Summit Express Gondola

07Aug

You won’t find a better vantage point from which to view the Sawtooth Mountains and Lake Superior’s dramatic coastline. This aerial gondola is one of the North Shore’s most popular attractions, taking you on a scenic ride to the top of Moose Mountain, rising 1,000 feet over Lake Superior. The gentle ride at treetop level is an experience not to be missed if you’re visitng the North Shore, here’s why:

It’s the only transportation of its kind in the Midwest: ruffed grouse, eagles, pine martin, deer, bear, timber wolves, and moose have all been spotted from the gondola; ride over the cascading Poplar River and up Moose Mountain for unbelieveable views of Lake Superior and the surrounding area. 

Stop at the Summit Chalet at Lutsen Mountains, a beautiful mountaintop chalet welcoming guests for gorgeous views, relaxation, or for lunch, snacks, and beverages. Inside and outside deck seating is available overlooking Lake Superior. The Summit Chalet at Lutsen Mountains also hosts our Summit Chalet weddings, our premier destination wedding facility. 

Enjoy the mountaintop hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and fresh air. The Summit Express Gondola makes Moose Mountain the most accessible year-round mountaintop destination in Mid-America.

2019 Summit Express Gondola Summer Dates & Hours

Saturdays: April 27, May 4, 11
Saturday & Sunday: May 18 & 19
Friday – Monday: May 24 – 27
Open Daily: May 31-October 20
Saturdays: October 26, November 2, 9

Open 10a – 4p: Apr 27, May 4, Oct 26, Nov 2 & 9
Open 10a – 5p: May 11 – Oct 20*

*September 28 & October 5: 10a-6p
Schedule may vary due to weather. 

Skiing & Snowboarding

07Aug

Minnesota’s Mountain Vacation

Lutsen Mountains offers the Midwest’s only true mountain ski area experience. Four interconnected peaks overlooking Lake Superior bring big mountain skiing with Up North authenticity.

Whether you’re looking for a family ski holiday, a romantic retreat or a weekend ski or snowboard getaway with friends, you’ll discover a real mountain vacation at Lutsen.  Your True North.

  • Mid-America’s largest ski resort
  • 4 mountains, 95 runs, 825’ vertical rise
  • Slopeside lodging & dining
  • Live music 7 days/week
  • New (2015) 8 passenger gondola 
  • New (2013) 6 passenger high-speed chairlift
  • $9 million snowmaking upgrade
  • 10 feet average annual snowfall

Cross Country Skiing

07Aug

Cross-Country Skiing: How far can you go?

Cook County, Minnesota is home to the largest cross-country trail network in North America, totaling over 400 km. 

Lutsen – Tofte – Schroeder Area Trails | 140.5km

Grand Marais Area Trails | 52.9km

Gunflint Trail Area Trails | 210.7 km

Ski Pass

Skiers between the ages of 16 and 64. using non-Federal trails, must purchase a Minnesota State Ski Pass, or if skiing on Central of Upper Gunflint Trails, a Ski Ticket. 

Source: Visit Cook County

Snowshoeing

07Aug

Strap on a pair of snowshoes and go for a quick kid-friendly jaunt or a full-day adventure. Follow a trail along the Lake Superior shore, trek to a waterfall or dramatic overlook, or even blaze your own path in the wilderness. Whatever your snowshoe style, you’ll find the perfect snowshoe trail here in Cook County.

  • Maybe you’ve hiked the Superior Hiking Trail (named #2 in the nation by Backpacker Magazine) in the summer or fall. Now try it in the winter! Most segments of the SHT are suitable for snowshoeing.
  • Some of our parks offer snowshoe-specific trails and equipment rental. Contact them for details.
  • Your lodging establishment can also point you to nearby trails and may even loan you snowshoes or offer guided excursions.
  • While our trails are always beautiful, there’s something special about snowshoeing through freshly fallen snow. Check the weather forecast before your visit to see if you’ll be treated to untouched powder. We average 120″ of snow each year.

Snowshoes come in different styles, from traditional Ojibwe-style wooden frames crisscrossed with rawhide to gleaming modern snowshoes made of metal and plastic. Try different styles and see which you like better. You can rent, buy or check out snowshoes from many Cook County businesses.

Source: Visit Cook County

Dogsledding

07Aug

Dogsleds were the original snowmobiles, transporting people across the snow-frosted forests and ice-kissed lakes of the north. Mix irresistible dogs with beautiful snow, and you’ve got the recipe for a winter adventure you won’t forget. 

Cook County is host to a few dogsled races throughout the year. 

Watching is fun, but doing is even better!

In Cook County, there are several dog mushing companies that will take you out on the adventure of a lifetime. You can opt for a 2-hour, half-day or all-day trip — and maybe even learn to drive your own team. By the end of the excursion, at least one of the dogs will have stolen your heart, that’s a guarantee.

The following businesses offer dogsledding adventures. Call ahead to reserve your spot.

Source: Visit Cook County

Snowmobiling

07Aug

Snowmobile trails – over 450 miles to explore!

This is snowmobiling like nowhere else in the Midwest. With 450 miles of trails that wind through the wildest, the most breathtaking scenery in Minnesota, the hardest part of riding in Lutsen-Tofte, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage is deciding where to head first.

Every part of Cook County offers something special to snowmobilers—from wilderness and solitude to Lake Superior views. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like moose, fox, coyotes, and wolves. Looking for a wild ride? The C.J. Ramstad/North Shore State Trail winds for 146 rugged miles from Grand Marais to Duluth, threading through the stunning backcountry. The North Shore State Trail connects with trails in Lutsen and Tofte and numerous other locations.

Our local club, the Ridge Riders Snowmobile Club, is active all winter long, sponsoring rides, contests, and other events throughout the season.

We’re Snowmobile Friendly!

Cook County knows how to show snowmobilers a good time with friendly small-town hospitality. Rest, refuel and resupply at family businesses with countless lodging options, restaurants, fuel and repair services, groceries, and other riding supplies. This is quite possibly the perfect snowmobile vacation.

Snowmobile rentals

Cook County Snowmobile Map (PDF) 

Don’t forget to check the MN snowmobile regulations for a safe and smooth visit.

Source: Visit Cook County

Mountain Biking

07Aug

These are the rides on every biker’s bucket list. With no crowds and over 2,000 miles of potential rides, Cook County is a bike and biker’s paradise. From the paved Gitchi Gami State Trail winding along the Lake Superior shore to white-knuckle singletrack to endless backcountry roads threading the Superior National Forest, biking in Cook County, Minnesota is a ride you will never forget.

Lutsen99er Mountain Bike Race – June 29, 2019

A 19, 39, and 99-mile mountain bike race. 

Heartbreak Hill Loop

Distance: 18 miles | 2 – 5 hours | Difficulty: Intermediate 
Heartbreak Hill Loop_LTTA

Description: Over the river and through the woods is the best way to summarize this trail. In the first few miles, you gain a good deal of elevation. This scenic loop crosses the Temperance River multiple times, it is recommended to take the opportunity to park the bike and take a short hike along the river.

Terrain:  This ride blends gravel road adventure with a taste of the Gitchi Gami paved bike trail. Hybrid or mountain bikes are recommended. Be aware that the Sawbill Trail is a well-traveled road and a main route into the inland lakes – be cautious of vehicle traffic.

Onion River Road

Distance: 7 miles round trip* | 30 minutes – 1 hour [*out and back trail] | Difficulty: Easy  
Onion River Road – Route MAP

Description: Easy, family-friendly ride with several fun side-trip opportunities. Several hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowmobile trails cross through the area. This light traffic gravel road is a gradual climb through a mixed and scenic forest. Please remember riding on the Superior Hiking Trail is not allowed.

Honeymoon Loop  + Spur Trail

Distance: 20 miles |  3 – 5 hours | Difficulty: Intermediate  
Honeymoon Loop_Route Map

Description: A classic Northwoods ride, the Pancore/Honeymoon Loop will give you a taste of the ruggedness of the area. Rated intermediate due to distance but mild for the route.

Terrain: Generally smooth gravel with a few rockier sections on the Pancore Lake Road. Recommended to use a mountain bike but, with caution, a hybrid bike is capable.

Pike Lake Loop + Spur Trail

Distance: 22 miles | Estimated time: 2 – 4 hours | Difficulty: Intermediate – Advanced  
Pike Lake Loop_Route Map

Description: After a rainstorm, sections of this trail can be very muddy. There are many spur trails and roads, pay close attention to remain on the main trail. Excellent wildlife viewing.

Terrain: Gravel and primitive minimum maintenance road. Mountain bike recommended.

Britton

Distance: 5.5 miles of trail | >1 – 2 hours | Difficulty: Intermediate – Advanced  
Britton Peak Single Track – Route Map

Description: A series of single-track mountain bike adventures await discovery.

Terrain: Narrow single-track trails. Mountain bike required.

Peak Trailsitchi-Gami State Trail | Schroeder – Lutsen Resort

Distance: 10.41 miles each way | 1 – 5 hours | Difficulty: Easy 
Gitchi Gami State Trail

Description: A paved recreational trail to provide a safe corridor for bicyclists, in-line skaters, joggers and walkers along Highway 61, paralleling the North Shore of Lake Superior. The trail can be broken into segments or done in full.

Terrain: Paved multi-use path offers a safe route along the highway but crosses multiple private driveways. Travel with caution then approaching high traffic zones. Any bike can be used on this trail but ideal for road biking.

Backcountry & Forest Service Roads
Countless backcountry gravel roads and trails wind through the Superior National Forest and into some of the most breathtaking country to ever roll beneath your bike. Pick up an official Cook County Highway Map or the official Superior National Forest Visitor Map for a comprehensive list of all roads and trails.

Where to rent bikes, get the gear, take guided tours and more.

Biking Events

Source: Visit Cook County