Step Outside - Minnesota WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 http://stepoutside.org/ Step Outside - Minnesota 144 144 http://stepoutside.org/ https://cdnstep-americantownscom.netdna-ssl.com/img/stepoutside_logo.gif Thu, 25 Apr 2019 15:06:16 -0500 5 Awesome RV Campsites in Minnesota One of the best ways to enjoy all the natural beauty that Minnesota has to offer is in the comfort of your RV. Not only do you get to commune with nature, you get to do it with a bed and a refrigerator. Who can argue with that? These are some our favorite places to park the RV and explore the North Star State.  

If you want your RV camping experience to be more like a resort experience, Bluff Valley is the campground for you. Tucked along a meander in the Zumbro River, the campground has 275 good-sized sites. Standard sites are up to 2,000 square-feet, and premium sites are 4,200 square-feet or bigger. Bluff Valley has a regular schedule of activities that include all-you-can-eat pancake breakfasts, weekly karaoke, live music, and other events. A driving range, climbing wall, disc golf course, and tubing on the Zumbro River will ensure that you’re never bored while camping at Bluff Valley.

The Grand Marais Campground and Marina is located in the city limits, but stretches along the harbor and shore of Lake Superior. From the lakeside sites, you’d never know that you’re only blocks from the town’s quaint business district. A playground, as well as courts and fields, will keep sports-minded campers busy. Meanwhile, the adjacent forest and nature area, along with the Gitchi Gami State Bike Trail afford opportunities for campers to enjoy some of the North Shore’s natural beauty. The campground has 161 sites with full hook-ups, and another 82 with just water and electric. Wi-Fi and cable TV are also available at Grand Marais Campground and Marina.

Campers in the Brainerd Lakes area will love the North Woods, family feel of Fritz’s Resort and Campground in Nisswa. Tucked onto the east side of Lake Edna, the resort is a laid-back spot for campers who enjoy Minnesota lake life. A clean, sandy beach, boat rentals—fishing, pontoon, and paddle—and canoeing will help you enjoy it even more. Fritz’s Resort and Campground also has an air-conditioned recreation hall, where campers can pick up necessities, play pool, ping pong, or shuffleboard and get to know their neighbors.

Sometimes an RV campground can feel a bit crowded, but if you hook up at one of St. Croix State Park’s three campgrounds, you’ll have plenty of wide open space to explore. The park, the biggest in the state park system, sits at the confluence of two federally-designated Wild and Scenic Waterways: The St. Croix and Kettle Rivers. In addition to river-oriented activities, like fishing and canoeing, the park also offers a swimming beach on an inland lake, miles of hiking trails, and a fire tower that can be explored. A nature store and interpretive center are located within easy walking distance of all three campgrounds. Wi-Fi is available but its range is limited.

Campers looking for a little nature that’s close to attractions like the Mall of America or the Minnesota Zoo, need look no further than Lebanon Hills Regional Park. Although its situated among 2,000 acres of woods and lakes in the Twin Cities’ southern suburbs, Lebanon Hills feels like a million miles from civilization. A playground, camp store, and laundry facilities are available on site for those who don’t want to burst the illusion of being “someplace else.” Campers in the West Loop, however, can still get news of the outside world via Wi-Fi.

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iStock.com/Sitikka http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-rv-campsites-in-minnesota http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-rv-campsites-in-minnesota Fri, 22 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Apres Ski Activities in Minnesota Downhill snow sports—skiing and snowboarding, anyway—create feelings of camaraderie and conviviality that one hates to leave on the slopes. Such feelings gave rise to the notion of apres ski (literally, “after ski”) as a thing. Even here in the North Star State, where our hills may be smaller but our enthusiasm is writ large, you can find a great apres scene. Here are our favorites apres ski places and activities in Minnesota.

While Lutsen Mountain—the Upper Midwest’s biggest ski area—has plenty of awesome apres ski options, Papa Charlie’s Tavern & Stage is the one with the best scene. Regional and local acts come from all around to play the stage. Dancing, drinking, carousing—and yes, even food—can be had well into the evening after a long (or short) day of downhill.

Not too far from Spirit Mountain you’ll find this hot spot among locals and visitors. With some of the best brews around, Canal Park Brewing Company makes for a memorable experience. With amazing views of Lake Superior and a menu full of unique flavor combinations, beer might even be an afterthought! Try their famous beers on tap, such as the double Irish red "Bold Beacon," and you won’t be disappointed!

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Only a 20 minute drive from Hyland Hills Ski Area is the Mall of America. If you’ve never heard of it, MOA is a revolutionary mall that has unbelievable attractions such as a 1.3-million-gallon aquarium, indoor amusement parks, a multilevel go-kart track, black light mini golf, visual reality and cinematic experiences, and so much more. Who would ever think that shopping would be the last priority when you head to the mall? Trade your lift ticket for a wristband and head to the Nickelodeon Universe to experience the largest indoor theme park centered around Nickelodeon’s familiar characters.

Afton Alps is the largest ski area that is technically within the Twin Cities metro. If you’ve made the trip to Afton, you’ll find plenty of apres right on sight. Paul’s has a big double fireplace, a full kitchen and a full bar. Meanwhile, on select weekends, the Cantina is open for margaritas and tacos. Live music and special events occur throughout the season.

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Giants Ridge, on the Iron Range, is a laid-back ski area in the great Northwoods of Minnesota. After leaving all you had on the slopes, head over to the resort’s best apres bar: The Burnt Onion. Great food, a fully-stocked bar, a fireplace, and live music on the weekends make the Burn Onion a perfect place to rest your tired legs.

You’ve been shredding for hours at Wild Mountain in the St. Croix River Valley, and you’re looking for a place where you can mingle, eat, drink, and listen to some live music. Although, the chalet at Wild Mountain is serviceable, do yourself a favor and head a few miles up the road to Al’s Center Saloon, a quirky—and popular—lakeside bar in nearby Center City.

In Southeast Minnesota, you’ll find plenty of vertical in the bowl of Coffee Mill Ski Area, but you’ll the best aprés a few blocks from the foot of the runs at the convivial Olde Triangle Pub in downtown Wabasha. The welcoming pub atmosphere, hearty Irish-style fare and plenty of friendly people with whom to chat will help to warm your soul after an afternoon of shredding.

If you’ve been shredding Mount Ski Gull in the Brainerd Lakes Area, the best nearby apres scene is going to be at Zorbaz, just a little way up the shore of Gull Lake from the ski area. Zorbaz is a perennial party favorite in Minnesota’s lake country, and winter doesn’t slow down the drinking, camaraderie and music one bit.

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Buck Hill is where Lindsey Vonn got her start. If you're in the area, make sure to take advantage of the awesome apres scene at the Black Diamond Restaurant & Bar. The Black Diamond music series ensures that you’re having as much fun in the chalet as you were on the hill. The bar and your fellow downhill enthusiasts take care of the rest.

This brewery, named after the historic Spiral Bridge, is truly something special. With its stylish urban interior, top-notch craft beer, and knowledgeable staff, you’re in the best. Sip your way through the beer list—you’ll find some unique flavors in their standard and seasonal brews on tap. Favorites include Downward Spiral, an IPA with tropical citrus and resin notes, the LeDuc, a balanced red IPA with notes of warm caramel, and Townie, a crisp balanced Kolsch-Style Ale with subtle notes of fruit. After a day dedicated to shredding the gnar at Welch Village, there’s no better place for a beer lover to spend the night (or afternoon) at than Spiral Brewery!

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-apres-ski-activities-in-minnesota http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-apres-ski-activities-in-minnesota Mon, 04 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0600
10 Best Ski Destinations for Families in Minnesota In spite of its Midwest location, Minnesota is graced with plenty of terrain primed for downhill skiing and snowboarding. In winter, families flock to the slopes and local ski areas to spend the day, or even a whole vacation, enjoying the rush of outdoor recreation in the winter. Here are our favorite ski destinations in the state.  

Lutsen, on Minnesota’s North Shore is one of the Midwest’s largest ski resorts. It spans four mountains in the Sawbill range and boasts more vertical feet and longer runs than any other ski area in the state. Nearly 100 runs, serviced by lifts and gondolas, multiple lodging and dining options, and sweeping Lake Superior views make Lutsen an awesome spot for a family getaway.

Workout today: skiing at @lutsenmountains! โ›ท #goingtobesoretomorrow #skibums

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Families from the Twin Cities who want a great day—or even a few hours—of skiing don’t have to go very far. Hyland Hills, in Hyland Lake Park Reserve, offers the best skiing in the inner metro. Hyland’s runs may not be the longest or tallest, but the area offers excellent grooming and challenging terrain, as well as lighted slopes for night skiing.

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Spirit Mountain is two hours closer to the Twin Cities than Lutsen but offers almost as much vertical, as well as the Midwest’s largest terrain park. Snow tubing, fat tire mountain biking—accessible by lift—and 22 runs will keep a family busy all day or all weekend long.

Afton Alps, a Vail Resorts property, is the largest ski area within 50 miles of the Twin Cities. It’s 300 acres of rolling St. Croix Valley bluffs are home to four terrain parks, 18 lifts, and almost 50 runs. Frequent weekend entertainment, lesson, rentals, and night skiing are all available.

Giants Ridge is located on the Iron Range, on the edge of both the Chippewa and Superior National Forests. This family-friendly resort boasts a handful of terrain parks, ski-in, ski-out lodging, snow tubing, and 35 lift-serviced runs. Rentals and lessons are available.

First day at the ridge. Cant wait for the new high speed lifts.

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Wild Mountain is located just north of Taylors Falls, about 45 minutes from St. Paul, in the St. Croix River Valley. More than 25 runs, a snow tubing hill, and four terrain parks are spread across more than 100 acres of river bluffs. A chalet with regular entertainment, night skiing, lessons, and equipment rentals will make sure the whole family is having fun.

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All smiles for tubing days :)

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One of the few bowls in Minnesota, Coffe Mill packs 10 runs and three lifts into 28 mostly-vertical acres on the shoulders of a coulee. The 425 vertical feet and spectacular Mississippi River views make for an exciting day on the slopes for families in Southeastern Minnesota. Snow tubing, lessons, and if it’s your thing, race training are all available at Coffee Mill.

For families who head up to the Brainerd Lakes Area during the winter months, Mt. Ski Gull’s 10 runs and four terrain parks make for a great way to get outside and enjoy the weather. Close to all the major Gull Lake Resorts, as well as Breezy Point, it’s hard to argue with Mount Ski Gull’s location.

Loving my Christmas present! #armadaskis #freshsnow #northface

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Welch Village is located equidistant from both Rochester and the Twin Cities, along 140 acres of Cannon River valley bluffs. Two chalets, two terrain parks and nine chair lifts service the ski areas 60 runs and 360 feet of vertical. Regular entertainment, lessons, and rentals will help enhance your family’s enjoyment.

Skiings pretty fun with these losers

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Families in south-central Minnesota can get their snow on at Mount Kato in Mankato. All of its 19 runs are serviced by snowmaking and eight chair lifts. In addition to a snow tubing hill, there are four terrain parks, a chalet with food and a bar, and a full-service rental shop.

Great night with great people โค๏ธ๐Ÿ‚ #mountkato #snowboarding

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-ski-destinations-for-families-in-minnesota http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-ski-destinations-for-families-in-minnesota Fri, 01 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0600
10 Best Ski and Snowboard Stores in Minnesota Minnesota is a state blessed with plenty of snow, making winter sports a favorite among its locals. This winter, if you’re looking to strap on a pair of skis or hop on a snowboard, make sure you’re prepared!  From boots and pants to goggles and gloves, check out the very best ski and snowboard stores in Minnesota so you can hit the slopes safely and in style. 

Hoigaard’s has been supplying Minnesotans with ski and other winter equipment since 1895—the century before last! So clearly, when it comes to hitting the slopes, you’re not likely to find a retailer with more outfitting experience. Alpine, Nordic, snowboarding or even snowshoes—if you want to get out on the snow, Hoigaard’s has got your back.

2018 @unionbindingco have arrived! @c3worldwide #stronger

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The Ski Hut has been on the same street corner in Duluth since 1955. Not only can they outfit you with any of your skiing, snowboarding, or winter apparel needs, they are also at the center of Duluth’s skiing community. So, whether you’re heading for Lutsen or Lester Park, stop into the Ski Hut for a tuneup or any gear that you may need.

Joe’s looks like a big box store, but they’re really just a beloved local outdoor store that is so good at what they do, they’ve been able to grow—with the support of a loyal customer base. And one of the reasons they’ve been so successful is their ski shop. Stop in to chat with one of their experienced specialists for any ski/snowboarding advice or gear you may need.

Tate said he is moving to the mountains to ski. #skicolorado #breckenridge

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Whether your home slope is Welch or Coffee Mill, you can get whatever you need to ride it right at Tyrol Ski & Sports in Rochester—the premier ski and board shop in Southeast Minnesota. In business since 1965, Tyrol can also help you out with Nordic skis or snowshoes to enjoy the many gorgeous trails in Minnesota’s Bluff Country.

When it comes to Nordic skiing, ski-skating, or telemark gear, you can’t do much better in Minnesota than Midwest Mountaineering. Widely known for their knowledgeable and experienced staff, they’ll have whatever you need to get our on the snow and enjoy all that winter has to offer in Minnesota.

Come check out the awesome new coats!!! @midwest_mountaineering

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With its downtown Stillwater store, 45 Degrees is located within half an hour of three top ski areas and five state parks. If you want to get out on the snow and enjoy the miles of trails and runs in the St. Croix River Valley, stop into 45 Degrees for the gear you’ll need. They even have rentals if you’re just in the area for a day or two. 

If you’re a serious skier—like a really serious skier—Pierce Skate and Ski is the shop for you. They specialize in testing, fitting, and tuning skis for maximum performance—all customized to your own feet and style. They work with all the state’s top athletes (Lindsey Vonn got her start here), coaches, and instructors to make sure their equipment performs at the highest levels. 

Rossi anyone? โ›ท๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ’ช

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Snow enthusiasts in Mankato know that the place to go for snowsports equipment in Mankato—whether skiing, snowboarding, or fat tire mountain biking—is Flying Penguin Outdoor Sports. They sponsor and get involved in local races, events, and fundraisers and do all they can to promote the local hill, Mount Kato.

Continental Ski & Bike carries all the winter gear you’ll need to get out onto the slopes and trails of the North Land. Whether you’re a downhill skier, a cross country enthusiast, or prefer both feet strapped securely to a board, you’ll find all the gear and advice you’ll need to enjoy winter on the North Shore at Continental Ski & Bike.

Can you feel it out there? It won't be long now! #skiseasoniscoming

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Hi Temp Snowsports & Watersports has been an East Metro fixture for four decades. Their experts can help set you up and fit you with top-quality skis and snowboards. Even better, if you have kids who are snow enthusiasts, their lease programs will help you keep up without having to buy new boards, skis, boots, and poles to keep up with the inches they put on every year. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-ski-and-snowboard-stores-in-minnesota http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-ski-and-snowboard-stores-in-minnesota Fri, 04 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0600
10 Best Winter Cabin Camping Spots in Minnesota Minnesota winters can be harsh, but they’re beautiful and should be experienced to their fullest. While tent camping is not the best idea during the winter season, cabin camping provides an excellent middleground. Experience the wonder of Minnesota during the snowy season all from the comfort of a cabin. Here are the 10 best winter cabin camping spots in the state.  

During cold weather months, you can stay in one of the heated, year-round camper cabins at Glacial Lakes State Park. The cabins are available Sunday through Thursday between November and March and daily throughout the rest of the year. The Glacial Erratic cabin offers views to Signalness Lake and easy access to Mardy’s Trail.

One down, eleven more to go! #AmyAndRoninCamp2017

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Cascade Lodge is a small, Up North-style resort that’s welcomed visitors for more than 90 years. The property is completely surrounded by spectacular Cascade River State Park and boasts sweeping views of Lake Superior. In addition to the lodge, there are several year-round cabins at the resort. We like Cabin 7 for its vistas, porch, and easy access to trails and the pub.

Big Bog State Recreation Area is home to the biggest peat bog (hence, the name) in the 48 contiguous United States, as well as incredible year-round birdwatching. Make a winter trip to espy a moose, gray wolf, or great gray owl. Book Cabin 5 for a little seclusion and Tamarac River views.

Not all winter cabin stays have to be rustic. In fact, some can be downright fancy. Take Kavanaugh’s Sylvan Lake Resort, for example. Located in the heart of the Brainerd Lakes area, Kavanaugh’s cabins are all waterfront properties with easy access to cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowmobiling, and ice fishing. Or you can just cozy up by the fireplace.

If you’re visiting Flandrau State Park during the winter, why not make a weekend of it? The bottomlands of the Big Cottonwood River offer excellent cross-country skiing and the heated Hackberry Haven cabin will keep you cozy and warm, Thursday through Sunday.

If you want to explore Minnesota’s Bluff Country this winter, head over to Cedar Valley Resort. This family resort is located just outside the gorgeous town of Lanesboro and has 11 cabins available for rent. Cross-country skiing, fat biking, and some of the state’s best trout fishing are all within easy reach of the resort.

Jay Cooke State Park, located just south of Duluth, has five year-round cabins available for rental. You wouldn’t suspect that this wild place, stretched along the banks of the thundering St. Louis River, is just minutes from Spirit Mountain ski area, Lake Superior, and the gateway to the North Shore. We like the seclusion and trail access that the Gabbro cabin offers.

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Little overnight gear test with the boys. #nowrongweather

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There are four year-round camper cabins in Lake Carlos State Park. Available Thursday through Sunday during the winter, a cabin will ensure that you stay toasty during your visit to the park. The Eagle Aerie Cabin affords easy access to cross country and snowmobile trails, as well as Lake Carlos itself.

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park makes for a fun-filled winter getaway. Not only is it home to some of the best cross-country ski trails in the park system, it also boasts an awesome sledding hill for those who prefer a faster ride. Cabin 5 offers great trail access and is within easy hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing distance of the Rum River and Ogechie Lake. 

If you’re looking for winter lodging that isn’t quite a tent and isn’t quite a cabin, book one of the year-round yurts at Cuyuna Country Recreation Area. The wood-heated, canvas-walled yurts will keep you cozy in the cold while creating a more rustic experience than that of a cabin. Don’t forget your Nordic skis and fat bike—miles of groomed trails cross-cross Cuyuna Country.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-winter-cabin-camping-spots-in-minnesota http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-winter-cabin-camping-spots-in-minnesota Fri, 04 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0600
Best Winter Weekend Getaway in Afton State Park Minnesota plays host to some fierce winters, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from getting outdoors. Stretching across 1,600 acres, Afton State Park is a beautiful place to explore when the seasons change. From snowshoeing to fat tire biking, here’s how to enjoy a winter weekend getaway at Afton State Park to its fullest.  

Afton State Park is a backpack-only campground (for tents, anyway) that is open year-round. This is a favorite park to go camping at due to the peaceful nature to the area, as well as the opportunities that are right at the park. Skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and so much more are among the many activities that draw people in. If you don’t feel like pitching your tent in the snow, reserve one of the park’s yurts or camper cabins for the weekend. 

Get ready for some amazing sights; this trail boasts beautiful overlooks of the river valley. You’ll follow along the St. Croix River parallel to an older in-active railroad grade. After passing though a forest, picnic area, two railroad bridges, you’ll find a trail leading to the top f the bluff. One way will take you just under a mile and a half, with some decent elevation changes to get your blood pumping. The views are certainly worth it.

Afton Alps Ski Resort is adjacent to Afton State Park. With its 48 trails, 18 lifts, four terrain parks, and almost 300 acres of skiable land, the resort is the largest ski area within 100 miles of the Twin Cities metro. On weekends, there is often live music and other entertainment at the chalet. It’s a perfect place to warm up before heading back to your campsite.

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Afton State Park sits right on the shore of one of the state’s most diverse fisheries: The St. Croix River. Known for its smallmouth bass and monster catfish, anglers have also pulled out everything from monster brown trout to muskies, walleyes and sturgeon. With the colder water, the big fish are going to be feeding hard in order to make it through the winter. The river will eventually freeze, but then you can head upriver toward Bayport and ice fish.

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In Minnesota, Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) are open to public hunting. Gores Pool No. 3 WMA is more than 7,000 acres of huntable land, marshes and backwaters along the Mississippi River. About a 30-mile or so drive from Afton State Park, Gores Pool is a great spot to hunt deer, small game, forest upland birds, pheasants, waterfowl, turkey, and doves. Make sure you have proper permits and are knowledgeable in Minnesota’s hunting laws

Snowmobiling enthusiasts can bring their sleds and hook up with the Washington County Star Trail just minutes outside the park entrance. The 140 miles of trail are groomed and maintained by a consortium of local clubs. A feeder trail in the nearby town of Afton will get you access to Star Trail while offering plenty of parking and gas.

There are plenty of awesome cross-country skiing opportunities within Afton State Park, like the 3.8-mile Prairie Loop. However, nearby Lake Elmo Park Reserve also offers many, many miles of groomed ski trails—both skate and classic—for all levels of ability. The reserve also offers plowed hiking trails and groomed snowshoeing opportunities. Since you’ll be in the area, grab brunch or dinner at the Lake Elmo Inn.

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A winter hiking trail stretches from the Visitor Center/South Camp Area parking lot to the Deer Valley Loop snowshoe trail head. You’ll hike for about a mile, along the tree-lined river bluffs and across the restored tallgrass prairie area, to the trailhead. With the return trip, you’ll get a couple miles in, which, in the winter cold, is probably enough for most folks.

Thinking about bringing your fat bike along for some winter riding? Head up to the trailhead near the old railroad depot in Stillwater, a St. Croix River town a few miles north of Afton State Park and hop onto Brown’s Creek State Trail. The trail is only about six miles each way, but it connects to the 18-mile Gateway Trail, which you can ride all the way into St. Paul, or also to the St. Croix crossing trail, which will get you over to the Wisconsin side of the river. So, start pedaling and turn around when you’re ready. Fuel up, before or after, with some belly-warming bourbon and Southern comfort food at Pearl and the Thief.

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If you don’t feel like camping or staying in one of the park’s cabins—or you just want some warm food and drink in your belly—pop over to the Afton House Inn, just minutes north of the park. The historic hostelry and eatery is one of the oldest in the state and oozes with traditional elegance. Exquisite food and perfectly-prepared cocktails will surely make you dread the dark, cold hike back to your tent.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/best-winter-weekend-getaway-in-afton-state-park http://stepoutside.org/article/best-winter-weekend-getaway-in-afton-state-park Mon, 10 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0600
5 Cool Spots for ATV Off-Roading in Minnesota Minnesota is widely regarded as one of the best trail states in the country. Folks who love to off-road will be ecstatic to learn that more than 1,000 miles of the state’s trails are open to ATVs. Whatever terrain you crave, Minnesota is sure to have a trail that will tickle your off-road fancy. Here’s a handful of our favorites.

The Spider Lake Trails area was voted the “Best ATV Trail” in the state by viewers of Twin Cities CBS affiliate, WCCO—and for good reason. The 26 miles of trails trace the shorelines of lakes and ponds and trek along ridgelines as they traverse the forests northwest of the Brainerd Lakes area. The combination of smooth, sandy trails and rocky, hilly tracks makes Spider Lake Trails a perfect place for beginning ATV riders, as well as more experienced off-roaders. Unlike most of Minnesota’s ATV trails, Spider Lake is open year-round. A trail permit is required.

Does it really matter if it rains when you can make your niece smile this big?

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The Fourtown-Grygla Trail, named for the two towns in Northwestern Minnesota where it can be can be accessed, is 170 miles of easy-to-ride but varying terrain. The trail system is privately maintained by a local club but most of the rights-of-way are on Beltrami County land, trails, and roads. The trails run past fields and farmland, along streams, and through forested areas. The trail system is relatively level throughout and offers few obstacles, making for suitable riding for everyone. A trail permit may be required for some parts of the system.

The Northwoods Regional ATV Trail System contains more than 200 miles of uninterrupted trails designed for minimal environmental impact. The well-maintained trails wind past lakes and rivers, along streams, through swamps lined with ashes and willows, and across boggy oak savannahs. The area the system covers is the size of the state of Delaware and encompasses oak and maple forests, pine growths, and stands of birch and aspens. Six Aitkin County communities are connected with the trail and welcoming to off-road ATV riders. Trail permits are required.

More than 100 miles of connected trails winding across two counties and through several state forests give the Forest Riders Trail its name. The terrain varies from easy to moderately difficult as the trails leave smooth and flat ground into rougher, more hilly sections. Lakes and streams, and marshes and ponds punctuate the pine and hardwood forests that the trails wind through. Camping is available in Two Inlets State Forest and Itasca State Park is nearby. A private club maintains this public trail system, and permits are required.

At only 13 miles, the Snake Creek Trail in Southeast Minnesota is relatively short—but what it lacks in length it makes up for in scenery. The trail climbs 300 vertical feet as it ascends the Mississippi River bluffs along the Snake Creek valley in the Richard J. Dover Memorial Hardwood State Forest. The trail is generally easy riding but exposed bedrock and limestone outcroppings offer a bit of a challenge along some portions of the trail. Make time to stop at the scenic overlooks along the trail and enjoy the vistas across Southeast Minnesota’s Blufflands and the Mississippi River Valley. The trail is maintained by the DNR and permits are required. 

*Note: Age restrictions, special licenses, and other requirements for off highway vehicles vary from state to state. Before heading out on your OHV, please consult your local regulations.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-cool-spots-for-atv-offroading-in-minnesota http://stepoutside.org/article/5-cool-spots-for-atv-offroading-in-minnesota Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Stunning Foliage Hikes in Minnesota Autumn is coming, and autumn in the North Star State is nothing short of stunning. Hiking amidst the color bursts of foliage is one of the best ways to enjoy Minnesota’s fall colors. Here are a handful of our favorite hikes!  

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park contains one of the last remnants of the Big Woods—a huge deciduous forest that once covered southern Minnesota—in the state. This means oaks, maples, and basswoods that burst into blossoms of red, orange, and gold when the weather starts to turn cold. Start with the White Oak Trail from the trailhead, then take the Maplewood Loop counterclockwise until you connect with the basswood Trail. When you hit the Fox Trail, take it north and cap off your hike with a walk around the Hidden Falls Trail Loop, where you’ll be treated with a waterfall and an easy stroll back to the trailhead.

Moose Lake is located between Duluth and Hinckley, not far from Interstate 35. This easily-accessible park, at just over 1,200 acres, is relatively small. But shoreline on Moosehead and Echo Lakes, as well as several ponds within the park, create gorgeous water vistas. Combine this with mature stands of aspen, mixed with maple, birch, and basswood, and the fall palette paints the ponds like watercolors. Start on the Wildlife Pond Trail to take advantage of views of the fall colors over water, then head onto the Rolling Hills Trail and complete the loop for some autumn tree bathing. The changes in elevation are moderate at worst, and a portion of the trails are paved for easy accessibility. 

Twin Cities folks looking for a nearby foliage fix should head southwest to the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area and the Minnesota Valley State Trail, which snakes through the area, following the course of the Minnesota River. In places, the river valley can be five miles wide and as deep as 300 feet. In autumn months, the floodplain forests and bluff top oak savannas explode with colors, surrounding you on all sides with festive foliage. If you prefer a paved trail, hike the portion between Shakopee and Chaska. The trail continues from Chaska to Belle Plaine with a natural surface and also connects with the Louisville Swamp District of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

In Western Minnesota, head over to Maplewood State Park to enjoy some of the state’s finest fall foliage. As the park’s name implies, it is home to a healthy hardwood forest of mostly maple trees. Basswood and oak lend support to the maples’ lead role and create a dazzling display of colors over the park’s hills and valleys, reflecting across its clear, cool lakes. An extensive trail system enables you to take advantage of the vistas and bathe in the autumn colors. From the trailhead, set out on the Ironwood Trail. The changes in elevation and views along and across Lake Lida, as well as Beaver, Field, and Andrew Lakes, punctuate the colors and enhance the vibrancy of the fall foliage in the park.

In a transition zone where hardwood forests and oak savannas meet the conifers of the Great North Woods, Wild River State Park is perfectly situated to highlight all the stunning glory that fall foliage in Minnesota has to offer. Soaring views down the St. Croix River valley enhance the experience and drama of the park’s vistas. The best foliage views take advantage of the valley’s bluffs. The Old Logging Trail and Deer Creek Loop follow the bluff lines above the St. Croix and offer forested vistas for miles downriver and across the valley to Wisconsin. For a more immersive foliage experience, hike the Trillium Trail and connect with the Sunrise Trail.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-stunning-foliage-hikes-in-minnesota http://stepoutside.org/article/5-stunning-foliage-hikes-in-minnesota Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
ATV Off-Roading Adventure at Soo Line South Trail Minnesota has more than 1,000 miles of state-designated ATV trails that cover all sorts of terrain, from deep North Woods forest to rolling prarie landscapes. With all these trails to choose from, it’s hard to pick out just one on which to spend a day riding. But there is one trail that covers more than 100 diagonal miles in a southwesterly/northeasterly direction, crossing wetlands, passing through state forests and parks, skirting dozens of streams, rivers and lakes: The Soo Line South Trail. Having so much to see and do on a single trail helps to make for a perfect day on your ATV.

Get an early start toward the trailhead, which is located just north of Royalton on US-10. On your way, stop in at the Old Creamery Café in Rice for coffee and a breakfast meal that will fuel your stamina for the trail. The Old Creamery has been a community fixture for more than 30 years and is a favorite among both locals and tourists. Located in a former dairy creamery (hence the name), the café serves up scratch-made dishes seven days a week. Try one of their sunrise steams—served with eggs and toast—or a three-egg, build-your-own omelet. They open at 6:30 a.m. every day but Sunday, when they start serving at 7 a.m.

If you travel the length of the Soo Line South Trail from the trailhead near Royalton, you’ll traverse several Minnesota counties, and more than 100 miles, before you reach the Wisconsin border. The Soo Line Trail, itself, is an easy ride with few challenges, making it a great ride for riders of all skill levels. Experienced riders looking for more of a challenge needn’t fret, though. There are several connected loops along the way that offer more technical off-roading experiences. Look for the Foxy Loop Trail, the Red Top Trails, the Solana Loop, and the Soo Pits Trails, as you make your way northeast, past the Rum River and Solana State Forests, Father Hennepin and Moose Lake State Parks, as well as the edge of Mille Lacs Lake—one of the state’s biggest. Contact the Minnesota DNR for a trail pass.

After you get to the trailhead, park, unload your ATVs, and ride the first 30 miles or so, you’ll find yourself in Mille Lacs Lake country. You may not see the big round monster in the middle of Minnesota, but you’ll feel its presence on your left as you ride through the flat, reedy wetlands, past smaller lakes and ponds that fringe it. You may also be hungry. The Farm Market Café is located just off the trail in Onamia, and it’s a great place to grab lunch, whether you plan to eat it in the restaurant or to take it with you for a picnic farther up the trail. The café is owned by producers and specializes in delicious fare made from locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients. The homemade chicken and noodles will keep you warm all day.

As you ride through Moose Lake, be sure to visit the Moose Lake Depot & Fires of 1918 Museum. A former Soo Line Depot (which is why it’s located so close to the trail), the museum recounts the history of the area’s railroads, and displays several period pieces from the early 20th century. The museum also memorializes the devastating forest fires of 1918, which burned a quarter-million acres, destroyed 38 towns, and killed 453 people. This event permanently scarred a large part of Northeast Minnesota and is worth learning a little more about.

After passing through Moose Lake, take a short, northward detour on County 13 toward Hanging Horn Lake and the lakeside resort that shares its name. This is the place where you’ll relax with the sunset, shake off some of the trail dust, then settle in and wake up with gorgeous North Woods views. The resort has a restaurant where you can relax and replenish after a full day on the trail. A former youth camp, the resort offers hiking trails and a swimming beach (in season, of course) where you can get your land legs back and stretch out your body. In the morning you can do it all again—in the other direction.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/atv-offroading-adventure-at-soo-line-south-trail http://stepoutside.org/article/atv-offroading-adventure-at-soo-line-south-trail Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Best Fishing Spots in Minnesota In Minnesota, fishing is a very big deal. Every year, the opening of walleye season (which almost always falls on Mothers Day weekend) has folks lined up, ready to put in their boats at midnight. Anglers will never tell you their favorite honey spots, but here are some of the best places to drop a line in Minnesota! 

Mille Lacs Lake in North Central Minnesota is famous for its walleye and muskie fishing. A popular, year-round angling destination—in winter, it’s home to one of the world’s biggest collections of ice fishing shanties—Mille Lacs used to the be the first lake that walleye anglers would rush to when the season opened. Its popularity, however, has stressed the walleye population in the lake. In order to manage the fishery, the DNR occasionally imposes special regulations. For example, in 2017, anglers could only target walleye for catch-and-release. But what about folks who want to bring home a trophy? There are, of course, huge muskies and hard-fighting northern pikes in the lake—and plenty of guides who’ll show you where they are—but smallmouth bass are the recent stars of the show. Bassmaster Magazine ranked the lake as one of the 10 best smallmouth bass fisheries in the country, and USA Today listed it among “America’s [25] best bass fishing lakes and ponds.” 

More than 60 species of fish have been documented in the St. Croix River, from Taylor’s Falls, Minnesota, to its confluence with the Mississippi River. Anglers looking for walleye will want to concentrate their efforts in the lower stretches of the river, below Stillwater, where the species has above-average abundance. The minimum length for keepers on the St. Croix is 15 inches. If you’re targeting hard-fighting smallmouth bass, or hunting river monsters like lake sturgeon or catfish, focus your angling efforts on the stretch of river north of Stillwater. In order to prevent the proliferation of invasive species upstream, the National Park Service does not allow upstream boat traffic above the mile 29.5 (the Arcola sandbar) checkpoint. Boat anglers are better served to launch upriver and work their way downstream.

Lake Pepin is a natural widening of the Mississippi River that stretches for 21 miles where more than 80 species of fish have be recorded. Among these are healthy and abundant populations of walleye, sauger (a tasty relative of the walleye), and northern pike. Sport anglers will enjoy the bass fishing on Lake Pepin, which hosts good populations of largemouth, smallmouth, and white bass. Abundant panfish and crappies will keep your lines as busy as you want them to be if you’re just fishing for fun. The lake stretches south from Red Wing, Minnesota, to a point across from Alma, Wisconsin.

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While Minnesota anglers are definitely walleye-centric, there is another fishing opportunity that shouldn’t be ignored: Brown trout. The trout streams of Southeast Minnesota are often underutilized, which means that the populations are solid and larger fish are abundant. One of the best places to target Minnesota’s browns is in the South Branch of the Root River. Because it’s a wider river that’s tracked by the paved Root River Trail, access to the water is excellent and and fly anglers have plenty of room for casting. Trout fishing is best in the western reaches of the river (and requires a current trout stamp). There’s more to the Root River than trout, though, smallmouth and rock bass, as well as channel catfish inhabit the streams pools. 

Twin Cities anglers who don’t want to travel too far for awesome walleye fishing head to Bald Eagle Lake in the Northeast Metro. The lake is known for its walleye but also has good populations of northern pike, muskies, and largemouth bass—including some lunkers. Kids and anglers who enjoy targeting panfish will not be disappointed in Bald Eagle Lake’s abundant sunnies. Despite its size, access to the lake is pretty limited, which can make for crowded launches. There’s public access and a fishing pier at the county park and also a boat ramp at a bait shop on the north end of the lake. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-best-fishing-spots-in-minnesota http://stepoutside.org/article/5-best-fishing-spots-in-minnesota Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Perfect Fall Camping Spots in Minnesota Autumn in Minnesota is gorgeous. One of the best ways to get out and enjoy what fall has to offer before winter arrives is to find a beautiful campsite among the trees and bathe in the colors. Add a water view to the foliage to make things even better. Here are a handful of our favorite places to camp in the fall!  

To sleep among some of the most picturesque fall foliage in Minnesota, head to Whitewater State Park in Southeast Minnesota’s Bluff Country. Limestone cliff faces tower over the Whitewater River and Trout Run Creek as they run through deep, forested ravines. The hardwoods in the park burst into a stunning array of reds, golds, and oranges in the autumn. Try and book one of the 10 riverfront sites in the campground to maximize your views or to have a go at the native brook trout that inhabit the park’s streams. A special trout stamp is required if you do decide to fish for them. Hiking in the park is gorgeous, but several of the trails can be challenging, so be sure to bring sturdy shoes or boots.

If you prefer to enjoy your autumn with a little more solitude than that offered by larger campgrounds, Silver Island Lake Campground in the Superior National Forest offers an experience somewhere in between car camping and a backcountry hike-in site. The campground has only eight sites, strung along the shore of Silver Island Lake among the fall-golden aspens, birches, and poplars. Each site has a fire ring and a picnic table. There is a vault toilet, and that’s it. There’s no electricity, potable water, or other people (except for those in the other seven sites) for miles. Be prepared to rough it from your car. This means you’ll need to bring your own drinking water or treat the water from the lake. There are black bears in the forest, so take necessary precautions with food storage! 

Kruger Campground is pretty much ground-zero for fall foliage in Minnesota. The campground is located among the Mississippi River bluffs, near the mouth of the Zumbro River in the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest. The steep, forested bluffs, deep ravines, and views up and down the valleys make Kruger an awesome spot for fall camping and hiking. Because it’s a state forest campground—rather than a state park campground—sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. On the other hand, the campground is also smaller and, therefore, much less crowded than typical park campgrounds. The campground is located near a stream, but take advantage of the nearby hiking trails to see the gorgeous river views in the forest.

The Nemadji State Forest is part of a transition zone where hardwood forests of Southern Minnesota begin to give way to the aspens, birches, and balsams of the Great North Woods. This means that fall camping on the shore of Pickerel Lake in Gafvert Campground is spectacular. The Nemadji State Forest is in a sparsely populated part of the state, and a little off the beaten path, so chances are good that you’ll be able to score a site with a water view in the fall. Hike or bike the Willard Munger State Trail to take in all the beauty that autumn in Minnesota has to offer. There is a popular grouse hunting area nearby, so if you’re not a hunter, be aware that you may be sharing the forest with them in the fall.

Prepare to be blown away by some truly magnificent waterfalls. Gooseberry Fall State Park has 69 drive-in sites (no electric), three pull-through sites, as well as two wheelchair-accessible sites, and three group campsites. The RV length limit is 40 feet. On the grounds, you’ll find showers and flush toilets, but these are only available until late October as the water is turned off. Although, vault toilets are available year-round. At the park, you’ll find hiking trails, biking trails, and more. The visitor center includes bathrooms, vending machines, interpretive displays, a nature store, a video wall and theater, and more. Grab some firewood at the visitor center, too, for a cozy campfire to end your crisp days at Gooseberry Falls. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-perfect-fall-camping-spots-in-minnesota http://stepoutside.org/article/5-perfect-fall-camping-spots-in-minnesota Tue, 30 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in Minnesota Fishing is serious business in Minnesota. And serious anglers require serious tackle—as well as their favorite bait for the fish they’re targeting. That’s why bait and tackle shops are beloved institutions in the North Star State. The proprietors know their home waters, what’s biting, and what you need to catch them. These are our favorite bait and tackle shops in Minnesota.

Recently voted the state’s favorite bait shop, Full Stringer Bait & Tackle has everything you need to tackle the big walleye, muskies, and pike on Leech Lake. This mom-and-pop shop carries any kind of live bait that you’d need, artificially, lures, rods, reels, and of course, ice.  

Folks looking to hit the lakes in the North Metro or the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, should stop by Vados Bait Express on the way. A Twin Cities institution for more than six decades, Vados will likely have whatever you need to hook the fish you’re looking for—plus, you can pre-order your bait online.

If you’re going to fish Shagawa, Burntside, Snowbank—or head into the Boundary Waters with your rod and reel—be sure to stop by Babes Bait and Tackle in Ely. They’ll hook you up with whatever you need to catch the area’s walleye, smallmouth bass, and lake trout.

Making a bait run!! Time to fish! ๐ŸŸ๐ŸŸ๐ŸŸ #Minnesota #fishing #ely #boundarywaters

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Big B’s Bait & Tackle is owned by a pro angler who has more than a decade of competitive walleye tournament experience. So, if you need to know how to get on the fish in the West Metro—Minnetonka, Medicine, Bass Lakes, e.g.—stop by Big B’s for your bait, tackle, and fishing report.

If you’re looking to fish Lake Superior, Devil Track Lake, or the Bruce River, you’ll need some gear and some local knowledge. And the Beaver House in Grand Marais is the place to get it. To find it, all you need do is head into dowtown and stop at the first building with a giant, fiberglass walleye protruding from it.

Favorite storefront in GM #beaverhouse #grandmarais #mn

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Whether you’re looking for a trophy muskie or just a tasty shore lunch, stop in to Stop Light Bait, Tackle & Guns on your way to the lake or the nearby Mississippi River. They’ve got gear, live bait, fishing reports, and whole lot of central Minnesota local knowledge to help you get the fish on your hook.

And even more Rapala's

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Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle has been a favorite among East Metro anglers—whether they’re heading to White Bear Lake for walleye, the St. Croix River for smallmouth, or the Mississippi River for whatever’s hitting—since 1981. Now located in Oakdale, stop in for advice on how to hook anything from sunnies to muskies.

Just in! Headlocks and Mattlocks! #musky #muskyfishing #muskylures #headlocks #mattlocks #lures #muskybaits #imnfishing #fishingminnesota

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Whether you’re heading to the Brainerd Lakes Area for a languid afternoon of summer walleye fishing or for the Ice Fishing Extravaganza—the world’s biggest ice fishing tournament—you’ll find all the bait, gear, and supplies you’ll need for a day out on the water, whether it’s liquid or frozen. 

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Mille Lacs Lake is probably the best known Minnesota lake among anglers. It’s a world-renowned walleye, muskie—and now—smallmouth bass fishery. When you head up to Mille Lacs, stop in at Tutts Bait and Tackle in Garrison to see what bite is on and what they’re hitting. 

Anglers hitting the water in the Detroit Lakes area can find all the supplies, gear, and bait that they’ll need at the venerable Quality Bait & Tackle in Detroit Lakes. The only full-service, fishing-only store in the area, Quality Bait has kept anglers on the water and on the fish for decades.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-bait-and-tackle-shops-in-minnesota http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-bait-and-tackle-shops-in-minnesota Mon, 29 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Archery Outfitters in Minnesota In a state that loves its outdoor activities—and hunting in particular—archery is important. Whether you’re an experienced bow hunter or a novice who loves hitting bullseyes on the range, you’ll need the right equipment. These are our favorite archery outfitters in Minnesota.

Folks in central Minnesota can find bows, arrows, tips, strings, gloves, and any other archery equipment they may need at Archery Country. With three stores in Brainerd, Waite Park, and Rogers, Archery Country had just about anything an archer would need, whether for hunting or competition.

#Americanbadass #matthews #archery @archerycountry #365archery #katniss #katnisseverdeen

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Bwana Archery in Little Canada is most likely the North Star State’s premier archery gear store. With deep knowledge and experience, Bwana equips archers across the state and, via the Internet, around the world. They carry many brands, including compound, recurve, and crossbows, and even host archery leagues on their indoor range.

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Archery this weekend for sure๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿป #archery #archerygirl #bowandarrows

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For more than three decades, Chalstrom’s Archery has been serving archers in the North Land. They are a full-service shop, offering bow sales, repair, replacement, and gear. They sell a full range of bows, arrows, and tips, as well as releases, targets, and sights. 

Mindy is also Katniss. And she โค๏ธ France apparently.

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Wild River Archery will not only sell you a bow and all the equipment you need to get started, they’ll teach you how to use it. They have an indoor range, offer beginner classes, and host leagues of all types. In addition to sales, they also service all compound bows and crossbows. 

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Morning training session here in MN with Jeremiah. Check out my story for more on today ๐ŸŽฏ #MyGodIsBig

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Oakridge Archery is a dealer for Bowtech products, as well as many other top archery brands. They sell bows and all the accessories you’ll need to get out into the field or onto one of their ranges. In addition, they host several leagues that compete during most months of year. 

Zero Degree Archery sells bows and arrows, as well as other archery needs and accessories. In addition, they also offer archery lessons and coaching for all levels of archers. If you need your compound bow, crossbow, or arrows serviced or sized, they can help you with that, too. 

Average Joes Archery is one of the largest archery shops in the state of Minnesota was voted by “Best Archery Range” WCCO viewers. It has a full line of archery products for both hunters and target archers, as well as several range options. In addition, they host classes, leagues, and even archery birthday parties.

It took a few tries, but I just about nailed a ๐ŸŽฏ Thanks for the adventure, Elizabeth!

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Full Draw is a full-service archery shop, complete with sales, service, and ranges in their newer 7,800-square-foot facility. In addition to 3D ranges, they also have a virtual Techno Hunt that allows you to travel the world, virtually hunting in many different location.

With three decades in the archery business, the Footed Shaft has the experience to help you find any traditional archery supplies—including used and collectible equipment—you may need, in person or online. In addition to their shop, they attend and sell merchandise at many shooting events throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Adrenaline Archery, located in Pine City, is a full-service archery pro shop that carries a complete line of bows, arrows, sights, strings, and other accessories. They also have a range and an archery simulator, where they host leagues throughout the year.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-archery-outfitters-in-minnesota http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-archery-outfitters-in-minnesota Mon, 29 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
8 Best Fall Activities in Minnesota Bright blue skies and deep blue waters form a perfect backdrop for the fiery fall reds, yellows and oranges in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Summer may be gone, but there’s still plenty to do in the Upper Midwest. These are our favorite fall activities in Minnesota.

There’s nothing that says autumn in Minnesota quite like heading out to an orchard and picking your own apples—and then warming up with a bonfire and a cup of hot cider. One of the best places to do so is Minnesota Harvest Orchard, near Jordan. Perched on a bluff in the Minnesota River valley, the orchard grows more than two dozen varieties of apples, offers hay rides, a petting zoo and regular events throughout the fall.

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In the fall, all the fish are biting in Minnesota. So, why not head to one of the state’s best fisheries—Lake of the Woods and Rainy River—to maximize your time. The fall walleye run on the Rainy lasts through October, and the big muskies and northern pike are always biting. Stay at the Wigwam Resort for an awesome experience and a depth of local knowledge.

When fall comes to the St. Croix River Valley, the bluffs explode in a kaleidoscope of colors. There’s no better way to see all of the St. Croix’s splendor than from the deck of a river boat. Stillwater River Boats (St. Croix Boat & Packet Co.) offers the most cruising options on the Lower St. Croix. Cruise packages mostly include an extravagant meal from their on-boat dining room.

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Hit this 42-mile multi-use trail for a gorgeous fall ride among the hardwood foliage in the Root River Valley. If you’re looking for a place to stay in the area, make the Stone Mill Hotel and Suites your basecamp. While you’re in Southeast Minnesota, be sure to take a side trip to Spring Grove and sample some of Rockfilter Distillery’s fine Minnesota whiskies.

As most everyone knows, fall is also Halloween season, so no list of fall activities would be complete without at least one scary entry. Few attractions combine the spirit of autumn with the scariness of Halloween like the Dead End Hayride near the town of Wyoming. Faint of heart? Maybe sit this one out.

Believe it or not, the biggest corn maze in the state is in the northern suburbs of the Metro. Every year, the Twin Cities Maze in Brooklyn Park carves a new design into their enormous corn field, so that you can solve the puzzle or simply get lost and enjoy an autumn afternoon in the crisp, Minnesota air.

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Explore the flooded forests of the Mississippi River’s backwaters and hidden channels or enjoy a sunset paddle with gorgeous fall foliage views up and down the river valley and across to Wisconsin. Broken Paddle Guiding can help get you on the water and even lead you on a tour of some of the state’s most gorgeous paddling places.

Participate in a guided hunting adventure with Autumn Antlers for whitetail deer, elk, stag, and more. This five-star hunting lodge offers hunter’s a multi-day package including food and bar, lodging, and a professional guide. Book a time with Autumn Antlers and have the best hunt of your life. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/8-best-fall-activities-in-minnesota http://stepoutside.org/article/8-best-fall-activities-in-minnesota Wed, 24 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Best Places to Fish in the Midwest This Fall Walleyes and a variety of salmon are on the autumn menu in the Midwest as anglers have a last chance to fish open water before the winter freeze starts to set in. Fishing for either species can be excellent; how the weather and the water temperatures line up are more critical where salmon are concerned, but the fall run extends well into November.

Walleyes aren’t so picky, and all the traditional waters such as the Mississippi River, Big Saint Germain Lake in Wisconsin, Otter Tail Lake in Minnesota and Great Lakes feeder streams give up tons of  ’eyes in the fall.

One Last Salmon Fling

The big attraction nowadays is king (chinook) salmon that make their fall spawning runs up rivers and creeks. Whether fishing from a small boat or a Great Lakes charter boat, latching on to a 20- or 30-pound king can quickly warm up an otherwise chilly fall day.

Hot Spots To Fish: Michigan’s Grand River, which empties into the eastern side of Michigan, is a prime destination for salmon. Getting Bit Guide Service (616-570-2946, gettingbitguideservice.com) in Grand Rapids is a good starting point. In fact, any port of call along Lake Michigan on either the east or west sides is likely to have plenty of knowledgeable salmon guides or charters. Fishing from jetties or piers – such as the famed McKinley Pier in Milwaukee – is also productive during the fall salmon runs.

In northwestern New York, the Salmon River lives up to its name through mid-October, but the run might linger into November in the Lake Ontario feeder, depending on the weather. Coho and steelheads also are in the mix too.

The Yankee Angler (315-963-2065, yankeeangler.com) in Pulaski, N.Y. keeps tabs on the fishing. In the big waters of Lake Ontario’s southern shore at Rochester, N.Y., give Reel Em In Sportfishing Charters (585-317-5325, reeleminsportfishing.com) a call.

Farther to the northwest, the waters and feeders of Lake Superior near Sault Ste. Marie are teeming with big salmon. One of the benefits here is that you can always slip in to the St. Mary’s River System to get away from those rough autumn nor’ westers. Live To Fish Charters (906-440-7797) can help make it happen.

New York rivers and inshore waters are teeming with big salmon in the fall.

Tackle You’ll Need: Salmon tackle and striped bass tackle (see above) are practically interchangeable. Fish might range from a few pounds to well over 20 pounds, and rods and reels should be in the medium- to-heavy range. A light- to-medium spinning outfit capable of holding a couple of hundred yards of 10- to 14-pound-test monofilament or 30- to 50-pound-test braid should do for most applications, especially when casting lures. Try the Okuma Epixor XT-20 with a matching rod.

Quick Tip: Just to hedge your bets, tie a foot-long section of 2x mono to your streamer hook and add a beadhead Prince nymph or similar pattern to the other end. When salmon are finicky, they might flash at a streamer, but not take it. Sometimes, a smaller mouthful such as a nymph trailer will seal the deal.

 

Best Lures/Bait: For the most part, spawn-run salmon hit spoons, crankbaits or roe bags out of reaction rather than hunger. Shiny lures, such as the Luhr-Jensen Twinky Rig behind a flasher, the Acme Kastmaster Spoon and a variety of soft-plastic swimbaits or hard crankbaits, will elicit strikes. Fly fishermen favor Dahlberg Divers, Wooly Buggers, Hex Nymphs and Glo Bugs.

Find the best fishing spots near you:

Find the best bait and tackle shops near you:

Walleyes Are Hungry and Willing

In similar fashion to bass, walleyes follow baitfish from the bigger lakes to feeder creeks and rivers with current.

Hot Spots To Fish: The Van Hook Arm of Lake Sakakawea (701-421-0360, vanhookguideservice.com) in North Dakota is a prime walleye destination, as is Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago (920-598-0586, walleyepatrol.com

Tackle You’ll Need: Power fishing it’s not. Though walleyes might fatten up to well over 10 pounds, 2- to 4-pound fish are more the rule. Depending on the average size of the fish, 4- to 10-pound-test monofilament or fluorocarbon will do.

For spinning enthusiasts, the Quantum Vapor PT with matching rod will work. If you prefer trolling to casting, or bouncing a weight and natural bait on the bottom, try a baitcasting outfit such as a Fenwick/Pflueger Night Hawk or Iron Hawk combo.

Quick tip: Trolling at night with diving jerkbaits, such as the Storm Original ThunderStick or Lucky Craft Pointer 110, is a great way to catch walleyes. Troll in patterns from deep to shallow and back again, as the fish tend to relocate up and down drop-offs and channel runs depending on bait movement.

 

Best Lures/Bait: Leeches, nightcrawlers, minnows and everything from crankbaits to spinners will find favor with hungry fall walleyes. Top picks include: Rapala’s Shad Rap, Berkley’s Flicker Shad, Mepps’ Black Fury, Rapala’s Husky Jerk and Northland Fishing Tackle’s Forage Minnow Jigging Spoon.

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Photograph Courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources Walleyes weighing more than 10 pounds apiece are routinely caught in the fall, but most fish are "good eating size," averaging about 3 pounds. http://stepoutside.org/article/best-places-to-fish-in-the-midwest-this-fall http://stepoutside.org/article/best-places-to-fish-in-the-midwest-this-fall Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500