Minnesota’s North Shore has been bombarded with snow this winter, fashioning a bright, fluffy landscape that’s ideal for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and, of course, snowshoeing. Over the past decade or so, North Shore snowshoeing has skyrocketed in popularity as Midwesterners continue to discover the serene, picturesque allure of this mountainous, lakeside land. And the perfect place to start and finish each day of exploration and adventure is right here at Superior Shores Resort in Two Harbors, MN. We’re a short drive from the rolling hills of Duluth, MN, two of the most-recognized state parks in North America, and the jagged mountains to the north.
Idyllic North Shore Snowshoeing: Top 3 Spots
Most of us unequivocally love the outdoors, whether that’s chasing waterfalls, sledding through the woods, or photographing vibrant fall foliage. North Shore snowshoeing is in a category all by itself because it requires a good deal of planning, endurance, and thirst for exploration. Trudging through thick, fresh powder up the base of a mountain is no easy feat. However, there’s nothing more rewarding than reaching a peak with several miles of snowshoeing in the rearview. To ensure that your midwinter getaway is nothing short of flawless, we’ve compiled three quintessential Minnesota snowshoe trails, all of which are a short drive from the resort.
1. Carlton Peak
Many online publications list the Carlton Peak hike in the ballpark of 3.5 miles, out-and-back. But, from personal experience, it’s closer to 4.5 miles, especially in the heart of winter. Park your vehicle near the Britton Peak Trailhead, strap into your snowshoes, and start stomping your way into the woods. The elevation gain is gradual as you’ll meander past Nordic ski paths, towering cedars, and soaring birds of prey. As you can imagine, the views from atop the peak will bring you to your knees.
2. Sugarbush Onion River Trailhead
Sugarbush Onion River Trailhead lies approximately 5.5 miles from the Carlton Peak parking lot along the Superior Hiking Trail, home to some of the prettiest snowshoeing in Minnesota. There’s very little information online about this infrequently-used trail. Most travelers who park in the sizable lot off Onion River Road are there to hike up jaw-dropping Oberg Mountain or Nordic ski into the north woods. However, the slightly-hidden Sugarbush trail is a diamond in the rough as it cuts through dense forestry past a frozen river, thriving conk mushrooms (as seen on the right), and curious deer. The Leveaux Mountain loop is often smothered in powder, so we recommend exploring the sizable peak with nothing but a sense of direction and curiosity.
3. Two Island River
If you’ve ever blazed through the mostly abandoned township of Taconite Harbor, you likely have noticed the train tracks that tower above Highway 61. These tracks haven’t been utilized in decades. Thus, they’re now overgrown with brush (and pretty flora during the summer months). Today, shrewd travelers know to pull over on the highway and strut up the edge of Two Island River, where a secret waterfall lies. To the right of the waterfall is the abandoned tracks, which rest inside a breathtaking, open-air rock tunnel. Please be careful when entering and exiting your vehicle as there’s very little space to park when there’s a substantial amount of snow on the side of the road.
Rustic yet Modern Lodging in Two Harbors, MN
Gooseberry Falls State Park, Hartley Nature Center, and Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory all narrowly missed the cut. If you still have time on the docket for a couple more hours of North Shore snowshoeing, please seek them out. If you’re searching for a snowshoe rental “near me,” we recommend Sawtooth Outfitters in Tofte, MN. After reading a sample two-day North Shore itinerary, please give us a call at 800-242-1988. We’re widely respected as one of the premier North Shore resorts thanks to our on-site dining, unrivaled Lake Superior views (as seen on the right), private Jacuzzi tubs, and first-rate hospitality.