Gunflint Trail Cross-Country Ski Resorts Invest in New Infrastructure to Enhance the Ski Experience


 Gunflint Trail Cross-Country Ski Resorts Invest in New Infrastructure to Enhance the Ski Experience

Meet the MVP of Cook County Ski Trails: the  Pistenbully PB 100

Meet the MVP of Cook County Ski Trails: the  Pistenbully PB 100 – photo by Ruth Wagner of Golden Eagle Lodge

February 11, 2021 – Cook County, Minn.     Visit Cook County invites cross-country ski enthusiasts to experience a transformed, modern ski experience in Minnesota’s arrowhead region. After investing in new grooming infrastructure, the trails in Cook County are expertly groomed and ready to be skied. Spend your days exploring over 400km of beautiful trails throughout the region and embrace Hygge and all things cozy once the sun goes down.

“Whether you’re a new skier or an experienced veteran, you’ll find endless opportunities for adventure in Cook County this winter,” said Linda Jurek, Visit Cook County Executive Director. “Resort owners throughout Cook County have made significant investments to our grooming equipment, so visitors can enjoy the very best skiing in the state. Head north! We’d love to see you.”

Cook County sees an average of 120 inches of annual snowfall in the stunning Superior National Forest. Come February and March, the trails truly transform into an epic winter wonderland. Our large network of trails is meticulously groomed all season long, creating optimal conditions for the perfect ski.

Meet the MVP of Cook County Ski Trails: the  Pistenbully PB 100

The key to an excellent cross country-ski experience is flawless grooming. In the last few years, significant investments into grooming equipment were made to both the Central Gunflint and Sugarbush Ski Trail Systems, replacing equipment that was from the 1980s. The Central Gunflint Ski Trail System, managed cooperatively by Bearskin Lodge & Golden Eagle Lodge, are known throughout the state for their impeccable grooming. By investing in upgraded equipment, conditions are only getting better.

The Pistenbully is quiet, fast, powerful and eco-friendly, and it streamlined grooming work instantly with a larger and improved tiller. An attachable cutter blade helps break up ice or packed snow with ease all right from the groomer cockpit saving both time and energy. With a firm base, smooth snow and 12’ wide trails, skiing between Golden Eagle and Bearskin is excellent.

“This winter started out strong with good snow early, but then we had a few weeks without significant fresh snowfall and warmer weather. However, because of the new grooming equipment the trails have remained in great condition because we are now able to break up the snow crystals and set them into a strong base,” explained Ruth Wagner, owner of Golden Eagle Lodge. An incredible cross-country ski experience draws hundreds of visitors each winter, and lodge owners have taken time to curate truly magical adventures. Extend your cross-country adventures into the evening and try night skiing with old-fashioned kerosene-style lamps along the 3km Wolf Point trail, or other lit trails near Bearskin Lodge.

Track Your Progress with GPS Mapping

One of the best parts about cross-country skiing is spending hours deep within the wilderness, but it’s nice to know where you’re at on the trail. The Sugarbush, Norpine, Bally Creek and Pincushion trails have georeferenced digital maps available for download and use with apps like Avenza. Once downloaded into a phone or digital device, a wayfinding app can place a dot on the map right where you are, even without a cell or wifi connection. Cell coverage is spotty deep within the Superior National Forest, so these maps are essential to a safe and fun journey.

Head up to Cook County for a cross-country ski getaway! Browse trail conditions in Lutsen and Tofte, Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail for updated grooming reports, insight from fellow skiers and ideas on where to start your next cross-country ski adventure.

View the Cook County Ski Trail Map and plan a trip north today.


 Visit Cook County, Minnesota

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior.”  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently, it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitorsFacebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at

Nothing better than a freshly groomed trail - by Ruth Wagner of Golden Eagle Lodge on the Gunflint Trail

Nothing better than a freshly groomed trail – by Ruth Wagner of Golden Eagle Lodge on the Gunflint Trail

New Fat-tire Biking Opportunities Fill The Winter Void on the North Shore


New Fat-tire Biking Opportunities Fill The Winter Void on the North Shore

Winter groomed fat tire bike trails

Winter groomed fat tire bike trails on the Norpine Ski Trail system in Lutsen

There is always something to do outdoors in the State Parks along the North Shore. This year’s snowfall has not set records, but that does not stop people from enjoying the great outdoors in the north-country. The fat-tire trail conditions at Split Rock Lighthouse and Cascade River state parks are in great mid-season form – – packed and firm – – and the summer crowds are gone, so now is the perfect time to explore these Minnesota State Parks.

Fat-tire bikes are an off-road bicycle with oversized tires, designed for low ground pressure to allow riding on soft, unstable terrain, such as snow, sand, and mud. The wide tires can be used with low-inflation pressures to allow for a smooth ride over rough obstacles. The sport is growing in popularity and more trails are accommodating this new outdoor winter sport.

At Split Rock Lighthouse State Park north of Duluth, 8.2 miles of fat-tire biking is available on multi-use trails where fat-tire bikers, hikers and snowshoers can all enjoy the same designated, packed trails. The trails are family-friendly and offer a great first-time experience for beginners. The trails meander through the park, follow the shoreline of Lake Superior, and offer amazing views along the way. A valid MN State Park Pass is required and parking can be found in the park at either the Trail Center or the Pebble Beach parking lots.

At Cascade River State Park, a partnership with the Norpine Ski Association has permitted 11 miles of new fat-tire bike trails (also see Facebook Norpine Ski Association) on select cross-country skiing trails. A generous accommodation has been made alongside the ski trails so that fat-bikers can also use the trail.  These trails are some of the most scenic along the Sawtooth Mountains. These multiple-use trails are experimental and may provide an avenue to maintain and grow outdoor winter activities and trail grooming – please be courteous when using the groomed trails. Fat-bike trail users are asked to consider buying a Great Minnesota State Ski Pass to help support trail grooming efforts. The trails can be accessed from several trailheads along Highway 61 and County Road 45 near the town of Lutsen. Call Cascade River State Park to learn more about winter activities at the park.

There is still plenty of winter left to try fat-tire biking. If you don’t own a fat-tire bicycle, several bicycle shops in Duluth, the surrounding area, and along the North Shore rent them. Additionally, hotels and other lodging facilities are catching onto this sport and can often time help bikers find the best trails in the area.  Make a plan to visit the North Shore this winter and find out why so many people return year after year.

More information about these trails is available by calling or emailing Split Rock Lighthouse State Park or Cascade River State Park.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Phone: 218-595-7625



Cascade River State Park

Phone:  218-387-6001



Fat Bikes can be rented at: 

Sawtooth Outfitters, Tofte, MN | (218) 663-7643

Spokengear Cyclery & Outdoor, Two Harbors | (218) 834-2117

Continental Ski & Bike, Duluth | (218) 728-4466