A journey embarked upon for the sake of mentally and physically challenging oneself in the company of dogs.
A love and respect for dogs
Points Unknown evolved from a love and respect for dogs and the deep desire to create dog-based adventures for those with a range of experience levels. Those new to dogs and/or mushing, all the way up to mushers with their own sled dog teams, are welcome to join us if looking for new challenges.
Points Unknown promotes and actively maintains a kennel of traditional sled dogs including the Freight Alaskan Husky and Hedlund Husky. At one time we played an active role in the preservation of the Canadian Inuit Dog.
Our love of nature, dogs and the outdoors has always been a driving force in the direction of our lives. With the dogs, we followed our internal compass north and abandoned the hustle and bustle of a semi suburban yet, by all appearances, rural lifestyle, thirty miles west of the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN metropolitan area. Opening up a new chapter in the peaceful, remote north woods of Minnesota's Arrowhead Region, we now live and work off grid using power from the sun.
Our "corporate headquarters" rests on 40 acres of woods, surrounded by State and Federal lands, 26 miles northeast of Grand Marais, MN and 7 miles up the hill from Lake Superior's shores. Here, we not only provide dog sledding tours and teach folks how to dog mush through Points Unknown, but we also handcraft pure beeswax candles using our solar energy. To learn more about our beeswax candle business please visit Scent from Nature.
You can now stay with us and more fully immerse yourself in our lifestyle! The Points Unknown Bed & Sled/Hostel is your home base for adventure!
Check out these experiences
- True North Woods Dog Sledding Experience
- Taste of the North Woods Dog Sledding Experience
- Day in the Life Dog Sledding Experience
- Seasonal Lifestyle Immersion Experience
In the News
WTIP in Grand Marais, MN, USA did a radio feature on Points Unknown and our Bed & Sled.
This video, created by a former Points Unknown handler/Intern, will leave you in tears of joy at the human/canine bond.
Linda and Points Unknown were featured in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
See what the Sierra Club Magazine has to say about the Points Unknown Women's Adventures!
Points Unknown was featured in the Carver County Gold Miner (530kb pdf)
See the Points Unknown Sled Dogs in action!
Points Unknown is currently on a journey with a result that includes providing you with some very unique, OFF GRID, north woods dog mushing experiences! You can follow this journey by following our blog or the Points Unknown Facebook page.
- Women's Winter Adventures
- Advanced Women's Winter Adventure in Minnesota's beautiful northwoods. Please contact us directly for information on this adventure.
- Girl Scout Dog Mushing Badge Program! This program provides each girl with all of the education and hands-on experience needed to meet the requirements necessary to receive the dog mushing badge. This is a popular program so be sure to book early!
- Canicross Hiking
- Pull Training with your dog
- Kennel Tours (year 'round). Come and cuddle the sled dogs and see what our lifestyle with the dogs is all about! Contact us for details.
About the Instructors
We have a passion for sharing our knowledge with those who love dogs and are thirsty for education and adventure. We often have internships available. Please Contact us if you would be interested in our internship program. In the meantime, you can read below, about previous interns that have been with us here at Points Unknown.
Linda grew up all over the United States in a U.S. Forest Service family. The wilderness has always been a driving force in her life. Linda had a dog all through her childhood but didn't find her true passion for them until the 1990s. Linda has been training dogs since 1994. She got her first sled dogs in 2000 and thus began her sled dog training. She came from a background of Australian Shepherds, obedience and agility training. What a shock the sled dogs provided! No more "what can I do for you, how much and how long?" More like "Right. I'm not doing that until I get what I want. Then I will decide what you get and when." She loved them nonetheless and together, they do some extraordinary things and she wants to share that with others.
Linda's dream of a career that included her passion for the outdoors and her love and respect for her canine companions became a reality in early 2005 when she started Points Unknown. Points Unknown was contracted to provide dog mushing adventures at a popular northern Minnesota Lodge in Grand Marais, MN, USA in the winters of 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 and Linda headed up this program, creating a number of different dog sledding adventures and experiences for their guests. She is currently a DNR Becoming an Outdoors Women program instructor, and is giving dog mushing instruction at her homestead in Hovland and providing demonstrations at local events.
Neil was born and raised in England and has recently retired from the Royal Army Medical Corps of the British Army. Having traveled to many parts of the world, he now favors the remoteness of the northwoods. His time is now divided as a director of a medical company in England and a working with Points Unknown with his wife Linda. Neil and Linda were married in December of 2011!
He has been with us here at Points Unknown since 2008 and brings experience in leadership, navigation and first aid and is proving to have what it takes to live in the wilderness and work with our dogs. He is a full time guide and educator.
Some of Neil’s other pastimes include kayaking, canoeing, skiing, snowshoeing and cycling. He is very mechanically inclined and puts that skill to work making improvements to some of our equipment that includes wonderful updates to our fall training rig! He has now mastered the art of collecting up dog poop, a skill all good mushers must possess!
Hailey was born and raised in Minneapolis, and is attending Normandale Community College in Bloomington, MN. She has lived around animals her whole like and her family currently has two dogs, cat, parrot, and guinea pig. Her love for the outdoors began at a young age, traveling to her grandparents cabin in Wisconsin and being taught about the woods and how to fish by her father and grandfather. Hailey’s passion for the outdoors has only grown as time wears on and she spends as much of her summers as possible in northern Minnesota on canoeing and backpacking trips.
Hailey met Linda in August of 2005, and has been addicted to sled dogs and volunteering for Points Unknown ever since. On weekends in which school projects and essays are absent she can be found visiting Points Unknown, Linda, Neil and the sled dogs, doing whatever chores need to be done. She is an enormous asset to the kennel and is considered a member of the family. Not only that, but the dogs have helped her to realize more about herself and the world around her, and now she wishes to share her knowledge and passions with others. Hailey was a full time Points Unknown handler/guide for the winter of 2013-2014 and now, returns to help with the dogs and guide tours as needed, each winter.
Originally born in Ringwood NJ, Claire, known to her friends and family simply as Bear, moved back to the UK when she was 6 months old and spent her childhood living between Scotland and North Wales.
She graduated from the University of Sussex with an Honors degree in Biomedical Science and will soon be training to become a midwife, but has decided to now pursue her dream of living and working with sled dogs before her training.
Claire has always lived in the country and loves the being outdoors , despite the sometimes less than favorable Scottish weather, with her Chesapeake Bay retriever Buffy or her Golden Retriever Scott, before him. She loves to play the piano, guitar and saxophone when she gets the chance, and is a keen skier and scuba diver. Claire’s love, fascination and enthusiasm for dogs has brought her over the Atlantic and she is looking forward to the many challenges that life in Minnesota may bring as the new Points Unknown dog handler and guide-in-training.
Update - Claire spent from July 2014 through the winter of 2014-2015 dog handling and successfully learned to guide tours for Points Unknown and we hope to see her back in the future!
Lee Ann Swenson
Lee Ann comes by her deep love of the wilderness through her Northern Minnesota heritage and over a decade of Canadian living. After corporate burn-out and frustration, Lee Ann "bought the farm" and now lives in Northern New Jersey, enjoying a second career fueled by medical writing and transitioning into a sustainable working farm lifestyle. With her eye on this new direction, Lee Ann has completed courses in advanced cheese making, French cheeses, and artisanal bread. Lee Ann has also won several awards for her preserves, which she will include in her cooking on our Beginner Adventure.
Lee Ann has a deep connection with animals and currently her pack includes 4 sled dogs, 3 horses, 2 goats, 17 chickens, 3 cats, and a parrot. Her expertise in manure management makes her ideally suited as one of our dog handlers. In addition, Lee Ann has attended several Points Unknown adventures since 2007, including the exciting "Run your own Iditarod" event in 2009. Over the years, Linda Newman has been one of Lee Ann's primary dog sledding mentors and teachers. Building upon her love of these dogs, Lee Ann has recently begun to spin "Sled Dog Chiengora" yarn for her knitting to add a new dimension to their farm. Beyond dog sledding, skijoring, and cooking, Lee Ann is an avid equestrian who successfully competes in hunter/jumper events. Lee Ann returns, mostly yearly, to help with the dogs and to cook fabulous cuisine for our beginner adventures.
Hannah grew up in Wyoming MN with 6 siblings and two family dogs. She’s the middle child and an identical twin. Both her parents grew up around Duluth and she’s spent much of her life in Minnesota’s northland, vacationing at her family cabin. Her interest in sled dogs and wolves started very early in life and she applied that interest by volunteering her time at Carlos Avery Nature Center in Forest Lake, MN. Working at a dog groomer business gave her some hands-on experience in dog bathing, toe nail clipping, and getting to know all different kinds of dogs.
Enjoying time with her own dog, she taught him to bikejor and skijor. All of this will come in handy when working with the Points Unknown sled dogs. Earlier in the year, Hannah brought her family up to Points Unknown for a dog sledding experience and she was hooked. She just had to learn more and set out to make that happen for herself when, during her adventure with Points Unknown, she handed us her resume! Now that’s going out and getting what you want.
Update - Hannah successfully learned how to safely run a team of sled dogs and qualified as an official guide for Points Unknown during the 2015-2016 winter season, running tours and educating our guests. She began her training with us in July of 2015. She lives close enough to Points Unknown that she can easily swing by for period visits with the dogs or to run a tour during our winter season. We look forward to seeing her again in the future!
Lian’s love for traveling and the outdoors started at an early age. Her father’s work for the National Park Service and her mother’s work for an international human rights organization gave her both an appreciation for nature and an insatiable need to travel. Since then, she hasn’t stopped moving. Shortly after graduating from the University of Rochester with a degree in film and media studies, Lian began her seasonal work lifestyle. She spent six months working at Denali National Park with the Student Conservation Association as a media intern. During her free time, she participated in the volunteer dog walking program. The only National Park with working sled dogs, the kennel relies heavily on seasonal workers to help exercise the dogs during the summer. She quickly fell in love with her dog for the season Tephra and hopes to make it back to her someday. After departing Alaska, she headed for the desert and spent six months working at Joshua Tree National Park. Her love for the outdoors and National Parks has taken her all over the country. She has hiked extensively, getting out into the wilderness and backcountry whenever she could.
She has certifications in First Aid, ATV safety, and several scuba diving certificates. Lian is always looking to learn something new, whether it is swing dancing, underwater photography, aerial silks or mushing dogs. Having grown up with dogs all her life and spent time volunteering with Denali Kennels, she is excited that her next big adventure will be with Points Unknown.
Update - Lian arrived in July of 2015 and began her training with us at that time. She quickly qualified as a guide and educator with Points Unknown and spent the 2015-2016 winter season sharing her new-found knowledge with our guests. We can only hope that her travels bring her back for at least a visit to Points Unknown in the future. Last we spoke, she was off to an adventure in Yellowstone National Park.