Snowmobilers in Temperance River State Park

Snowmobiling and Ice Fishing in Northeast Minnesota

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Snowmobilers in Temperance River State Park

Snowmobiling and Ice Fishing in Northeast Minnesota

By Minnesota Arrowhead Committee

Northeast Minnesota is the perfect place to go to enjoy some of the state’s favorite winter pastimes: snowmobiling and ice fishing. The experience in the region is unparalleled, and the memories will be unforgettable.

Moon over Grand Marias harbor in winter

Winter scene of Grand Marais harbor and Artist's Point

Hit the North Shore Trail 

The North Shore Trail, spanning 146 miles, is a great opportunity for snowmobile enthusiasts to enjoy all the stunning views the region has to offer. Start in Duluth, or enter at one of several points along the way, including Two Harbors, Gooseberry Falls State Park and Lutsen.

Out on the trail, make your way through backwoods and cliff faces until you reach the trail’s end in Grand Marais. The entire trail is groomed weekly.

Do not be surprised if you run into some wildlife on your journey. Wolves, moose, fox and coyotes can all be seen on along the trails.

Because the North Shore Trail is connected to several local trails, you can also visit riverbanks, waterfalls and overlooks. You can also find gas, food and lodging on some of the local trails.

Green sky over pine trees on the Gunflint Trail

Northern lights over the Gunflint Trail / David Johnson

Glide Through Gunflint

With spotty cell phone service on parts of the trail, it is a good idea to let others know about your travel plans ahead of time. You can also download the Department of Natural Resources’ GeoPDF maps, which give you access to the trail maps without data or cell service.

Once you make it to Grand Marais, make sure to check out at the Cook County Snowmobile Club, which sponsors events throughout the winter. In total, Cook County boasts more than 450 miles of trails.

In Grand Marais, you will also find access to the Gunflint Trail system, where you can find some of the best forest and lake access in the region. The trail connects to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. You can also learn about the history of the Gunflint Trail at the nearby Chikwauk Museum.

And be sure to check out the trail system in Mesabi, which makes exploring easy thanks to its ready access to lodging, bars and restaurants.

Nice lake trout pulled from a Grand Rapids area trout lake by Justin Wiese

Nice lake trout pulled from a Grand Rapids area trout lake by Justin Wiese /

Where to Go Ice Fishing

After hitting the trails on your snowmobile, grab some bait and settle down on the frozen lakes in the North Shore and catch plenty of trout, walleye and crappies while ice fishing. As you wait on the fish be sure to kick back, relax and take in the peaceful view.

If you want to stay close to the fish but get away from the cold, choose to stay in a heated ice fishing house. They conveniently have pre-drilled holes.

Ely is also a great place to ice fish; it gives you the opportunity to catch lake trout, northern pike and eel pout. And if you are lucky, you may find the rare silver phase pike.

Want to go ice fishing, but don’t have a fishing license? Easily purchase the appropriate one online before your trip through the MN DNR website.

For more information about snowmobiling in Minnesota — including maps, articles, places to stay and more — download the Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations guide.

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.