Cross-Country Skiing in Northeast Minnesota

Gunflint cross-countryIn the winter, Minnesota offers lots of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Don't let the cold keep you away. The communities of northeast Minnesota welcome you to experience a truly amazing season.

For those wishing to enjoy winter’s solitude with Nordic skiing, the northeast part of Minnesota offers thousands of miles of skiing on hundreds of groomed trails. Enjoy a variety of terrain for beginning, intermediate and expert skiers, both classic and freestyle techniques. Cross-country skiing is a great way to get your family outdoors and enjoy winter together.

On the trails you will encounter a brilliant white wonderland that will take your breath away. Remember to dress in layers because once you are skiing on the trail for a while, you may want to peel off a layer or two. If you do not have cross-country skiing equipment, don’t worry. There are several rental shops where you can rent for the day or for the entire weekend. They carry sizes from kids to adults. This makes it very convenient if you are not fully invested in the sport and want to try before you buy.

The scenery you can expect to see will vary widely based on the location. Along the North Shore in Two Harbors you will experience a rocky landscape with stunning overlooks, and the opportunity to take in Minnesota native animals like deer, eagles, and possibly a moose. In Duluth, trails are conveniently located minutes from town with overlooks of the Duluth skyline and Lake Superior, and Nordic skiing at Spirit Mountain. To the northwest, Ely is home to wooded wilderness, shoreline trails, and places where you can make your own trail. Head further west to the Iron Range to experience the hills of the Laurentian Divide, with views of Superior National Forest and skiing at Giants Ridge. Head north to the Canadian border to experience skiing in the spectacular Voyageurs National Park, then head south to Grand Rapids for skiing opportunities in the Chippewa National Forest and among the tall pines of the north woods.

Northeast Gunflint CabinIf you’re looking for a place to stay near the trail, northeast Minnesota has a wide range of lodging properties from elegant full-service to budget-conscious and comfortable. You will find charming bed-and-breakfasts, conveniently located hotels, economical motels, and family-owned resorts, including several downhill ski resorts. There is something for everyone and every price range.

A Minnesota Ski Pass is required on all grant-in-aid trails. Some trails require a Great Minnesota Ski Pass which may be purchased at any electronic licensing agent. Funds generated by the sale of ski passes help local, county and state organizations maintain trails. Cross-country skiers ages 16 and older must have a ski pass on most public ski trails. You can also purchase a ski pass online from the Department of Natural Resources.

Winter can be long in Minnesota, but it doesn’t have to mean that you are locked up inside. Get outside this winter to enjoy the wonderful outdoor recreation opportunities that northeast Minnesota has to offer.