Late Winter Activities on the North ShoreHannah Hoaglund
Though many people in the Midwest lose their snow and are typically forced to stop participating in their favorite winter activities in March, we are fortunate here on the North Shore in Minnesota to have an excellent snow base year after year. That means we get to enjoy nicer temperatures AND still indulge in our favorite winter sports, like Nordic and alpine skiing, hiking, and even snowshoeing. Because of the contrast in other areas of the state and region, we want to share some of the top things you can do right here on Lake Superior’s North Shore during the late winter and early sprint months.
Although the alpine season is over in most areas of the state, it is far from over on the North Shore! Because temperatures typically turn cooler earlier in the fall/winter here compared to the rest of the state, Lutsen Mountains has the opportunity to make snow and set up a great snow base. A unique ecosystem, created by its proximity to Lake Superior, significantly increases the snowfall totals each winter also. These snowfalls help create an incredible base. Coupled with cold nights that linger in the late winter, there is significantly less snow loss on the North Shore compared to other areas in the state. This helps extend the ski season well into the spring. This year is no exception as the resort expects conditions to be excellent throughout March and into April.
Cross Country/Nordic Skiing
We’re also pretty fortunate to have a number of incredible ski trail systems in the county. The Sugarbush trail system, which we believe to be home to some of the best trails in the region (you can read more about one of our favorite trails in the system HERE), is right out our back door. To the north you’ll also find a variety of trails at Pincushion Mountain right outside of Grand Marais. The warm days and cool nights that late winter/early spring bring make for comfortable daytime skiing. They are also excellent for retaining the snow on the trails. This year the trails remain in excellent conditions and we expect them to be groomed at least to the end of March, if not into April.
Fat biking is another activity that is excellent to do or try when you’re here on the North Shore. An expanding system of fat biking specific trails can be found in the area, including trails at Pincushion Mountains. The vast system of gravel roads in the areas also create opportunities for fat bikes to travel. Because of their nature, they work really well when gravel road conditions range from snow-cleared to snowy and/or icy. They offer riders incredible scenery to view as they breathe in fresh air. Most roads will take bikers through old growth boreal forest and by countless lakes and rivers.
Snowshoeing is also an activity that is fun for many during this time of year. Though many people associate snowshoeing with the depths of winter it extends beyond that. Spring is an excellent time to try a pair when many snowy areas turn soft and slushy. These snow conditions make it difficult to walk across the snow without a pair. They can also be used on trails if the weather is warm.
Though many people don’t consider spring to be prime time for hiking, we highly recommend it. By this time of year hikers and snowshoers have packed most of the local trails well. Trails like the Superior Hiking Trail are excellent for those who are looking out to get some fresh air. We highly recommend bringing and/or wearing a pair of Yak Tracks or a similar pair of traction spikes for your boots. Fluctuating temperatures of the season can create some icy conditions in spots. With all of that said, occasionally the warm weather will arrive significantly earlier in the spring so if the trails are extremely muddy or [insert other conditions], we recommend staying off them to maintain the integrity of the trails for others (once the trails are damaged, they’re difficult and expensive to repair).
So there you have it – some of our favorite activities we recommend. Check them out while the winter conditions are excellent and enjoyable.