Written by haslo04 on 23 Feb, 2009
I doubt there is a fuller way to experience winter than on an ice fishing trip to Northern Minnesota. Proper ice fishing is done on a wide, windswept expanse of a frozen lake that glistens in the sun and howls with the wind.…Read More
I doubt there is a fuller way to experience winter than on an ice fishing trip to Northern Minnesota. Proper ice fishing is done on a wide, windswept expanse of a frozen lake that glistens in the sun and howls with the wind. It is a harsh place, sometimes miles away from shore, and fully exposed to the elements. Complementing this scheme is a comfortable abode, sitting in the middle of the ice and offering warmth, shelter and potential for catching your own food. This combination of wild, frozen outdoors surrounding a warmly protected refuge has a primeval appeal that is hard to explain. It all starts with the location. Lake Mille Lacs in Northern Minnesota is ground zero for ice fishing in the U.S. Imagine a lake that is about 30 miles long and 20 miles wide, covered completely with three feet of ice. There are about 5,000 ice fishing houses on Lake Mille Lacs during winter and they are all connected via a network of ice roads, with plowed surfaces and temporary road signs. The entire lake basically transforms into a sizable town of little homes, ranging from tiny tents to ice fishing resorts. Most of the homes are about 2x6 meters and are highly mobile. Ice fishermen use pick-up trucks to drag these structures on ice and transport them from one fishing spot to another. Before the advent of diesel augurs, drilling holes was quite hard and allowed for only several holes a day. Today, the augurs allow for drilling over a 100 holes a day and it is not uncommon to move the entire house to several new locations a day in pursuit of better catch.Our day started early in the morning on a crisp January Saturday. We arrived at our guide's house/lakefront resort in a town of Isle, MN on the southern shore of Lake Mille Lacs. Just a week later the town of Isle registered -35 F with -50 F windchill, but our trip took place in a positively balmy +10 F. Our guide for the day was Tim Chapman of Chapman Resorts, a small resort on the southern tip of the lake. The shores of Lake Mille Lacs are virtually lined with resorts and the key is to find a dedicated owner operator who will guide you with a sense of pride and dedication not usually found among the larger corporate providers. Tim was an excellent guide and less than a minute from the introductory handshake, we found ourselves driving our unsuspecting Honda Coupe straight off the boating ramp onto the ice. The ice we drove onto was 2.5 feet thick and it did not even heave under our weight. Before long we were driving at 30 miles an hour, which is not advisable on icy pavement, but is somehow possible on pure ice. For all its expanse, the surface of the lake is far from flat; rather, it receives many inches of snow, which gets sculpted by the wind and becomes quite undriveable. Most trucks on the lake have plows to make way from the main road to the desired fishing spots and Tim's truck was thus equipped. Here we were, ready to fish.Step out onto a frozen lake, register the miles of glistening snow around you, take a deep breath, and you will understand the wonder of winter. With the blue sky above us and the crunching of ice under our boots, we explored the site and watched Tim clear the snow around the house to benefit the underwater cameras. As we walked towards the house, I noticed smoke coming out of the chimney and felt like a 16th century trapper coming home to a warm hut. Turns out, Tim had it preheated for us and ready to roll with four ice holes in the corners. The house was simple and cozy. It had two bunk beds for overnight stays, a row of ice fishing poles on the wall, a heater and a small table. It was just big enough for three guys and turned out to be a perfect base for the whole day. There are two fundamentally different ways to ice fish. The traditionalists dress in waterproof coverals, don water resistant snow boots, drill a hole and spend their day sitting or standing by it for hours. Majority of ice fishermen prefer the modern way of the ice house, where they sit comfortably in their shelter, drink beer and watch the fish dance on the underwater cameras. Kostas, being Greek, was difficult to convince to come outside and spent most of the day in the warm hut, fascinated by the underwater fauna of Lake Mille Lacs. The camera system is quite simple. Our house had four ice holes in the floor, one in each corner. Tim would drop a camera in one hole and point it towards the other hole, getting a great view of the water surrounding our bait. The camera gave us some great insights. It took us an hour to catch our first fish and without the camera, we'd think there were no fish under us. The camera, however, clearly showed dozens of perch all around our bait, just unwilling to bite. We used fresh minnow heads for bait and were quite puzzled why they were not biting, but Tim attributed it to the day’s high atmospheric pressure somehow affecting the biting habits of fish under the ice. With the full view of the fish, Kostas learned to literally tease them with minnows and finally convinced several specimens to bite. He caught a bunch of perch this way, throwing most of them back for being below the limit of 7 inches. He spent hours looking intently into the screen and I just could not get him out to taste the outdoors.While Kostas was inside staring at schools of perch ignoring his minnow heads, I spent the time with Tim fishing the holes outside. As any great guide, Tim was full of local stories and practical advice. He'd tell me stories of rich guys from the South (i.e. Minneapolis) flying in their small planes and landing them on the ice roads. The planes would have special heated tents attached to their wings, so the guys just fished from underneath their own wings. He told me how most of the houses stood empty this season due to the economic downturn and how he sold his bigger resort just in time. He also pointed to a small tent next to our spot and told me that his brother was fishing there. I met his brother later, and realized these men have true love for this sport. Here was Tim, working as a guide and earning money, but really just doing what he loved and what he would have probably been doing if we were not there. The man has it figured out.We spent a full day on the lake. We drilled some holes, played with snow and drove around to explore the network of ice roads. It was a photographic paradise for me and I spent as much time lying on ice in pursuit of some good angles as I did fishing. I did catch two fish from one of my own holes, as many as Kostas did from inside the house. Towards the evening, we considered renting the house for the night and try some night fishing, but decided to go for dinner in a nearby casino instead. Now I regret we had not stayed. I'd love to step out of that house in the middle of the night and listen to silence of a frozen lake. Maybe next time.Practical tips:Where: Town of Isle, MN, on the southern shore of Lake Mille Lacs.When: January or February.Guide: Tim ChapmanChapman's Mille Lacs Lake Resort P.O. Box 121Isle, MN 56342 (320) 676-8664http://www.millelacsresort.com/ Close
Written by haslo04 on 14 Aug, 2008
Think Minnesota and clear lakes with tall timber come to mind. Well, after seven years in the rural southeastern corner of the state, we finally decided to give proper Minnesota a visit. We ended up in a canoe within a national park without…Read More
Think Minnesota and clear lakes with tall timber come to mind. Well, after seven years in the rural southeastern corner of the state, we finally decided to give proper Minnesota a visit. We ended up in a canoe within a national park without roads, facing a labyrinth of islands scattered across the lake system called Voyageur's National Park. When U.S. Congress designated Minnesota’s wilderness along the Canadian border as Voyageurs National Park in 1971, they sought to preserve one of the essential experiences of early American life. The said experience involved a 250 year old tradition of exploration driven by fur-trapping expeditions of great trading companies. They all came here in search of bevar pelts that were in great demand to produce felt hats used by Europe's nobility and emerging business class. In the end, the heart of the American continent was explored not in the search of gold or land, but to satisfy the demand for something as trivial as a hat. The heyday of the fur trade took place in the 1700’s, when a great trading network was in operation in that region. Indians trapped beaver in the wintertime, when the fur was at its most illustrious. They collected small stashes of fur and transported them by their birch bark canoes to the posts in the spring. The posts were connected to company headquarters by what can only be described as canoe highways, where huge 16-person canoe "tractor trailers" of the day transported upto 4 tons of material per canoe. The paddlers manning the canoes were called voyagers, or rough outdoors men capable of paddling 16 hours a day for two months. Voyageurs National Park had been a part of this large canoe highway in those times and has been named in the honor of the men who operated it.Voyageurs is the only national park in America without a road. It comprises of several large lakes dotted with dozens of little islands to be explored with a boat. It offers a wonderful experience of simply getting into the canoe and going wherever you want. The northern shore of the main Lake Kabetogama represents the great American northwoods, full of fir, birch and occasional beaver. The park also hosts about 150 black bears, so standard bear precautions are in order. The plan to visit the park is simple. I would recommend visiting Lake Kabetogama, as it is the largest and the most interesting. There are two visitor centers on the lake. The Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center services the western part of the lake that is more suitable for canoeing for relative lack of motorized traffic. The Ash River Visitor Center caters to the eastern part of the lake, where people like to rent houseboats and explore some attractions such as Kettle Falls. A logical plan is to drive up to the lake one evening and camp at the Woodenfrog Campground near the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center. That only costs $12 a night and seldom fills up -- no reservations needed! The next morning you can approach any of the many cabin resprts that occupy the southern shore of the lake and rent canoes or kayaks. We rented from the Arrowhead Lodge, who were excellent hosts. They outfitted us with maps, boating gear and even a waterproof camera bag. Once you rent the canoe, the lake is your canvas. We spent the first hald day just exploring the lake and finding a campsite. Having a detailed campsite map is a must and it is a good idea to get to a campsite early, as they are on first come and first serve basis. The beauty of the northern shore is that it is totally wild. It also contains a number to trails heading further north, towards smaller, even wilder lakes. Locator Lake, one hour long hike from Kabetogama, actually has a shed with canoes managed by the park service. We rented them in the Visitor Center, obtaining boat access to even more pristine body of water, totally surrounded by thick northwoods. Mixing the hiking with the paddling was a neat way to spend the day.Overall, Voygeur's National Park offers a quiet, peaceful way to spend a few days. Just imagine slowly paddling across perfectly still water, under the pink cover of a sunsetting sky, and with loons and wolves singing in the distance. Hard to imagine a better way to spend a summer evening. Voyageurs National Park:http://www.nps.gov/voya/planyourvisit/index.htmArrowhead Lodge:http://www.arrowheadlodgeresort.com/ Close
Written by callen60 on 14 Aug, 2007
Despite Johan Kohl's lament, it was inevitable that the power of the Mississippi's St. Anthony's Falls would be fully tapped. The River’s power was first harnessed for cutting lumber, although the soldiers at Fort Snelling also pioneered its use for grinding flour. Both industries were…Read More
Despite Johan Kohl's lament, it was inevitable that the power of the Mississippi's St. Anthony's Falls would be fully tapped. The River’s power was first harnessed for cutting lumber, although the soldiers at Fort Snelling also pioneered its use for grinding flour. Both industries were well established when Kohl lamented the falls' usurpation by commerce in the mid-1800s. Lumber eventually yielded the waterfront to grain, and the ruins of the milling industry are now preserved and explained in brand new Mill Ruins Park.The structures on the banks themselves are largely gone, although foundations and a few walls can be seen. A walkway runs along the west/south shore, with a large number of signs chronicling the growth and decay of mills and Minneapolis itself. Buildings behind the River, and along Washington Avenue, have been reclaimed for use, including the Mill City Museum, which is far more interesting than you might suppose--the history of the milling industry is the history of Minneapolis. The complex sits just behind the ruins of Washburn A, the huge complex built by the company that evolved into General Mills. This modern, celebrated factory exploded in 1889, taking the lives of a few dozen employees. The financial rewards of milling were too great not to rebuild, and the golden age began, as Minneapolis produced the flour that fed the nation, if not the world. Most of it came from the fields of the upper Midwest, but the flourmen used the railway to bring harvests from across the country. Maps of the country’s railways and bushels per year illustrate how they processed crops from across the country with the power provided by St. Anthony’s Falls. The men who ran the mills ran the state, with several serving terms as U.S. Senators at the peak of the milling industry.In the end, the development of electric power moved the center of the grain industry away from Minneapolis. By the 1930s, Buffalo had replaced the Twin Cities as the nation’s flour producing capital. General Mills maintained its headquarters here (and still does) but gradually reduced its presence on the river and at other area locations. The area sat abandoned for several decades, its status highlighted by a 1991 fire eerily reminiscent of the earlier Washburn A explosion. Mill Ruins Park preserves that original structure, with the jagged shell of the building open to the sky, its twisted beams now a setting for evening summer concerts and other activities. Exiting through the riverside door, be sure to note the lentil above the door that memorializes the nearly 20 victims of the explosions. It’s clear that this disaster shook the young city, calling into question the foundation that had driven its rapid growth and expansion.To your left are what now passes for the falls, both preserved and tamed by years of work by the Corps of Engineers. The locks are here, too, and the riverboat Minneapolis Queen docks further upstream, providing another chance for a river tour and a passage through the locks. To the right is the large green space that begins Mill Ruins Park, featuring pleasant gardens, thick green grass, and what has to be an artificial mound whose peak is reached via a gently climbing spiral path. As my afternoon wound to a close, I kicked off my sandals and took a steeper, greener path to the top. The cool grass felt great between my toes, and I gazed out over the river and all it had wrought before heading back down to meet my brother for dinner. Close
Written by karameister on 03 Aug, 2005
Minneapolis and Saint Paul have one of the highest bicycle-commuting populations in the country, which means that there is a wealth of bike shops to choose from. Which ones are the best or have the best selection? I frequent many of the area shops, and…Read More
Minneapolis and Saint Paul have one of the highest bicycle-commuting populations in the country, which means that there is a wealth of bike shops to choose from. Which ones are the best or have the best selection? I frequent many of the area shops, and here are some highlights of where to go for what you’re looking for.
There are two large locally-owned chains in the greater Twin Cities area: Erik’s Bike Shop and Penn Cycle. Erik’s has more locations, about 10 in all to Penn Cycle’s six. Penn Cycle has been around longer, though, almost 50 years to Erik’s almost 30. These shops have a wide selection of bikes, apparel, and accessories, as well as full-service repair shops. On the other hand, neither shop has many specialty bikes, so if you’re looking for a track bike or cruiser, these are not the places to go. In the off-season, Erik’s carries snowboards and Penn carries fitness equipment.
If you’re not interested in one of the larger shops, there are 10 or 15 smaller shops in the area. The advantage to smaller shops is the staff. Their knowledge is generally better since they all seem to ride regularly, and they can offer more suggestions. The downside is that their prices are sometimes higher, simply because they cannot sell the quantity that the big guys can.
Freewheel Bike: This fairly large shop is located on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota campus, at 1812 S. 6th St. Freewheel acts like one of the bigger stores - they have a wide selection and their prices are reasonable. They have a wide selection of mountain, road, and comfort bikes, and several different brands. The great perk that they offer is renting out their repair shop. For a small fee, you can use all of their tools and a stand to fix your bike yourself.
Behind Bars: This smaller shop was opened just over a year ago and has already earned the distinction of "Best Bike Shop" by the City Pages. Behind Bars is run by Chuck and his wife, Stephanie, and is located at 208 13th Ave. NE, in northeast Minneapolis. They specialize in track bikes, single-speeds, and lower-priced, but high-quality, racing bikes. Chuck does most of the mechanical work by himself and has been in the bicycle business at different shops for over 10 years. Behind Bars is the only bike shop you will find in northeast Minneapolis.
Gateway Cycle: This log cabin-style shop is located just across the street from the Gateway Bike Trail, at 6028 Hwy, 36 Blvd, N in Oakdale. They carry a number of larger brands and everything from road to comfort to BMX. Gateway is smaller than it looks from the outside, but if they don't carry an item or don't have it in stock, just ask! The employees are more than willing to place special orders. Even though the selection here isn't huge, the location is great if your bike acts up along the trail.
Now Bikes and Fitness: Now has two locations, one at 75 N. Snelling Ave. in Saint Paul and one at 3673 Lexington Ave. N. in Arden Hills. Now carries a wide range of... well, everything! They offer riding groups in summer and training classes in winter, so there's always something to do there. A word of warning, though: they don't always have a mechanic on-site, so your bike may not get fixed for a few days.
Flanders Brothers: If you don’t have at least $3000 to spend on a racing bike, don’t patronize Flanders. They carry only high-end equipment and gear, and the staff is ridiculously stuck up. This is a good place to go for custom racing fittings and expensive form-fit jerseys, but other than that, it’s not worth the trip. You can find Flanders Brothers at 2707 Lyndale Ave. in Minneapolis.
Bicycle Chain: This is a small neighborhood shop located at 1712 Lexington Ave. N. in St. Paul, just down the road from Como Park. The staff is friendly and they know what they are doing, but Bicycle Chain is highly overpriced. I bought a chain there for $20 that would cost $15 at any other store. Bicycle Chain also carries Litespeed, which is a brand that very few other shops in the area stock.
Grand Performance: This shop is centered on one brand – Bianchi. Grand Performance carries most of their bicycles, but focuses on the higher-end road bikes. They are not snobs, though. If you bring in your beater Target bikes, they’ll still fix it with a smile. The owner is almost always there, and he has a very friendly greyhound dog that hangs out in the store. Grand Performance is located at 1938 Grand Ave. in St. Paul.
County Cycles: This is a small shop in Roseville, just outside of both Minneapolis and Saint Paul, located at 2700 Lexington Ave. N. County Cycles carries many brands of bicycle equipment that most other places do not, like Louis Garneau, but they also carry more popular brands, like Bianchi. You'll want to go here if you want personal attention and friendly staff the moment you walk in the door, and a shop that's willing to lend you their tools to make your own fix.
So, if you're not interested in buying a bike, where can you go to rent one? Penn Cycle does rentals out of their Bloomington location, but only road and high-end mountain bikes. Your best option is probably Calhoun Cycle. They are located at 3342 Hennepin Ave. S., which is right off of Lake Calhoun. They sell mostly recumbent and folding bikes, but also rent bikes, and there are several bike trails nearby. Enjoy the ride!
Written by SavageMan on 26 Aug, 2005
Ole Man River… The mighty Mississippi… It rolls on and divides our country in two, creating a great boundary between east and west, spilling out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Where does this great river begin? What is its source? This was a great debate…Read More
Ole Man River… The mighty Mississippi… It rolls on and divides our country in two, creating a great boundary between east and west, spilling out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Where does this great river begin? What is its source? This was a great debate for many years as explorers attempted to discover the true source. Several options were considered over the years, but finally, scientists and geologists agreed—Lake Itasca was the true source of this great river.
Lake Itasca and Itasca State Park are great places to relax, hike, and make a trek to the humble beginnings of the great Mississippi. From Breezy Point, the park is about 70 miles to the northwest. It is a beautiful drive through this vacation land of fishing and hunting. You pass through great pine forests and by Leech Lake (once thought the source of the Mississippi and another very popular vacation area).
We entered through the southeast gate of the park. It was immediately evident that this is a very popular park for biking. There were many bikers and bike trails, as well as a full bike outfitter located in the park. The lake and woods are very beautiful, and there are several stops where one can enjoy the view. We parked at a lakeside stop with a museum that contained interesting information about the park, the river’s beginnings, the logging industry, and forest growth and regeneration. From this point, we could see that it was less than one-half mile to the headwaters. We could have driven but instead chose the very pleasant hike through the forest.
At the beginnings of this river, the water flows north out of the lake to the city of Bemidji and then winds south through Brainerd, on through the Twin Cities, and off towards the Gulf. While already at Brainerd, the river looks as one might expect it to look with its wide expanse. At the headwaters, it is narrow and shallow. All of us, including our children, could easily wade across the river’s beginning. There is a rock crossing as well as a bridge, so virtually anyone can cross and see both sides of this river’s headwaters.
While the Mississippi headwaters are a highlight of Itasca state park, there is much more to the park, including some great hiking, biking, and driving trails. A driving trail not to be missed begins near the headwaters area and continues for 10 miles around the undeveloped side of the lake. There are several stops with nice short hikes of about one-half mile each where one can experience the forest and wildlife.
The views and scenery of the park are incredible, and this is a place not to be missed and that can be enjoyed by young and old.
Written by RachelKay on 13 Oct, 2002
We only spent a day here but still took in quite a few things. First off, stop at the currency exchange in the little strip mall right before the border crossing and get some cash. The border crossing is no problem - they didn't even…Read More
We only spent a day here but still took in quite a few things. First off, stop at the currency exchange in the little strip mall right before the border crossing and get some cash. The border crossing is no problem - they didn't even ask us for I.D. I guess we weren't suspicious looking. Thunder Bay is maybe 45 minutes beyond Grand Portage. The town isn't all that different than an American small city. We went to the amethyst mine about a half hour northeast of Thunder Bay on 11/17, got a brief tour, and then dug for our own amethysts. We took home a large bag of amethysts for a few dollars and dumped them in our fish tank.
Another thing to do is go shopping at the mall. The prices are cheap compared to U.S. prices and a lot of the shops are different than here (but a lot are the same, such as Sears and Wal-Mart.)
We also drove up to the Mt. McKay scenic lookout (Take Hwy. 61B off Hwy. 61 and follow the signs). There is a short drive up the mountain through a birch forest, beautiful in fall, but you have to stop and pay a couple dollars to go up. At the top you get to overlook the city and the harbor.
Also, if you aren't sick of waterfalls by this time, check out Kakebeka Falls Provincial Park. It is 15 - 20 miles west of the city on 11/17. We didn't have time for Old Fort William, but have heard it's very good. It is the world's largest reconstruction of an early 1800's fur trading post with costumed staff reenacting daily life.
--Drive up the short curvy road to the top of Palisade Head (before the entrance to Tettagouche State Park). The views of the lake at the top are beautiful. Take a stroll to the right of the parking lot and observe the face of the…Read More
--Drive up the short curvy road to the top of Palisade Head (before the entrance to Tettagouche State Park). The views of the lake at the top are beautiful. Take a stroll to the right of the parking lot and observe the face of the tall cliff.
--Take a hike along the Superior Hiking Trail. There are many access points along Hwy. 61. This is named one of the world's top 25 trails and is 200 miles long. It winds along rivers, waterfalls, and through forests. It is possible to hire a shuttle service if you don't want to double back for your car.
--Visit the Father Baragass Cross at the base of the Cross River. It is a very short hike from the parking lot. The cross was originally placed by a missionary whose life was spared after he was swept safely to shore in a storm as he was crossing the lake. There is a sign pointing the way shortly after the highway bridge at the Cross River Falls in Shroeder.
--During the fall season (especially early fall), take a drive along the Heartbreak Ridge. It is a very pretty maple-canopied drive, a blazing gold. From Hwy 61 head N. on the Temperance River Road (Forest Rd. 343) then east on 166 (six hundred road?), and S. on County Rd. 2 (the Sawbill Trail).
--Drive up the Gunflint Trail, which begins in Grand Marais. We drove up a short distance and it became very foggy so we had to turn back, but could tell it would have been a scenic drive through the forest. There are many fine lodges along the trail and outfitters for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
--Visit Grand Portage National Monument, just before Grand Portage State Park. The monument includes a few historic reconstructed buildings and the eight mile portage used by fur traders on their way to the Northwest. The monument was the summer headquarters for the North West Fur Company until 1802. Costumed interpreters explain the history and demonstrate crafts (probably more in summer than when we were there). We went Sept. 30th and there were only a couple guys in costume and hardly any people there. But it was still interesting and admission for adults was only a couple dollars.
If you enjoy history or are interested in logging or fishing, this is a good place to go. It is in between Duluth and Two Harbors right off Old Scenic Highway 61 (the desired route between Duluth and Two Harbors). It gives a good idea…Read More
If you enjoy history or are interested in logging or fishing, this is a good place to go. It is in between Duluth and Two Harbors right off Old Scenic Highway 61 (the desired route between Duluth and Two Harbors). It gives a good idea of what life used to be like along the North Shore. It is an outdoor museum set up as a reconstructed logging camp.
There are eight historically authentic buildings to visit, spread throughout a conifer forest: a trading post, museum, harness shop, shoemaker's shop, horseshoeing stall, horse barn and blacksmith shop, bunkhouse and cook's shanty, the Knife River Fishing Museum, and a Finnish sauna. Also, make sure to check out the Gravity House.
There are also a lot of animals to feed including llamas, goats, and trout, so bring some quarters. You won't be able to resist feeding the goats. Supposedly there are tame deer along the hiking trail but we didn't see them. There were also pet rabbits hopping around the camp at their leisure.
We enjoyed the fact that the entire time we were there we only saw a couple other people and no one was watching over us. Admission is a few dollars per person (less for children). There is also a gift and souvenir shop to browse (the trading post). You do not need to pay admission to get into the shop. There are animal mountings on the walls as well as traps and horns. There is also a large selection of souvenirs such as moccasins, handicraft from the Sioux and Chippewa tribes, jewelry, pottery, dolls, and jams and syrups native to Minnesota.
Lutsen is most well-known for its skiing in winter but has activities May - Oct. as well. Get a brochure to determine schedule and rates or go to lutsen.com.This would be an especially fun activity to do with kids. You can take a chairlift to…Read More
Lutsen is most well-known for its skiing in winter but has activities May - Oct. as well. Get a brochure to determine schedule and rates or go to lutsen.com.
This would be an especially fun activity to do with kids. You can take a chairlift to the top of the mountain and an "alpine slide" back down to the bottom. You run down a curvy concrete slide through the woods on a little cart with brakes. Young kids can ride on the same cart with a parent. I must caution to take it easy. I know of one person (no names mentioned) who flew off his cart and skinned his arms pretty badly.
You can also take a Gondola ride up to the top of one of the mountains where there is a cafe. However, when we went this was closed (under construction?) so they opened up the "mystery chairlift" to take it's place. You can either ride the chairlift back down the hill once you get off at the top, or hike back down on a trail through the woods. In my opinion this wasn't worth the extra money, though it was very scenic, but not much different than the chairlift up to the alpine slides. I would have preferred trying the Gondola ride up to the cafe.
They also have mountain bikes for rent which you could have hauled up with you on the chairlift and trails to ride, though we didn't do this. This is a good place to go in fall because of the great views of the changing colors.
You can buy an all-activities unlimited pass for $19 on the internet or $23 on site, or buy tickets for individual rides. If I had known the Gondola was closed, I would have just bought tickets for a few rides on the Alpine slide (we were a little annoyed that the mountain bike chairlifts and the Gondola weren't operating, but they still charged the same rates for the all-activities pass).
There was at least one restaurant on-site (besides the closed deli on top of the mountain). It is called Papa Charlie's Saloon and Grill. We sat on the patio on the back with a view of the hills. The food selection was very limited, and somewhat pricey. We ordered a bratwurst with fries and a bowl of wild rice soup. The brat had a lot of junk on it and was very messy, but it was good.
Written by RachelKay on 12 Oct, 2002
Visiting the state parks and hiking around is an absolute must, especially if you enjoy nature. Bring your camera! Gooseberry Falls State Park is the most visited state park in Minnesota. It has five waterfalls and a number of trails along with an interpretive center…Read More
Visiting the state parks and hiking around is an absolute must, especially if you enjoy nature. Bring your camera! Gooseberry Falls State Park is the most visited state park in Minnesota. It has five waterfalls and a number of trails along with an interpretive center and gift shop. It is also handicapped accessible.
Split Rock Lighthouse is also something to put on the top of your list. I believe the admission charge is around $6 but well worth the money. The lighthouse sits atop a 130 foot cliff. You can see exhibits, watch a film about the history and building of the lighthouse, and take a tour. Go to the top of the lighthouse and see how it works! Then take the trail down to the shore (many steps) and take pictures.
There are many waterfalls that cross underneath Hwy. 61, with wayside parking. Stop the car and take a look! One of the neatest that crosses under the road is in Temperance River State Park, with potholes, cauldrons, cascades, and sheer rocky cliffs. Also check out the Cross River from both sides of the bridge on the Hwy. You can park and walk down the steps to get a closer look.
Judge C.R. Magney State Park has the most bizarre waterfall anyone has ever seen, called Devil's Kettle. For those of us not on a regular exercise program it is a somewhat difficult hike to get to the falls because of the many steps to go down and back up. But otherwise it's a nice walk through the woods high above the river. It is definitely worth the effort in the end if you don't have a heart attack on the stairs. Anyway, half the river disappears into the ground, never to be seen again, and no one, not even geologists, can explain it. So don't fall into the river because you'll disappear forever if you wind up in the kettle! Must see to understand what I mean. As we were leaving the park we picked up a flier explaining the different theories regarding where the water goes in Devil's Kettle, which was interesting.
Tettagouche State Park also has a somewhat long trail compared to the others (maybe two miles round trip) to see the falls. The trail to see the lower falls has quite a few steps. The falls are beautiful, of course, but no more beautiful than many of the other falls we saw. So unless you're up for a walk in the woods and have the time, put these falls last on your list.
In some of the parks the trails would be long and difficult for older people or very young children and potentially dangerous, so pick and choose carefully where to go. Gooseberry Falls State Park and the parks where the Falls are close to the road or parking lot are the best bet. Grand Portage State Park has a somewhat long walk to get to the high falls, but it is handicapped accessible and easy.