Eager to climb back on your sled and cruise over a deep blanket of gleaming snow? The cruising opportunities in Minnesota are just about limitless, and tempt snowmobilers to wander further from home to go exploring.
Minnesota's rolling terrain, thousands of lakes, and extensive forests add up to terrific winter scenery. And with the immense popularity of snowmobiling here, towns and businesses cater to them, making it easy to plan stops for lunch and hot coffee at local spots along the route.
All in all, there are about 22,000 miles of groomed and marked snowmobile trails leading to every nook and cranny of the state. Minnesota's well-cared for trails can be directly credited to the Grant-in-Aid program of the state's Department of Natural Resources and snowmobiling clubs across the state. It's a funding partnership between the clubs, the users and the states that has created what may be the finest system of trails in the country. Supported by sled registration fees, the program provides for trail development, improvement and grooming.
Want to see the results for yourself? You can head just about any direction in the state. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Voyageurs National Park and the land surrounding it are a prime area for enjoying the natural beauty of winter. The park, Superior National Forest and Kabetogama State Forest have preserved this near-wilderness for outdoor enthusiasts who want to get away from it all. Still, there are plenty touches of civilization, with numerous resorts, plenty of hotels and services in International Falls, and even a cozy, historic inn in the heart of Voyageurs National Park. Several places rent snowmobiles. Along the state's northern border, the Voyageurs area between International Falls and Lake Vermilion offers a beautiful network of trails through a pristine, north woods area crossed by few roads.
Brainerd Lakes Area
This area of bountiful lakes has been a popular summer vacation destination for almost 100 years. Now, it's a winter playground as well, with a terrific network of snowmobile trails and a wide selection of resorts and motels. From Brainerd, an intricate web of trails spans out around Gull Lake, Nisswa, Breezy Point, Pelican Lake, Crosslake, and the Whitefish Chain of Lakes. That's the key word here - lakes - and plenty of beautiful winter scenery. Long-distance rides can head north to Walker and Remer. Friendly villages and cafes make great stopping points along the trails. Several businesses rent snowmobiles.
The Hinckley Hub
The countryside between the St. Croix River and Mille Lacs Lake, anchored by Hinckley, features miles of great riding. There are several state forests here, and St. Croix State Park has 75 miles of trail. The Willard Munger Trail is another favorite in the area. The town of Moose Lake sits within a knot of trails connecting to the Munger. A Minnesota Interconnecting Trail System route, MITS-35, runs from the Iowa border all the way to Duluth. Long-distance rides from the Hinckley hub can explore the Mille Lacs, Aitkin County and Carlton areas. There are casinos in both Carlton and Hinckley.
For more information on these and other snowmobiling options, call for your copy of Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations, available from Explore Minnesota , 888-VISITMN (888-847-4866), or order it online.
- Department of Natural Resources
- Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association