There is perhaps nothing that rivals the flavor of a fresh, ripe, wild berry. Now is the time to get out there and see what you can gather- just try not to eat them all before you get back home!
First a quick disclaimer: It's important that you know exactly what you are eating while foraging in the woods. The rumor that all blue-colored berries are edible, for example, is false. Do some research before you head out so you know what you're eating. Watch any kids who are picking with you to be sure that they only eat plants you're sure are safe and edible.
The Whitefish Chain is fortunate to have an abundance of wild berries to pick throughout the summer, and July is one of the best times to find them. Primarily you'll find blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Gathering wild berries is totally legal on public lands in Minnesota so long as they're for personal (not commercial) use.
Blueberries grow low to the ground and often on high bluffs. Hiking around to find the berries is half the fun, but we can tell you that in the past we've had some luck on the island at Veteran's Hiking Trail just outside of Jenkins. (Find more info on the trails here.) One of the trails at this site leads to an island by way of a boardwalk over a bog, which in itself is a fun and interesting hike. There's a loop at the top of the island- keep your eyes on the ground and see what you can find.
Blackberries and raspberries, meanwhile, are abundant around the chain. You'll find both these berries in sunny areas and even on roadsides. We suggest checking Uppgaard Wildlife Management Area and Pelican Woods Nature Trails. Uppgaard is a great place for wildlife viewing as well. Watch for deer, beavers, waterfowl and more as bonuses to your berry search. The Pelican Woods Nature Trails are adjacent to the Pelican Cemetery, and walking the paved loop around the cemetery has in the past been literally fruitful. You'll also have the opportunity to check out the all veterans memorial statue by local metal artist Jeff Kreitz.
While blueberries and blackberries are sometimes harder to find, you can just about count on finding wild raspberries anywhere around the Whitefish Chain so long as you keep your eyes open. For more ideas of where to go, check out the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway's list of walking trails or talk to your local lodging staff.
We recommend packing sunscreen as well as bug repellent when embarking on your berry picking excursion. If you hope to take home more than you can eat along the way, bring a container to fill. Some water is also a good idea for hot days.
Need some ideas on what to do with your extra berries? We recommend adding them to pancakes, muffins, or pairing them with your favorite vanilla bean ice cream. Enjoy!