Hiking The Lost Forty


Added by Robin Pfeifer

Distance: 0.5 - 1.5 miles round trip. Get up close and personal with 400-year-old virgin pine trees. A day of solitude and silence in the Chippewa National Forest. Learn about the interesting history of Minnesota's north woods.

A little known section of the Chippewa National Forest called “The Lost Forty" leads day hikers through some of the last remaining virgin red and white pine trees in Minnesota. These trees are 300-400 years old and measure between 22 and 48 inches in diameter. But even more incredible than the age and size of the trees is their back story. In 1882, a land surveyor accidentally mapped this section of forest as nearby Coddington Lake. Therefore, the trees went untouched by loggers moving through the area. Today, they are a living reminder of what the north woods used to look like in its virgin state.

The largest nearby city is Bemidji, about an hour southwest. This is a vibrant tourist town that offers a nice variety of restaurants, bars, lodging and recreational opportunities. It's also the home of Paul Bunyan and Babe, as denoted by their massive statues welcoming visitors into town. Getting to the The Lost Forty from Bemidji involves navigating a series of rural highways. Print directions ahead of time because cell phone reception is not guaranteed as the roads get increasingly remote. When in doubt, simply follow the ‘Point of Interest’ signs that begin popping up as you enter the Chippewa National Forest.

Upon arrival at The Lost Forty, park in the small roundabout near the picnic area and pit toilet. Parking is free, but limited. Then again, so are the crowds in this area. Pick up the trailhead just across the forest road. The hike is short; the front quarter-mile loop weaves through the old-growth pine. The back loop winds three-quarters of a mile along rolling hills, with pine that originated after a fire at the turn of the century.

While the distance of this hike is short, its impact is big: almost immediately upon entering the woods, you will be surrounded by staggeringly massive creatures from the old world. Everything about these trees looks ancient – from their thick, craggy bark to their massive limbs high overhead. As if standing beside mountains or the ocean, that familiar feeling of being very small in a very big and wild world will start to set in.

Allow plenty of time to stop, stare and possibly even hug a tree or two. These things simply don't grow in the wild (or city) anymore.

Read More

Know for

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area



Leave a Review

Lost 40 Adventure

Hi Robin! This is Mary on the Chippewa National Forest....loved your photos of the big pines at Lost 40 and wondering if I could use the winter photo (photographer looking up at the big pine) for our website. We are highlighting areas on the Forest to encourage people to get out there this winter! You can reach me through TheOutBound or via my work email at mnordeen@fs.fed.us Thanks much! Mary

Fun, Fast, Easy Hike!

We venture up to the Lost Forty every spring to see the beautiful trees and enjoy a quick, easy, beautiful hike --- the woods smells so wonderful in the spring!

132 total saves


Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Nearby Adventures

Camp on Star Island, MN

Paddle at Big Wolf Lake


Walk the Big Bog Boardwalk

2 mi

Walk Across the Mississippi River in Itasca SP

1 mi / 0 ft gain
More Nearby Adventures