Media

Over 100 volunteers covered all 57 miles of the Gunflint Trail for the 2024 Gunflint Clean-up

Jun 12, 2024 10:20AM ● By Content Editor
All photos taken by Laura Durenberger-Grunow.

By Laura Durenberger-Grunow - Boreal Community Media - June 12, 2024


The sun, bugs, and over 100 Cook County community members and Gunflint Trail lovers were out in full force for the 2024 Gunflint Trail Clean-up on Saturday, June 8. Andrea Hofeldt, organizer of the event and co-owner of Loon Lake Lodge, told Boreal Community Media that all 57 miles of the Gunflint Trail were covered by volunteers this year, versus 50 miles last year.

 The Cook County Highway Department would pick up the bags and trash items after the event. 


The event not only "greens up" the Trail, but also aims to "Draw more community awareness and improve the natural landscape of the Gunflint Trail and surrounding BWCA lakes," according to the event website.  But the focus is not just on picking up trash; Hofedlt has designed the event to be fun and promote creativity by offering awards for the most unique item found, most salvageable item, best team name, and more. These awards are given at a Trash Bash, which takes place after the clean-up. The Trash Bash offers volunteers a chance to sit, eat (Shari Baker from Gunflint Pines provided a delicious meal for all participants), catch up, and learn about reducing waste. 

 The Schaap Community Center was packed with volunteers enjoying food, community, and fun. 


Community members had the opportunity to turn trash into treasure by making seasonal creations from various items. Hofedlt hosted Trail Trash Trivia, where attendees got to learn about waste statistics specific to the Trail, courtesy of Dustin Hanson, co-owner of North Shore Waste.
(For the May 1st- October 31st period, in 2019 there was 393,400 lbs of municipal solid waste (non-construction or demolition waste), and in 2023, 474,300 lbs of municipal solid waste.)
Robyn Hanson introduced TerraCycle's recycling programs and shared ways to reduce household waste. 

 The "Winter" team created a decoration of holiday-themed items for a fireplace mantel out of waste items. 


 The "Fall" team created multiple Halloween costumes out of waste items. 


 The "Spring" team created a garden decoration out of waste items. 




 Shari Baker from Gunflint Pines provided a delicious meal for all participants.


 Attendees had the opportunity to learn about TerraCycle recycling programs, as well as ways to reduce household waste. 


"[The Gunflint Trail Clean-up is a] great community building event! My road is clean, my heart is full," Hofedlt shared. 


2024 Winners

  • Best team names:  "Dumpsters not Ditches" and "Ditch Witches"
  • Most unique piece of trash:  A Hawaiian lei fully intact, a brand new humidifier that must have fallen out of a car, dirty underwear, a brand new Rubbermaid storage tote lid- no matching tote just the lid, lots of vape pens, COVID test box
  • Most salvageable piece of trash: an old padlock with a key that still works, a waterproof map case, lots of bungee cords, truck and boat trailer hitch pins, soft foam canoe/kayak rack pads, eyeglass case

 Local businesses and organizations donated prizes for winners. 


 Salvageable items such as a Lei, a padlock with key, lots of bungee cords, and a car mat were found during the Clean-up. 


 Salvageable items such as a Lei, a padlock with key, lots of bungee cords, and a car mat were found during the Clean-up. 


 This intact linen (albeit moldy) bag was found along the side of the Gunflint Trail. Other gross items found were dirty diapers, underwear, and lots of cigarettes. 


 A fabric frame from Scheels Outfitters was discovered on the side of the Gunflint Trail. 


 A fishing lure in great condition was found along the Gunflint Trail. 



Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here