Blog

2020 Boundary Waters Permits

It is that time of year again. Yesterday was the official start of the Boundary Waters permit reservation season. This is the second year of the permit reservations taking place on a new system. So far it seems like the difficulties that happened last season have been fixed. You can go online and reserve your permit in just a few minutes, but if you are having issues we have compiled a how to guide for you to navigate the process. Before continuing any further there are a few pieces of information that are good to understand before visiting the rec.gov website. To start with everyone who enters the BWCA needs a permit, however not all visitors need to reserve a permit. Any visitors that are staying overnight between May 1st and September 31st or using a motor (only allowed in a few areas) are subject to the quota system and thus need to reserve a permit. Day paddlers or those not going during the permit season can enter for free by simply filling out a self issue permit. Once you have reserved a permit you still need to physically pick-up your permit before entering the BWCA. Permits can be picked...

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Hok Skis in the Boundary Waters

Over the last few days I had my first chance to try a pair of Hok skis, while camping and Lake Trout fishing in the Boundary Waters. During this trip, as with all winter trips, I was hauling a hot tent, camping gear and fishing equipment using sleds. For those unfamiliar with Hok skis they are a short and wide metal edged ski intended to be used in the backcountry. They have a built in skin which allows for easy climbing on hills and a slightly more controlled decent. Additionally they can be set up with universal bindings, which allow a traditional winter boot to be used while skiing. Universal bindings are critical in my opinion for a ski that is going to be used while camping, because keeping traditional ski boots dry and warm while not in use can be difficult. It also cuts down on one less item that needs to be packed in. When I first began winter camping in the Boundary Waters I primarily traveled on snowshoes or my classic skis intended for groomed trails. A few years ago I switched to pair of backcountry skis with a universal binding and quickly realized that I would...

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Winter Camping and Lake Trout

The Boundary Waters is home one of the largest concentration of native Lake Trout lakes in the United States and the winter is one the best times to target them. As many summer canoe guest know Lake Trout spend their summers in deep water. This is because Lake Trout are a true cold water fish species that require cold and well oxygenated water to survive. This can make Lake Trout tough to catch on your August canoe trip, but it mean they are active and feeding heavily all winter long. Lakes entirely within the BWCAW open to winter trout fishing in early January with Lakes outside or partially outside the BWCAW opening roughly two weeks later. Similar to summer fishing often times anglers can find the best fishing by traveling farther than other fisherman to find less pressured fish. This often means camping and in the winter the challenges of this activity make for a grand adventure. Unlike the summer Lake Trout can be found in just about any depth of water. I have caught them through the ice in as little as 12 feet of water or as deep as 70 feet of water. The structure you find fish...

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Lutsen Ski Rentals

Are you planning a winter downhill ski or snowboarding trip this winter? Be sure to stop by and see us. We rent Head and Fischer skis and take great pride in maintaining our gear. We offer rental pickups the day before you hit the slopes starting at 2 PM. You can enjoy sleeping in or having that extra cup of coffee in the morning knowing that you can be on the slopes as soon as you get to the mountain. Our rental rates are $32 per day for a standard ski package or $38 per day for a performance package. We also rent Head snowboards for $34 a day.  

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Cross Country Skiing near Lutsen Tofte MN

Improved North Shore Ski Trails

We consider ourselves lucky. We have some of the best ski trails in the region right outside our back door. And, if you head out to the Sugarbush Ski Trails, you'll notice they’re even BETTER than before. Why is that you ask? There has been a big upgrade to the grooming equipment used this season on the Sugarbush Ski Trails outside of Tofte and Lutsen, MN. This winter a 2016 Kassbohrer PB 100 Pisten Bully was purchased by the Sugarbush Trail Association, the organization that oversees the grooming and care of the trails.  If the trails weren’t great in past years (and we think they were), they certainly are now! In years past a 1992 Pisten Bully was used for grooming. Although it did a great job on the trails, the old Pisten Bully was somewhat outdated and frequently experienced mechanical issues. Because of the extreme winter weather that occurs along the north shore of Lake Superior, it is not unusual to see six foot drifts across trails or (because of the proximity to the lake), very heavy snow events or even freeze/thaw cycles that can turn the trail into a glacier. Although snowmobile grooming equipment can handle most conditions and...

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Picnic Loop Trail

The Picnic Loop Loop: A 25k North Shore Wilderness Experience

Are you an avid Nordic skier who wants an incredibly unique experience on Lake Superior's North Shore? If so, we highly recommend checking out the Picnic Loop. Skiing the 25k (15 mile) loop will not only offer you a great ski, but a great wilderness experience.   Our Recommendation: The Picnic Loop The Picnic Loop, a loop that winds through the Superior National Forest near Tofte and Lutsen, Minnesota, is unlike any other in the region. When skiing this loop, you’ll feel like you’re in the deep wilderness. There aren’t any developments along the trail and unlike other North Shore trails, it is not interrupted by roads or highways. It’s a true north woods experience! The trail rests on magnificent ski terrain that takes skiers along a ridgeline, through old growth boreal forest, and down into the Temperance River Valley. This means the trail offers long climbs and great descents, as well as outstanding views. The ridge introduces another enhanced element to the experience: SNOW! Because of the higher terrain that rises up from Lake Superior, the ridge creates an environment that accumulates a lot of snow. Typically, there will be much more snow on the ridge than there will be at lower elevations....

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Skin Skis vs. Traditional Classic Skis

Skin Skis on the North Shore

Skin Skis vs. Traditional Classic Skis One relatively new revolution in the cross country ski industry are skin skis. These no-wax skis have created a lot of buzz and have been changing the way we can ski here on the North Shore. What is a skin ski So, what is a skin ski and how are they different from a traditional cross country ski? A skin ski is a ski with a Teflon-infused synthetic grip section on the bottom of the ski instead of the traditional fish tail pattern. They have an advantage over traditional no-wax skis in icy and slippery conditions because the skins do a much better job of gripping the icy snow. Therefore, skiers can often go faster. Skin skis also do really well in warmer conditions when snow tends to clump together and stick on the bottom of traditional skis as the skin repels the snow. Skin skis were introduced in the 70s, but at the time ski construction was less technological, therefore they never gained popularity like they have recently. Here on the North Shore, we find Lake Superior changing the conditions of the snow often, which typically means our snow melts and refreezes. With these conditions, skiiers...

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Sugarloaf Cove

The North Shore of Lake Superior is filled with many popular tourist destinations, including state parks, countless waterfalls and stretches of incredible hiking trails. It is also lined with many beautiful areas that are often overlooked by travelers zooming by on Highway 61. One of those hidden treasures (though we do believe it is an up and coming North Shore destination for many) is the Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center near Schroeder, MN (just 10 miles from our store). Sugarloaf Cove is more than a beautiful Lake Superior cove to skip rocks in or  have a picnic by, though it is most certainly that. The surrounding plot of land is home to a short interpretive hiking trail and nature center that comes alive in the summer months with informative displays.  The center also offers classes throughout the spring, summer and fall months that vary from Boreal Botany to North Shore Geology. Be sure to visit their website and check out their event calendar this spring. Bird banding is also a popular event at Sugarloaf Cove. In September and October, trained volunteers band birds that live in and travel through the area (the large size of Lake Superior funnels high concentrations of birds...

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Eagle Mountain Adventure Hike in Minnesota (MN)

Hiking Eagle Mountain: Minnesota’s Highest Point

If you’re looking for a unique and challenging hike that takes you deep into the northwoods of Minnesota, you’ll want to make sure you add hiking to Eagle Mountain to your list of things to do. Eagle Mountain (or at least one of them… there’s also an Eagle Mountain located in the Lutsen Mountains ski area) is home to the highest point in Minnesota (2,301 feet in elevation) and the trail to get there cuts through Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, so you’ll be able to escape the constant and familiar hum of motors. The hike to the top is a challenging one. It is rated as a difficult trail since traversing over rocks and tree roots requires hikers to pay close attention to their footing. The trail extends from the trail head for 3.5 miles to the peak of Eagle Mountain. However, if taken slowly and/or aided with hiking poles, most hikers will find the challenge rewarding and the work worthwhile when they reach the top. Though there is a relatively steep grade to the trail within the last half mile or so towards the peak, most of the trail flows over rolling and manageable hill climbs. The trail travels...

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Matthew Baxley using the MSR Whisperlite in the Boundary Waters

The Right Stove For Your Adventure

  Know Your Options A few helpful things to consider when buying a stove is where and how you will use it and how much you can spend.  In Northern Minnesota, you are likely either car camping in a campground, backpacking part of the North Country Trail, or canoeing camping in the wilderness.  Different stoves will be more or less ideal for each of these experiences. The first consideration is weight.  Since a backpacker is literally carrying everything on their back, they tend to go as small and light as possible. On the other end of the weight continuum are the car campers with the freedom to travel with a stove of considerable size and weight.  In between are the canoe campers, with some preferring to go small and light while others willingly take on the extra weight of a stove with more bells and whistles. All-In-One Stove System The stove that garnishes the most attention for its unique design and twin burner cook system is the Genesis from Jetboil, an excellent choice for either car camping or for canoe country.  By far, it's most compelling advantage is the ability to utilize two burners simultaneously while being compact enough to fold in half for...

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