Tree Treks

By Mpls.St.Paul Magazine / Inspired by Alan Page’s My North

Maple syrup tapping Leech Lake areaWhen NFL Hall of Famer and former associate Minnesota State Supreme Court Justice Alan Page isn’t writing children’s books or working with the Page Education Foundation to help provide college scholarships and resources to students of color, he’s at his cabin north of Brainerd communing with his maple trees and making syrup. But even when it’s not syrup season, there are plenty of ways to make leisurely use of our Minnesota trees.

Watch the Minnesota Tree Climbing Championship, Minneapolis

For members of the Minnesota Society of Arboriculture, climbing trees doesn’t stop when you’re 12. And every year in Minneapolis’ Kenwood Park, they celebrate that fact with the Minnesota Tree Climbing Championship. From May 6-7, the best climbers in the state gather for two days full of climbing challenges, ranging from aerial rescues to speed climbs to work climbs. It’s free to watch and quite a show.

Stay in the Dreamcatcher at Ludlow’s Island Resort, Cook

One of the great family resorts in Minnesota, an hour north of Duluth on the beautiful Lake Vermilion, Ludlow’s is also home to one of the state’s greatest treehouse-inspired cabins, the Dreamcatcher. Originally proposed as a cabin on 18-foot stilts to help add lodging to the island resort without stealing too big a footprint, in coordination with architect Dale Mulfinger, the cabin evolved into a four-story tower with a full bathroom and kitchen, three bedrooms, a series of porches at varying levels, and a fifth-story roof deck with panoramic views of the Norway pines and lake beyond.

Take the Kerfoot Canopy Tour, Henderson

Kerfoot Canopy Tours zip line in HendersonBarely an hour southwest of the Twin Cities in Henderson, the Kerfoot Canopy Tour isn’t for land lovers (or children under the age of 10). The nearly half-day-long tour de treetops employs a 114-foot suspension bridge, 14 zip lines totaling more than a mile, and spiral staircases in between that keep inching you up further and further into the stratosphere as you work your way deeper into the course.

Stay in Villa I at Spirit Mountain Villas, Duluth

Just off Skyline Parkway on the bluffs overlooking downtown Duluth and Lake Superior sits Spirit Mountain Villas resort. The gem of the resort is an octagonal cabin that would appear more or less normal, if it weren’t set 10 feet off the ground atop a central trunk. With two bedrooms, a full bathroom and kitchen, and skyline views of Lake Superior from its decks, the real cherry on top of Villa I is that it’s just a five-minute jaunt from all the to-dos of Duluth below.

Eat at Rapid River Logging Camp, Park Rapids

Sandwiched between Potato and Fishhook lakes, and situated along the lazily flowing Potato River just north of downtown Park Rapids, sits living history logging museum and restaurant, Rapid River Logging Camp. Because when pioneers weren’t getting sap from the north woods trees, they were chopping them down. There’s a full blacksmith shop, sawmill, and even an original log chute from the Park Rapids logging days. But the real star is the all-you-can-eat breakfast (pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs) and dinner (roast beef, BBQ ribs, chicken and dressing) served in a traditional logger-style cook shanty, Memorial Day through Labor Day.

My North is a weekly video series created in partnership with Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and Explore Minnesota. If you missed Alan Page’s story, view it here.

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