January 5th, 2021Nordic Skiing Adventures near Lutsen, Minnesota
There’s never been a more alluring time to master Nordic skiing far up Minnesota’s North Shore near the delightful Cascade Lodge, located only a few strides from the state’s prettiest trail system, flawlessly maintained by the Norpine Trail Association. The current climate has led to a resurgence of Nordic skiers in the Midwest, ranging in levels of expertise. For those new to the sport, there’s perhaps no better place in North America to work on your biceps, triceps, deltoids, and pectorals than the North Shore, especially near Lake Superior’s mountainous rim. Nordic skiing near Lutsen is arguably the most popular winter sport, holding steady with the likes of alpine skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Nordic skiers have access to four unique trail systems from Cascade Lodge’s creekside property, spanning dozens of miles from Schroeder up to Grand Marais’ Bally Creek Road.
Naturally, we’re beginning our quest toward sheer North Shore tranquility on the well-groomed Norpine Ski Trails, featuring over 65 kilometers of backcountry glory. The system meanders into the dense forestry directly north of Cascade Lodge, adjacent to Cascade River State Park. While four trailheads supply instant access to the system, the easiest point of entrance remains Cascade Lodge along historic Highway 61. Experienced Nordic skiers will relish the journey to and from Lookout Mountain, Deer Yard Lake, and the Old Cascade Fire Tower. Norpine hooks up with both Cascade River State Park, Bally Creek, and a westerly, Norpine-maintained jaunt to the Lutsen Mountains—a strenuous, albeit enthralling escapade.
Thom McAleer, co-owner and operator at Cascade Lodge, remains a Norpine Trail Association board member, so our lakeside haven is tailor-made to suit your Nordic skiing pleasures and needs. Don’t forget to donate to the Association or volunteer (email firstname.lastname@example.org) your time. To purchase The Great Minnesota Ski Pass, please visit the DNR’s website.
While the Norpine Ski Trails don’t technically connect with the Sugarbush Trail (they’re separated by less than a mile in the Lutsen Mountains), this 77-kilometer system remains an integral part of Lutsen’s nordic skiing scene. Sugarbush is known for its Oberg Loop, which connects with the serene Onion River Road. Thrill-seekers can also take a “break” from skiing with a hike up Leveaux Mountain, Carlton Peak, or Britton Peak. The northerly Maple and Upland Loop combo is perfect for novices, while the 22-to-30-kilometer Picnic Loop is a bucket list-esque experience for expert skiers. All in all, nature enthusiasts could spend an entire week at Cascade Lodge and never cover all of this mountainous, densely-thicketed terrain.
To book a long-awaited Nordic skiing experience in Lutsen, please check availability online. Historic Cascade Lodge is not only a premier four-season adventurer’s basecamp, but it boasts a wide variety of accommodations, ranging from log cabins to luxury homes and recently-renovated guest rooms. A reservationist is also available at 218-387-1112. Don’t let winter pass you by—the time to explore the North Shore’s wintry wonderland is now!