Winter hiking with dogs

6 Ways to Get Outdoors in Northeast Minnesota This Winter

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Take your pups on a winter hiking adventure / Alyssa Hei

6 Ways to Get Outdoors in Northeast Minnesota This Winter

By Minnesota Arrowhead Committee

You don’t have to own special outdoor gear to experience all the wonder winter has to offer. Look to Northeast Minnesota for exciting ways to try out cold weather fun. Here are six special rental opportunities that will get you into the season.

Skijoring in Cannon Falls

Try Skijoring in Cook County

There aren’t many places you can try skijoring–being pulled on skis by your dog or dogs along snowy trails–but Cook County is one of them, and it’s one of the best. If you don’t have your own cross-country skis, you can rent them, along with a skijoring towline and waistbelt, from Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply in Grand Marais. Then you and your canine pals (you do have to bring your own dog) can go explore frozen lakes and wooded trails. Some trails are dog friendly, but not all, so be sure to check before you go. For those who’d rather just watch, check out these Cook County festivals where skijoring is popular.

Couple Snowshoeing Iron Range

Snowshoeing on the Iron Range

'Shoe Your Way Through History

Make plans to explore the Mesabi Iron Range on snowshoes this winter. You can hike into a former mine pit at Redhead Mountain Bike Park. Winter trails lead into this historic site, now reclaimed for recreation, including snowshoeing. Additional trails can be found on the grounds of the nearby Minnesota Discovery Center, a history museum where snowshoe and headlamp rentals are offered. Watch for weekly guided snowshoe tours on-site.

Make Tracks on Lake Vermilion

With nearly 40,000 acres of surface area, Lake Vermilion, one of Minnesota's favorite lakes, offers vast spaces to explore by snowmobile. Don't worry if you don't own a snowmobile, Lake Vermilion Houseboats in Tower offers rentals conveniently located near the Arrowhead and Taconite trail systems. The communities of Tower, Soudan and Cook are easily accessible by great snowmobile trails and offer all the creature comforts you need for a thrilling winter escape. There are lots of winter lodging options in the area, too.

Large sunfish caught while ice fishing on a Grand Rapids area lake

Large sunfish caught while ice fishing on a Grand Rapids area lake / Visit Grand Rapids

Find Your House Away From Home

The Grand Rapids area is home to dozens of lakes that offer great ice fishing, and several resorts that offer ice house rentals. Experience this quintessential northeast Minnesota winter activity without purchasing all the gear. Area guides can provide tips on where to fish and advice on licensing for in-state and out-of-state anglers. Explore the area for great lodging and dining options while you visit.

Voyageurs National Park entrance in winter

Voyageurs National Park entrance in winter / Abdiel Nieves

Cross-Country Ski for Free

On the northern border, the International Falls and Rainy Lake area is the gateway to Minnesota’s only national park, Voyageurs National Park. With more than 200,000 acres of water and boreal forests, the serene ruggedness of this region is ripe for winter adventures. The park loans out cross-country skis (snowshoes, too!), free for day use at the Rainy Lake Visitors Center. The park’s trail maps make it easy to find the perfect trail.

Winter Fat Biking Duluth

Fat biking near Lake Superior / Hansi Johnson

Winter on Two (FAT) Wheels

Take in beautiful views of Lake Superior as you fat-tire bike your way along eight miles of trail at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in Lake County. This popular trail, along with three routes in the Lake County Demonstration Forest, gets groomed for biking.  Convenient rentals can be found nearby at SpokeNGear Bike Shop in Two Harbors, making it easy to try this fast-growing winter sport.

Minnesota Arrowhead Committee

Minnesota Arrowhead Committee is a coalition of travel/tourism and commerce organizations working together to promote the Arrowhead region of northeast Minnesota as a vacation destination.