Step Outside - Minnesota WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - Minnesota 144 144 Sat, 21 Jul 2018 17:54:34 -0500 5 Best Dirt Motorcycle Trails in Minnesota In Minnesota, a state boasting some of the best trails in the country, there are plenty of amazing places to explore on a dirt bike. For enthusiasts looking to hit the dirt and go, Minnesota will offer a wealth of lush state forests and well-maintained OHV parks for a day of exhilaration. Here are our favorite trails in the state. 

Located just north of the Twin Cities, the Chengwatana State Forest’s off-highway motorcycle trails offer a variety of terrain for OHM riders of most any experience level. The trails are located near the state’s border with Wisconsin and curve along the confluence of the Kettle and St. Croix Rivers. The wooded trails afford riders gorgeous views of these wild and scenic rivers as the mount rises and descended gradually through the forest. Some tight curves make the trails a little more challenging, but the whole system can be carefully ridden by a novice. A trail permit is required.

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The trails in the Meeker County OHV Park wind through 40 acres of deciduous hardwoods west of the Twin Cities. In addition to a youth training area, the park also has restroom facilities and a shelter for picnicking or ducking out of inclement weather. Narrow trails with lots of curves that snake through elm, maple, ash, and oak trees make this OHV park particularly fun for off-highway motorcycles. Although the park is county-owned, it’s privately maintained by a riding club that recently completed a trail rehabilitation project in the park. Trail permits are required.

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Voted “Best ATV Trail” in the state by viewers of Twin Cities CBS affiliate, WCCO, the Spider Lake Trails area is also an awesome spot for off-highway motorcycles. Almost 30 miles of trails trace ridgelines, and curve along the shorelines of lakes and ponds in the forests and wetlands near the Brainerd Lakes area. The combination of graded, sandy trails and rocky, hilly tracks makes Spider Lake Trails a great place for novice bikers to hone their skills, while keeping experienced riders riders on their toes. Hardier riders can enjoy the trails in any season, as the Spider Lake area is open year-round. A trail permit is required.

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The 30-mile long Gandy Dancer Trail is by no means the most challenging off-highway motorcycle trail you’ll ride—it follows an abandoned railway grade—but it may well be the most beautiful. Starting in Danbury, Wisconsin, it crosses the St. Croix River and heads north into the Nemadji State Forest, skirting the Black Lake Bog Scientific and Natural Area. Pine forests and vast wetlands make this popular trail feel like it’s worlds away from civilization. Gray wolves, black bears, and bald eagles frequent the forests in the area. A permit is required to use this Minnesota DNR-maintained trail.

Out of its 53 total miles, 35 miles of the Straight Arrows Trail is dedicated single track for off-highway motorcycles. Open for year-round use, Straight Arrows combines some long straightaways with tight curves and sudden, steep hills that offer challenges for experienced OHM riders. The trails cut through deep stands of pine forests, track stream banks, and skirt the wetlands that make this part of the Minnesota unique. The trail is maintained by Pine County and the Straight Arrows Enduro Riders Motorcycle Club. A trail pass is required to ride Straight Arrows.

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5 Energizing Hikes in Minnesota Hiking is a wonderful way to get your heart pumping. As you hike with more frequency, you can up the ante by attempting to navigate longer, more challenging routes. The satisfaction of conquering a difficult trek combined with the gift of breathtaking views makes for a rewarding experience. Here are some of our favorite trails for an invigorating workout and energizing hike in Minnesota. 

The entrance to Banning State Park is so close to Interstate 35 that you’d be hard-pressed to believe that a heavily-wooded park with steep bluffs and several sets of class III-V rapids is there. But lucky for you, it is. Banning State Park is bisected by the Kettle River as it rushes down toward its mouth. The state-designated Wild and Scenic River has carved a steep, rocky gorge through the boreal forest. Wolf Creek, on its course to meet the Kettle River, hewed its own gorge through the forest’s sandstone bedrock. And the trail along Wolf Creek is steep, rocky, and gorgeous. Upland forest gives way to large, exposed boulders as the trail steepens. Take the four-mile loop from the trailhead, following the creek downstream to 20-foot Wolf Creek Falls, where the stream cascades into the river. Then head back upstream. If you want to add some distance and elevation to your hike, cut over to the Hell’s Gate Trail, which skirts the whitewater on the Kettle River, via the High Bluff Trail, which intersects with the Wolf Creek Trail less than half a mile from the falls.

Tettegouche State Park is well-known for its challenging terrain. Most trails in the park have a “difficult” rating from the DNR, except for those rated “most difficult.” Parts of the trail to Mt. Baldy Lookout have earned the latter designation. To get to the trail, enter the park from inland, parking at the lot on Lax Lake Road, just north of the lake itself. Then start hiking up. You’ll hike about a mile through pines, aspen, birch, and balsam, gaining almost 300 feet of elevation, before turning left to head for the summit. Once you hit the top of Mt. Baldy, rest and enjoy the view. Then take the trail down toward Tettegouche Camp on Mic Mac Lake. You’ll find drinking water there. Be sure to fill your water bottle before heading out toward Floating Bog Bay, skirting around Tettegouche Lake, taking in views of Cedar and Lax Lakes, before rejoining the trail to the parking lot. The hike is about four miles with an elevation gain of more than 400 feet before you start heading back down.

Park at the Willard Munger State Trail lot on the east side of the town of Carlton. Start hiking east on the paved Munger Trail until you come to trail intersection 27. Take a right onto the rugged Carlton Trail, which follows the big rapids of the St. Louis River as it slices through Jay Cooke State Park. More than three miles of steep, rocky terrain follow the river gorge to a swinging bridge that leads to the park’s headquarters. At this point, you can make a choice: Fill your water bottle and go back the way you came or fill your water bottle and take the paved Forbay Trail to Thomson Trail. Compared to the Carlton Trail, the Forbay and Thomson Trails traverse relatively easy terrain. The Thomson Trail intersects with the Munger Trail on the other side of the river from where you started. Head west on the Munger Trail to get back to the trailhead.

Don’t let the wide, mowed grass of the Prairie Overlook Trail fool you: Sure, it’ll be easy on your feet, but your thighs will be screaming before you’re done. Park at the trailhead in William O’Brien State Park, which is located just outside the Twin Cities on the St. Croix River. Take the Wetland Trail 1.2 miles uphill through oak savanna and prairie to the Prairie Overlook Trail loop. The 1.4-mile loop skirts a pond and enables you to see sweeping vistas across and down the St. Croix River Valley. The loop ends at the Woodland Edge Trail, which you’ll take along the bluff’s edge before heading back down to the trailhead. The entire hike is more than seven miles, with a lot of ups and downs as you traverse the river bluffs. Wear good shoes and being plenty of water, as you won’t have a chance to refill until you pass the Savanna Campground on the way back down.

Folks looking for a trail workout in Southeast Minnesota need to head over to the Reno Recreational Area and test their mettle against the steep bluffs of the Mississippi River Valley. Start from the horse campground on Hillside Road in Reno Township, and take the short trail straight up and over the bluff. Hang a left at the “T” then a right at the fork that will lead you switch-backing down through the hardwood forest to the Crooked Creek Valley for about a mile. Head up the next bluff, then follow ridgeline along the creek until you meet the Brownsville Trail and Sand Rock Point Forest Road. Turn left to follow the trail back down the creek until it meets up with another forest road at a gate. Continue heading downhill on the road until you run into Reno Trail near where it crosses Crooked Creek. Follow the Reno Trail back to where you started. This hike is nearly 10 miles with a lot of ups and downs—but also a lot of payoffs: Views across and down the Mississippi Valley and out over the Bluff Country of Southern Minnesota. Bring a daypack with lots of water and snacks. Wear sturdy shoes, as some of the trails can be tricky and there are rattlesnakes in the area.

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7 Best Motorsport Retailers and Rentals in Minnesota With more than 1,000 miles of public trails dedicated to off-roading—along with private ATV parks and snowmobile trails—Minnesota is an awesome place for outdoor motorsports enthusiasts. But it be can hard to hit those trails without some wheels beneath you. Whether you’re in the market for a new or used ATV or simply want to pick one up for a day or two, there are plenty of great places to get started with an off-road vehicle. Here are seven fantastic retailers and rental services in Minnesota.

Hilmerson Sports Center is one of the largest motorsports dealers in Central Minnesota—and does have the biggest indoor showroom. They maintain a good inventory of new and pre-owned ATVs from trusted brands like Yamaha, Kawasaki, Can-Am, and more. Whether you’re looking for a side-by-side or a standard model, you’re certain to find the ATV you’re looking for at Hilmerson Sports Center. They also full service for ATVs, as well.

Offroad Rentals is located in east-central Minnesota, near some of the state’s best off-road trail networks. They rent ATVs to folks who aren’t sure whether they’re ready to commit to a purchase or who don’t ride that often. Their ATVs are Polaris and Yamaha models, and all rental ATVs come with gas, helmets, and maps. They can also take you out on a guided ride if you want see the local sweet spots.

In the West Metro, Minneapolis Motorsports is the place to go for a new or used ATV. They carry a full line of Can-Am ATVs from multi-rider models to smaller models for beginning riders. They also have a full service department and can set you with all the accessories you need to be safe out on the trails. If you’re in the market for a personal watercraft, three-wheeled motorcycle, or snowmobile, Minneapolis Motorsports can hook you up there, as well.

Pure bliss #maverickx3 #canam #motorsportsmn #minneapolismotorsports #stbonimotorsports

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Whether you want to buy a new or pre-owned ATV—or just simply rent one for the day—Beaver Bay Sport Shop on the North Shore of Lake Superior can help you out. They sell and rent both Polaris and Can-Am models of ATVs. They service their rentals after every ride, so they’re extremely well-maintained. The shop is adjacent to the Silver Bay, Moose Walk, and Finland Trail Systems, so all you have to do is park in the Beaver Bay Sport Shop Lot, pack your lunch, and hit the trails.

If it’s got an engine and moves quickly over land, snow, or water, Power Lodge probably sells it, rents it, or both. When it comes to ATVs, though, they only sell them. But Power Lodge has a large inventory of both new and pre-owned ATVs from brands including Polaris, Yamaha, and Can-Am. They also offer a full range of services from tune-ups to winterization. 

My station for the day! open house

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Motor Sports of Willmar Superstore has a broad range of new and pre-owned ATVs in their inventory. You’ll find models from manufacturers including Polaris, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Honda, and Can-Am. You’ll also find accessories, clothing, and a full menu of services at Motor Sports of Willmar.

In southwest Minnesota (as well as Iowa and South Dakota), Action Sports is the place to go for new or used ATV models, parts, accessories, and services. Action Sports carries new models from Polaris, Yamaha, and Can-Am. And, of course, their pre-owned inventory is a little broader. 

NEW 2016 SLINGSHOT SL, only 40 miles. Don't miss this deal - only $19,700!!!

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9 Best Outdoor Festivals in Minnesota Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes (about 12,000 actually). It's also blessed with rugged Great Lakes shoreline, historic rivers and valleys, broad expanses of wild forest and sweeping prairies. So, shouldn't we celebrate all these great things? Of course we should! These are our favorite outdoor festivals in Minnesota.

Aquatennial, as the name implies, celebrates the lakes in the Twin Cities—a metro area renowned for its green spaces. The festival takes place in July, just as the weather is making folks think about splashing around in a lake. In addition to parades and one of the nation's biggest fireworks displays, you can get down and dirty in the Torchlight 5K and enjoy lawn games and activities. On the water, there will be canoe rides and historically, there has been a milk carton boat race, in which participants build a vessel and then attempt to complete a course before it sinks. CenterPoint Energy and Hennepin County Medical Center are sponsors of the event.

Folks in the historic logging town of Stillwater—the oldest city in Minnesota—also take to the streets and water in July during the annual Lumberjack festival. In addition to enjoying live music and tasty food, participants can join in lumberjack-inspired events like log rolling, race in the Downhill Derby—a soapbox car race for adults—or one of the running races that take place during the festival.

The biggest annual event in the little town of New London is its near-weeklong Water Days Celebration. In addition to the usual, awesome small-town festival fare—fireworks, a parade, a hog roast, community breakfast—there is usually a full slate of events like a tennis tournament, a bean bag tournament, a fishing tournament and even yoga classes. Cool down in the evenings at Goat Ridge Brewing Company

The Bike Duluth Festival, sponsored by Kraus Anderson, is annual event that celebrates the area's superb mountain bike opportunities. The August festival includes adventure rides, several races a kids course, bike games and a kids bike parade. Stroll through Expo Village with a local craft brew and check out product demos and booths from vendors like Trek, Specialized, the Ski Hut and Spirit Mountain

If you find yourself on in the Brainerd Lakes Area during August's dog days, then grab something to paddle—SUP, kayak, canoe—and hit the water for PaddlePalooza. The event is a five-mile, supported group paddle from Nisswa Lake to Zorbaz on Gull Lake. Stops are scheduled along the way—such as a barbecue and beverage break at Point Narrows Resort—and of course, there will be an end-of-paddle party at Zorbaz. Bent Paddle Brewing is usually on hand with some tasty beverages. Shuttles are available from Zorbaz to the put-in site. Need a rental? Hit up 46° North Adventure Co..

In September, when the weather has started to cool off a bit, mountain biking enthusiasts in the Twin Cities area head to the Wild Ride Mountain Bike Festival at Lebanon Hills Regional Park near Apple Valley. It’s a family-friendly event suitable for all levels of riders. You can demo bikes, build your skills, bone up on the latest gear, learn DIY bike repairs—and ride. Both competitive and relaxed rides are available to participants. Awesome food and beer are always on hand, as well.

Fall colors are a big deal in the North Star State. And some of the most spectacular colors in the state pop in the hardwood forests of the Mississippi River valley. Bluff Color Fest celebrates this foliage every October with five, 10, 15 and 20-mile trail runs, a five-mile hike and a disc golf tournament. Merriment ensues.

Minnesota is home to some spectacular megafauna, of which the moose is one. And every October, the fine folks of Grand Marais and greater Cook County celebrate moose mating season with the Moose Madness Family Festival. In addition to activities like a medallion hunt, runs and kids events, you can also get out into the great North Woods to try and get a moose of the festival’s namesake beast.

Another favorite participatory fall festival is Stillwater’s Harvest Fest, which is centered around huge pumpkins. But in addition to growing and weighing giant gourds, you’ll find a pie eating contest, kids activities, a chili cook-off and—the highlight—a pumpkin regatta. Folks square off in the Battle to Paddle to earn the privilege of paddling a giant, hollowed-out pumpkin in a race on the St. Croix River. And yes, by mid-October, the water is cold. Very cold.

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5 Best Fishing Holes 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 holes, 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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5 Best Birdwatching Hikes in Minnesota Minnesota is a birdwatcher’s paradise. The eastern hardwood forest, northern boreal forest, and tallgrass prairie biomes all converge in the state. The Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers are major flyways for migratory species. And thousands of lakes offer respite for waterfowl. With help from wildlife services and other agencies, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources established the Pine to Prairie International Birding Trail. And while it’s hundreds of miles long, there are plenty of excellent spots along the way to get out and explore. Here are some of our favorites.   

For birders who love owls, the Lost River State Forest—which is included in the Pine to Prairie International Bird Trail—is about as good as it gets. One of the things that makes the forest such excellent bird habitat is that its home to several fens and peat bogs, which can make hiking a bit of a challenge. The most accessible part of the forest is just south of the Canadian border. Drive north on MN-310. About 1.5 miles before the border, you’ll see an unpaved pullout on the west side of the road. Park there and follow the trail straight west toward the Sprague Creek Peatland Scientific and Natural Area. If you go late in the year, you can see northern hawk owls, sandhill cranes, whippoorwills, and several species of woodpeckers.

In the autumn, migrating raptors soar daily by the hundreds over Hawk Ridge in Duluth. This world-renowned location also draws birders and scientists by the hundreds to study the migrations from the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. In addition to many species of hawks and owls, birders can see ospreys, bald eagles, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and turkey vultures.

The 110-acre park has miles of hiking trails. For a good hike with the best birding potential, hike out along Skyline Parkway to its intersection with the Pine Woods Trail. Turn southwest onto the Pine Woods Trail to the Summit Ledges observation point. Hike counterclockwise on the Ridge Loop Trail until it meets Spruce Trail, then hike up to the Spruce Knob observation point. When you’re ready to head back, hit the Middle Trail back to the parking area. To see the trail map, check out the website

The Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge is an area where all the Eastern Hardwood Forest biome butts up against the tallgrass prairies. Rivers, wetlands, sedge meadows, and marshes make the refuge a crucial habitat for migratory birds, such as sandhill cranes and 200 other species, as they pass through Minnesota in the spring and fall. The best hiking trails for birders are the Blue Hill and Mahnomen Trails off of County 9, near the refuge headquarters. The Blue Hill Trail, west of the the headquarters, is the longer and more challenging of the two, but an intrepid birder could easily hike both in a day.

The Sax-Zim Bog is a somewhat-undefined area in Northern Minnesota that’s comprised of public and private lands. However, the unique habitat in this area attracts more than 240 bird species, which draws birders from across the country. The area is best known for winter birder as northern species move down to overwinter before heading north to Canada and the Arctic for the rest of the year. The northern owl species, such as the snowy, great gray, and northern hawk owls, get most of the attention at Sax-Zim. But dozens of migratory songbird species make the area musical in the spring. A good year-round bet for a hike is on the dirt track that heads east off McDavitt Road, about a mile and a half south of Zim Road. 

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In western Minnesota, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge is a birder’s bucket list item. Bald eagles, trumpeter swans, and golden-winged warblers are the stars of the show in this multi-biome habitat that consists of hardwood and coniferous forests punctuated with wetlands, three rivers, and bogs. Birders on foot should hit the North Country Hiking Trail. If you start at South Chippewa Lake, then head west and south toward Tamarac, Pine, and Mud Lakes before turning around and hiking back, you’ll maximize your birding opportunities in the refuge.

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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.

None of Minnesota’s North Shore parks offer camping cabins, but 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.

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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A beginner’s guide: Ice fishing Vin T. Sparano, as excerpted from Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia: Camping, Fishing, Hunting, Boating, Wilderness Survival, First Aid



Ice fishing differs greatly from open-water fishing, and it is a demanding sport. It requires an understanding of and an ability to cope with winter weather, knowledge of the cold-weather habits of the fish, and the use of an unusual assortment of gear, most of it unique to ice fishing.

There are two basic ice-fishing methods: tip-up fishing and jigging. In general, tip-ups are usually used on larger fish—pike, pickerel, walleyes, trout, and such—that prefer bait and require the angler to play the waiting game. Jigging is usually preferred for smaller fish that tend to school up—bluegills, perch, crappies, and the like. But these are merely generalizations, not hard-and-fast rules. For example, jigging (sometimes called chugging) is often quite productive on big lake trout and salmon in the Great Lakes. 

Also called tilts, these come in various styles, but they all perform two basic functions: they hold a baited line leading from a revolving-type reel spool, and they signal the bite of a fish. The most common type of tip-up consists of three strips of wood, each about 18 inches long. Two are cross pieces that form an X as they span the hole. The third piece is an upright; at its bottom end is attached a simple line-holding spool, while the upper end holds the signaling device. The signal is usually a piece of very flexible spring steel with a red (some anglers prefer black) flag on the end. After the hook is baited and lowered to the desired depth, the steel arm is “cocked”—bent over and down and hooked onto a “trigger.” When a fish strikes, an arm on the revolving spool releases the steel arm and it flies erect.

In this type of tip-up, the reel is positioned underwater. In other variations, the reel is positioned above the ice. Each type has its advantages. The above-the-ice reel can be more sensitively adjusted for light-biting fish, but the line tends to freeze on the reel once it gets wet. The underwater reel largely eliminates the problem of freezing, but the fisherman must remove the tip-up from the hole before he can grab the line.

Baits for tip-up fishing are usually live. In general, it pays to match the size of the bait to the size of the fish you’re after. Baits range from tiny maggots (often called mousies) and grubs for panfish, to worms and small minnows for walleyes, and up to 6-inch baitfish for pike. 

As done by ice fishermen, jigging is simply a method of imparting an up-and-down movement to a lure or bait. Jigging can be—and is—done with any sort of line-holding rod or stick. 

Some jigging rods—more appropriately called sticks—are simply pieces of wood 18 inches or so long, with U-shaped notches in each end. The line—10-pound-test monofilament is very popular—is wound lengthwise onto the stick around the U-shaped notches and is paid out as needed. There are other types of jigging sticks of varying designs, and many ice anglers use standard spinning or spincast rods or the butt half of a fly rod. 

Rods made specially for ice jigging are simple affairs consisting of a fiberglass tip section that is 2 or 3 feet long seated in a short butt. The butt may have a simple revolving-spool reel or merely a pair of heavy-wire projections around which the line is wound. The tip section may have two to four guides, including the tip guide. The shortness of such a rod lets the user fish up close to the hole and have better control over the lure or bait at the end of his line. 

There are many and varied jigging lures and baits, but flashiness is built into most of them. Others produce best when “sweetened” with bait. Two popular jigging lures are: an ungainly looking critter with a heavy body shaped and painted to resemble a baitfish, a hook at each end and a treble hook in the middle of its underside, and a line-tie ring in the middle of its upper surface; and a long, slim, three- or four-sided, silvery model with a treble hook at one end and a line-tie ring at the other. 

Jigging methods vary with the fisherman and with the fish being sought. However, a productive way to fish many jigging lures, especially flashier types, is to twitch the lure slightly and then jerk it suddenly upward with a quick upward movement of the arm. The proper interval between jerks is learned with experience. 

Popular jigging baits include a single perch eye (either impaled on a small hook or used to sweeten a tiny hair or rubber-bodied ice fly), worms, grubs, maggots, insect larvae, minnows, and cut bait (pieces of skin or flesh that are cut from the tail or body of such fish as smelt and perch). 

Jiggers tend to move around more than tip-up fishermen, boring holes in different areas until they find a productive spot. 

Like most other forms of fishing, ice angling requires some auxiliary equipment. Most ice anglers prefer to keep such gear to a minimum, for they have to haul it with them wherever they go on the ice. 

If you’re going to fish through holes in the ice, you need something to make those holes. The ice auger is a popular tool for this job. Augers come in different designs. One has a long handle with a U-shaped bend at the top, and a rounded cutting blade at the bottom. The handle is turned much like that of a manual drill, and the blade cuts a round hole through the ice. Another type looks like a giant ice drill with sharp, widely spaced threads. It is used in the same way. Gasoline-powered ice drills are also available. 

Then there’s the ice spud or chisel. This is a heavy metal handle with a large, chisel-type blade at the bottom. The spud’s weight helps the angler punch down through the ice, but the user must shape the hole once he has broken through. 

An indispensable item of accessory gear is the ice skimmer, a ladle-type device that is used to keep the hole clear of ice chips and chunks and to skim ice. A heavy sinker will serve the same purpose. 

Many ice anglers like to use an attached spring clip. It is attached to the fishing line and used to determine the water depth—an important factor because in winter most game fish are found on or near the bottom. 

Winter is the time of year when ice fishermen venture out onto frozen waters. Most will have fun, but a few will get into trouble because they don’t know how to make sure that the ice is safe. The first rule is never take chances. There are two periods when accidents are likely to happen: early in the season when slush ice doesn’t freeze uniformly and late in the season when ice melts at an uneven rate. It takes prolonged periods of freezing to make ice safe. Here are some rules to remember: 

Be cautious of heavy snowfalls while ice is forming. Snow acts as an insulator. The result is a layer of slush and snow on top of treacherous ice. 

Clear, solid river ice is 15 percent weaker than clear lake ice. 

River ice is thinner midstream than near the banks. 

River mouths are dangerous because currents create pockets of unsafe ice. 

When walking with friends, stay 10 yards apart. 

Lakes that have a lot of springs will have weak spots of ice. 





About the author:

Vin T. Sparano is the author of Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia as well as three other guides for Rizzoli

He has been an outdoor editor and writer for more than fifty years. He is editor emeritus of Outdoor Life, and has written and edited more than fifteen books about the outdoors. In 2013, he was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

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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! 🐟🐟🐟 #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. 

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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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.

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 ❤️ 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. 

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 🎯 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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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? ⛷👍💪

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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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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! ⛷ #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.

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.

Thank you for the 📷 @designbytietz @mtskigull @cruxsnow

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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 ❤️🏂 #mountkato #snowboarding

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Camping Done Right: 7 Essential Outdoor Stores in Minnesota Getting outside is a favorite pastime in the North Star State. And one of the best ways to dive deep into all that nature has to offer is camping. However, as any pro will tell you, camping without the right equipment is just foolhardy. You need gear to do it—especially in a state where conditions can change in an instant and a 30 or 40-degree daily temperature change is not unusual. Fortunately, Minnesota has some great stores where you can not only get the gear you need but also get good advice about the right equipment and how to use. Here are seven essential camping gear retailers in the state.

REI is the state’s—and probably the country’s—premier outdoor retailer for camping gear. They have three Minnesota locations in Roseville, Maple Grove, and their flagship store in Bloomington. A huge selection of camping gear, from tents and sleeping bags to backpacks and sporks, combined with knowledgeable staff who are always happy to guide you in your gear quest make REI an essential store. In addition to their own high-quality house brand, they also carry many renowned brands like Mountain Hardwear, Big Agnes, Osprey, and MSR. REI also offers classes on camping and wilderness skills.

Tent and two sleeping pads to round out our #reigaragesale experience in #roseville #minnesota

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Piragis is a premier outfitter for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). In addition to permits, canoe rentals, and a ton of good advice, they also have a retail operation that sells new and used gear from respected outdoor brands like Nemo Equipment, Sea to Summit, and Sierra Designs. If you don’t want to drive to Ely to grab your gear, you can order online from their Boundary Waters Catalog.

Before REI made it to Minnesota, a frustrated rock climber took matters into his own hands and opened Midwest Mountaineering, a beloved Twin Cities institution for almost half a century. Their carefully-selected staff is made up of industry veterans and outdoor enthusiasts. Their camping department has a deep selection of tents, packs, and gear that anyone from a Superior Hiking Trail thru-hiker to a car-camping family can use.

Poised at the eastern end of the Gunflint Trail, Grand Marais is a launching point for many North Woods camping adventures. If you’re looking to pick up some last-minute camping necessities—whether for your BWCAW canoe voyage, Superior Hiking Trail trek, or your state park campground site—Lake Superior Trading Post is a place where you’ll find a solid selection of gear. A range of equipment from brands like Coghlan’s, Camelbak, and Hydro Flask will help keep your camping adventure on track.


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Joe’s Sporting Goods is a locally-owned outdoor store with a lot of floor space. They’ve been a go-to spot for camping gear for more than half a century because they have a big selection to match the size of the store. You’ll find tents, sleeping bags and everything in between—from brands like the North Face and Marmot —along with a friendly and knowledgeable staff at Joe’s. 

Folks in southeast Minnesota can find a solid selection of camping gear at Tyrol Ski & Sports in Rochester. Whether you’re looking for a tent or a headlamp, a water filter or topo map—or all of the above—Tyrol will likely have it. They carry top-quality brands like Granite Gear, Petzl, and Klean Kanteen, so you’ll know that you’ve got the best gear for your next camping adventure. If you’re new to camping or not ready to make a big initial investment, they also offer equipment rentals.

#enohammock #tyrolskishop

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Camping gear is not cheap. And outfitting from scratch can result in a pretty hefty price tag. Fortunately, there’s Repair Lair. Not only will they (as the name implies) repair your well-worn gear, they also sell used gear. Because their carefully-curated inventory tends to turn over, it’s a good idea to pop in on the regular and see what’s new. Get big-brand names like Kelty or Patagonia for a fraction of the price. 

Gotta big tent that needs fixin? Lucy says "bring it in!"

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Start Your Trek: 7 Fantastic Hiking Retailers in Minnesota Whether you consider yourself an experienced outdoors person or a beginner, hiking is a fantastic way to relieve stress from your hectic life, get beneficial exercise, and unwind among the natural beauty that Minnesota offers. In order to have a successful hike, though, you’ll need the right gear. For any hiking enthusiast’s dream, here are seven fantastic retailers in the area.

Open since 1982, the House has long been a staple for Minnesota residents. Located in St. Paul they have a main showroom and an outlet store both on Owasso Boulevard. The House prides themselves on equipping all those with a love for the outdoors with great quality gear. They carry a vast array of brands for all your hiking needs. From Keen to Salomon the possibilities for hiking shoes, water bottles, and packs are endless.

Trailfitters couldn’t have selected a better location for their store. They are beloved by the town of Duluth, which is home to countless outdoor adventurers and hiking addicts. Duluth is on the north shore of Lake Superior and hosts a 39-mile portion of the Superior Hiking Trail which is a part of the nation’s longest hiking trail. Trailfitters has great ideas for customers on where to hike, trail run and much more. They carry all the brands you love, such as Patagonia, the North Face, and Mountain Hardwear

In the business of outdoor apparel and equipment since 1895, Hoigaard’s might claim the prize of “oldest” retailer but that does mean they are outdated. Hoigaard’s is home to all the hiking gear you could ever imagine. They boast gear for a sport called Nordic walking, which includes poles and snow gear. This is a perfect activity for a hiker who wants to continue into the winter and switch up their normal routine.

Midwest Mountaineering came to be because there was a need for gear that avid nature and outdoor adventure lovers required. Midwest Mountaineering was the first provider of outdoor gear in the area and remains to this day a beloved and sought destination. They pride themselves on having a knowledgeable staff that enjoys the activities they discuss, just as much as those shopping there do. This strong sense of community permeates throughout the store. Midwest Mountaineering offers fantastic discounted prices on select items as well as brands you will love.

New adventure pack! 📷@kellymork

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Sierra Trading Post boasts two locations in Minnesota, one in Eagan and another in Woodbury. They are a tried and true destination for all your hiking needs as they carry absolutely everything. Everything. From daypacks, to hiking boots, to hydration packs, to hiking poles. Enjoy brands such as Marmot and Smartwool. You will leave this retailer undoubtedly ready to take on your next hiking excursion.

New shoes day! #sidthevizsla #vizsla #coldfeet

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As much as we love hiking and other outdoor activities, something no one loves are the hefty price tags that often coincides with the things we love. Repair Lair is the perfect place for those looking to fix what’s broken, in terms of their gear and their wallets. 

With locations in Onamia and Walker, Reed’s Family Outdoor Outfitters is a great retailer for your hiking essentials. They are known for their sales, which means you can finally purchase those new hiking books or poles you have been saving up for. So exclusively family oriented and firmly rooted in providing great service, the word family is even in their name! Head to Reed’s Family Outdoor Outfitters to service your hiking and outdoor needs.

26 hours until kickoff!

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Making the Most of Bear Head Lake State Park Defined by the Sawtooth Mountains and more than 10,000 lakes, Minnesota is a rustic, charming, outdoor lover’s paradise. When it comes to exploring its beautiful natural spaces, you have a lot to choose from, but Bear Head Lake State Park is a special one. In 2010, it was voted “America’s Favorite Park,” and there is plenty to do and see in the area. Here are some highlights. 

Bear Head Lake State Park is a remote 4,000-acre spot located in the Great Northwoods of Minnesota’s Iron Range, just southwest of Ely. Adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), the park shares the same wild qualities, with northern boreal forests and lakes defining the landscape. 

The best way to explore the park’s backcountry is to take the figure-eight hike around Becky and Blueberry Lakes. You’ll encounter some steep hills and rocky terrain on the rugged, packed-dirt trails, but the deep woods experience and the chance to encounter some of the park’s wildlife—gray wolves, black bears, and moose—make the effort worthwhile. Views over Becky Lake and Blueberry Lake will help distract your attention from any travails you encounter on the six-mile hike. Take your time as you drift among the giant white and Norway pines that escaped the axes of loggers in the 1890s.

To see some of the best views in the park, walk the quarter-mile Beach Trail along the shore of Bear Head Lake. Located just south of the main campground, the trail is punctuated with a handful of small docks and piers that enable you to get out further over the water and experience the grandeur of the park’s signature lake. The best time to hit the trail is in the evening when waterfowl are gliding on the lake, fish are jumping, and the sun is casting a golden net over the surface of the Bear Head Lake’s North Bay as it sets in the west. 

When you stay in Bear Head Lake State Park, you have a number of camping options from which to choose. If you just want to stay in the park and bring as little as possible, book one of the four rental cabins. They’re not five-star hotels, but you don’t have to figure out how to put them up in the dark, either. Otherwise, there are 50 sites in the main loops, most of which have electric hookups and space for an RV. A non-electric loop has more-secluded sites that are ideal for tents or pop-up trailers. If you’re a tent camper that needs more space, though, grab one of the backpack or boat-in sites in the park.

Make no mistake, Bear Head Lake State Park is in the middle of the woods—as in far away from civilization. And if you’re there for a while, you may become weary of providing all your own comforts, like food, drink, warmth. The good news is that the Good Ol’ Days Bar & Grill is just a few minutes away in Tower. The better news? They’re open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. so you can get breakfast, dinner, happy hour, or just drinks—whatever respite you may need from your wilderness immersion experience—without getting too far from your campsite.

If you’re looking for another awesome activity in the area, head west from Bear Head Lake State Park toward Tower. There you’ll find the Soudan Underground Mine, which is now located within one of Minnesota’s newest state parks. Created in the latter part of the 19th century, the Soudan Mine is famously one of the deepest sites in the United States and the first of many iron ore mines in Minnesota. Its rates of production created the state’s iron ore industry and elevated Duluth to its prominence as one of the world’s busiest inland ports.

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