The small town of Grand Marais, in far northeastern Minnesota, is a good jumping-off point for outdoor activities in the region. The Lutsen Mountain area is said to be the Midwest's largest ski complex, with runs for all levels of expertise. (The Lutsen Mountain Resort was founded by the family of Cindy Nelson, the former U.S. Olympic skier.) In the summer, you can go mountain biking in the area, enjoy an alpine slide and take a gondola ride that affords breathtaking views of Lake Superior and Superior National Forest. Lodging and restaurants can be found at the base of the mountain, in Grand Marais and in the nearby towns of Lutsen and Tofte.
North of Grand Marais is the Gunflint Trail (Highway 12), which runs inland from the lakeshore, crossing Superior National Forest and Pat Boyle State Forest. A number of resorts, as well as lakeside campsites managed by the U.S. Forest Service, are located along the trail. In summer, the area is great for fishing (with many deep, spring-fed trout lakes) and for boating, canoeing and kayaking (the trail runs along the eastern edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness). In winter, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing are popular. A system of ski trails connects various resorts (some luxurious, others more spartan) along the Gunflint Trail. Try staying in one of the yurts, the Mongolian shelters that are a cross between a tent and a cabin. Many of the lodgings come with a cook to prepare meals, and it's possible to have a snowmobile transport your heavier gear to the next stop so that you ski with only a light pack. Grand Marais is 225 mi/360 km northeast of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
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