Destinations 2022

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2 0 2 2- 20 23 M I N NESOTA SNOW MOBIL ING

Discover Winter on a Snowmobile Trail

ADVENTURE AWAITS YOU OVER 22,000 MILES OF TRAILS


Trails wind through forests and glide over lake surfaces throughout Voyageurs National Park. The gateway communities of Crane Lake, Orr, Ash River, Kabetogama, International Falls, Ranier and Rainy Lake provide bases for your excursions into the National Park. You will find near pristine wilderness cloaked in the stillness of winter. Voyageurs was established because of the spectacular scenery, rich natural resources and vibrant history of this important piece of the north American waterways. You will not be disappointed. Each gateway community will have options for food, fuel and lodging. The trails will be clearly marked and well-groomed with staked trails to mark the lake surface portions. Any of the communities would be glad to send you a map. They appear in the advertising adjacent.

2 Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations


Spectacular Sledding All lodging is accessible by snowmobile • Full Service Community

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4 Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations


MINNESOTA SNOWMOBILING

Minnesota Snowmobiling DESTINATIONS is published annually by Midwest Sports Publishing Network 6595 Edenvale Blvd Ste 180 Eden Prairie MN 55346 (952) 473-7870 • (800) 989-6776 Volume 2021-2022 Winter Season MSPN Staff Joel Mellenthin President Pat Bourgeois, Kale Wainer Editors Corey Friesen Art Director Paula Jones Copy Editor Joel Mellenthin Diane Voight Dwain Stadie Sales Associates C.J. Ramstad Photo Archives All contents are copyright ©2021 by MSPN Reproduction of any part or whole of this publication in any form or by any mechanical or electronic means, including information and data retrieval systems, is prohibited except by written consent of the Publisher. All advertising materials are published subject to Publisher’s approval but the Publisher makes no claim for the accuracy or suitability of products or services advertised herein. Articles, photographs and manuscripts are encouraged, but the Publisher suggests a query be sent prior to sending materials. Unsolicited articles and photographs are accepted and should be addressed to: Minnesota Snowmobiling DESTINATIONS

6595 Edenvale Blvd Ste 180 Eden Prairie MN 55346

All materials will be handled with reasonable care; however, the Publisher assumes no responsibility for return or safety of artwork, photographs, or manuscripts. Materials not accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope cannot be returned.

Advertising copy: Send all advertising materials to: Ad Department Minnesota Snowmobiling DESTINATIONS 6595 Edenvale Blvd Ste 180 Eden Prairie MN 55346 Printed in U.S.A.

exploreminnesota.com 888-VISITMN (847-4866)

2022-2023 Minnesota Destinations 6 Ride Minnesota: Your Guide

Veteran rider, or new to the sport, the information found here is your perfect guide to enjoying 22,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails in Minnesota.

8 Northeast: Voyageurs National Park

A trip here will have you feeling as if you were in another country - a spectacle of lakes, waterways and rock outcroppings erupting from the border waters.

9 Northeast: The Iron Range

A great hub to explore - from Grand Rapids to Ely, snowmobile-friendly communities will welcome you with old world charm.

11 Northeast: North Shore

The CJ Ramstad North Shore Trail is where snowmobiling is defined - use it to explore the Arrowhead.

13 Northwest Minnesota

This area bread the intrepid visionaries who invented the first snowmobiles in the towns of Roseau and Thief River Falls. Keep your eyes open, you may get a glimpse at a future product.

14 North-Central Minnesota

Ride in the land of tall, tall trees where pines scrape the sky and trails interconnect state forests.

17 Central-East Minnesota

The best rides always start and end here. With varied terrain, a group of incredibly passionate clubs and some of the best kept trails in the state and businesses who Northwest welcome sledders with open arms. Pg 13

19 Central-West Minnesota

This area is an offering of a wide variety of snowmobile riding environments: rolling hills, heavy woods, lakes and prairies.

Voyageurs Pg 8

North Central Pg 14

North Shore Pg 11

Iron Range Pg 9

20 South-Minnesota

It’s all about the drifts in Southern Minnesota, whether it’s the unglaciated driftless region or the monster drifts on prairie trails.

West Pg 19

Central Pg 17

22 Metro

One doesn’t have to go too far out of the glow of city lights to have a true snowmobile experience.

Metro Pg 22 South Pg 20

AREA LOCATOR Winter 2022-23 5


RIDE MINNESOTA GUIDE

MINNESOTA MAKES IT EASY TO FIND A TRAIL

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eteran rider, or new to the sport, the information found in this issue of Destinations is your perfect guide to enjoying the 22,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails in Minnesota.

Both paper maps and electronic apps are great sources to show trail routes and places to park. Snowmobilers should use both when riding, as they complement each other. Electronics can die quickly in cold temperatures. To get up-to-date paper trail maps, contact local chambers and tourism offices, service stations or local hospitality merchants. Smartphone mapping apps are available for snowmobile trails, including the Polaris app, Avenza, and an electronic map from the Minnesota DNR. 6 Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations

STAY ON TRAIL

Trails are considered the safest way to snowmobile, as local snowmobile clubs sign, groom and maintain the majority of them. The majority of Minnesota trails are on private property, and property owners give snowmobile clubs special permission to build and maintain a trail on their land. Respect this generosity by staying on the marked trail; don’t cut corners or trespass. Snowmobiles may operate in the roadway ditches of state and county roads, at the base of the ditch or along the outside slope of the rightof-way. Be especially alert for traffic, driveways and other hazards found in ditches, such as drainage culverts.

TRAIL ETIQUETTE

Treat the trails as you would the road. Stay to the right side of the trail; obey the signs and speed limits (max: 50 mph; slower on designated lakes); do not ride faster than you can handle; give proper distance between the sleds; do not stop in blind locations nor in the middle


of the trail; and give ample stopping distance. Ride alertly with the anticipation of unknown hazards or icy trail conditions. Never drink alcohol and drive a snowmobile — margins are tight when snowmobiling and impairment of any kind is a serious hazard to yourself and others. A DUI on a snowmobile will impact your driver’s license. Many snowmobilers use hand signals to indicate stopping, turns and to tell oncoming snowmobilers how many people to expect in their party. A raised hand is not just a friendly hello; it’s providing information. To learn about these and other snowmobile safety tips visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website and search for snowmobiling. WHAT TO KNOW FOR FIRST-TIME SNOWMOBILERS • Snowmobile Safety Course - All snowmobilers born after December 31, 1976, must have a safety training certificate. However, the course is informative and open to all snowmobilers. For more info: dnr.state. mn.us/safety/vehicle/snowmobile/ Saferiderssafetyawareness.org also offers an online snowmobile safety program. • Guided Rides - Resorts renting snowmobiles often provide guide services and rent other snowmobile gear, such as jackets, boots and helmets. This is a good way to become oriented to the snowmobile, its gear and trail system. • Call a Club - Members of snowmobile clubs are often willing to take new snowmobilers on a ride in their area. A good way to thank a club for this kind of help is to join it. Find a list of clubs, organized by county, at mnsnowmobiler.org.

Resources

For trail information, conditions and trip planning assistance: Explore Minnesota Tourism 888-VISITMN (847-4866) exploreminnesota.com Minnesota DNR 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 dnr.state.mn.us/snowmobiling Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA) To find clubs and trail information 763-577-0185 mnsnowmobiler.org How to Register a Snowmobile mndnr.gov/regulations/snowmobile/index.html

Winter 2022-23 7


northeast-voyageurs national park POINT YOUR SKIS TOWARD VOYAGEURS NATIONAL PARK EXPLOREMINNESOTA.COM/NORTHEAST-MINNESOTA

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hanks to its size and location, Minnesota is one of those states able to serve up a variety of terrain, vegetation and wildlife running the full gamut. And then there’s the Voyageurs area. A trip here will have you feeling as if you were in another country, especially when you point your skis toward Voyageurs National Park. It’s here where the Canadian shield dips down to meet the border of Minnesota and in doing so creates a spectacle of lakes, waterways and rock outcroppings erupting from the border waters to create a landscape nothing short of breathtaking. The terrain is vast, the trails remote and the riding experience is like no other. Whether you’re running the single sled width of the Chain of Lakes Trail, the twists and turns of the Arrowhead Trail or the frozen waterways of the Voyageur Trail, you’ll most likely be retracing the steps of early timber prospectors and fur traders as they discovered this incredible place. With the snow crisp and the lakes frozen tight, a night ride on a clear night might serve up a free light show courtesy of the aurora borealis. The sky within the Voyageurs National Park is a theater for the stars, the moon and the dancing norther lights. Few places in the lower 48 offer a view of all three as good as this. With no light pollution and crystal-clear air, all that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy. Voyageurs National Park is one of the few national parks in the country allowing snowmobile trails. Snowmobiling was such an institution in the area when the park was designated that ongoing snowmobile 8 Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations

usage is written directly into its charter, and it remains the best way to see the park when it’s wearing its winter coat. The park contains 26 small lakes and four main lakes, Kabetogama, Namekan, Sand Point and Rainy Lake, which covers about 360 square miles. Marked, groomed lake top trails allow snowmobilers easy access to the park, with some land bridges between lakes as portages. The trail markers are color-coded and reflective, making them visible even in blowing conditions. Pressure ridges are noted by two orange caution stakes. Riders need not stick to the trails, as the lake tops are open for snowmobile use — just pay attention to your location, ride at posted speeds (which are specific within the park) and give any wildlife a very large berth. No overland riding, though, unless on a designated trail. Also note areas of thin ice on the map and avoid those areas. A gem of the park is the 13-mile Chain of Lakes Trail. It’s a two-way trail as it runs along skinny finger lakes but turns into a one-way experience that can be challenging even for an experienced rider. The narrow, ungroomed trail harkens back to the early days of snowmobiling and the then new development of trails. Expect trees so close that you may wonder if you can thread the needle, and some steep ups-and-downs as you ride over the rocks. It starts on the northwest part of Lake Kabetogama and spits riders out on the southeast side.


northeast - iron range A GREAT HUB TO EXPLORE EXPLOREMINNESOTA.COM/NORTHEAST-MINNESOTA

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orthern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range makes a great hub to explore points east, west and north from sun-up to sundown. Well-groomed and signed, their trails get you away from traffic and out into the woods where you don’t have to worry about crossing roads or driveways. Naturally, all trails lead back to comfortable lodging, with bars and restaurants close at hand. The Iron Range is centrally located to more than 2,000 miles of Minnesota snowmobile trails, including the legendary Arrowhead state snowmobile trail and the Taconite state snowmobile trail. Cruise through the Superior National Forest as you cover amazing terrain with all the straightaways, twist-n-turns, and hills-n-valleys you could want. Dedicated groomers do the job right and keep the snowmobile trails in top shape. Just to make things easy, for every Iron Range town, (that’s Hibbing, Chisholm, Mountain Iron, Buhl, Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert, Biwabik, Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, Embarrass and Meadowlands), there’s a spur. Get in and out of town on well-groomed, easy-to-find trails. Make the most of trailside bars, restaurants and hotels and get the most fun out of your trip!

If you’re not a sledder, take a look at Giants Ridge Recreation Area, with a top-notch ski school, plus 35 alpine runs, two terrain parks, a tubing hill and play areas for the kids. Around the region, we’ve got hundreds of miles of nordic trails to try. Onsite resorts make it easy to get to the mountain, and if you’ve really got some skills, bring the trailer and hit the snowmobile trails from Giants Ridge Recreation Area. Go any direction for great terrain, scenery and winter fun. Get your winter trip info – including maps – today! Minnesota’s Iron Range stretches about 175 miles southwest to northeast from Crosby to Ely and is comprised of three individual “ranges,” or ore-rich areas: the Cuyuna in the south, the Mesabi in the middle and the Vermilion in the north. The Mesabi Iron Range includes the communities of Hibbing, Chisholm, Mountain Iron, Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert, Biwabik, Aurora and Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. The Arrowhead and the Taconite state trails form the backbone of the region’s trail system. The Taconite Trail stretches 165 miles from Grand Rapids to Ely. This wide, multi-use route is most popular with

RIDE ON Thousands of miles of trails. Great places to eat and stay. Everything you need for winter fun is waiting on Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. Visit IronRange.org to download or request trail maps to plan your trip.

VIRGINIA

MTN. IRON

HIBBING AURORA

BIWABIK

BIWABIK

EVELETH •

BUHL

CHISHOLM

EMBARRASS

BIWABIK •

EVELETH

GILBERT

HIBBING

HOYT LAKES

MOUNTAIN IRON

VIRGINIA

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northeast - iron range

snowmobilers and is shared by cross-country skiers, dogsledders, fattire bicyclists, and snowmobilers. The trail runs through remote bogs, scenic birch, aspen, and spruce forests, along frozen lakes, and across streams. On the south end, you’ll see classic Canadian Shield landscape, with hills encrusted by huge rocks. Eight trail waysides and picnic facilities provide ample opportunities for a lunch break or photo opportunity with dramatic wilderness viewpoints in the background. On the north end, the trail intersects with the David Dill — Arrowhead Trail, which runs 135 miles between International Falls and Tower, and

10 Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations

offers numerous trail shelters along the way. The 25- mile Aurora Trail runs between Biwabik and Hoyt Lakes and passes two mine pits and a former Civilian Conservation Corp camp. A northern offshoot runs to the deep snows of the Giants Ridge area, where increased elevations provide more challenging and rewarding terrain. If you prefer to ride the route less traveled, smaller grant-in-aid trails head into remote state forest territory or lead to welcoming range communities.


northeast - north shore

WHERE SNOWMOBILING IS DEFINED EXPLOREMINNESOTA.COM/NORTHEAST-MINNESOTA

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long this rugged stretch of shoreline reaching to the farthest ends of the state you’ll find 146-miles of quintessential Minnesota snowmobile experience. The C.J. Ramstad North Shore Trail defines snowmobiling in this state. Here, the snow comes early, stays late and is greeted by some of the most picturesque beauty found anywhere in the snowbelt.

The iconic North Shore Trail twists and weaves, following the northeasterly direction of the shoreline. The trail is as remote as it is beautiful, crossing few roads and interrupted more frequently by wildlife. While it’s certainly possible to ride the entire trail in one day, many choose to break it into sections and really feel the heartbeat of the Arrowhead region.

When winds blow off the always chilled waters of Superior, the lake-effect snow machine kicks into high gear, bringing substantial snowfall to the tree covered hills framing the northeastern border of Minnesota. Riding from the trail opening date of December 1, through the end of March is often the norm versus the exception.

Duluth to Silver Bay

There are 77 miles of North Shore Trail between Duluth and Silver Bay, but don’t let that limit you. There are plenty of legal areas to get off the main corridor and explore.

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northeast - north shore Literalists will want to park at the Martin Road lot on the northern edge of Duluth’s city limits to get the entire feel for the trail. Adventurists, however, can take advantage of other Duluth trails to reach this point, including the Duluth East club trail between the Lester River and Amity Creek that start close to the lakeshore and climb up to Skyline Parkway and beyond. Others could choose to start in Proctor, on the south side of Duluth, and use the Duluth West Trail through Hermantown to eventually link up to the North Shore Trail via the Reservoir Lakes Trail. The trails around Island Lake Reservoir are popular with local riders, and host some nice eating establishments and scenic bridges over the French and Cloquet rivers. Two Harbors is also a good place to start, with ample lodging, food and large parking areas. Save some miles on the tow vehicle, and put them on the sled instead. Two Harbors offers easy access to not only the North Shore Trail, but to the Pequaywan-Hoyt Lakes Trail, the Brimson Trail and the Yukon Trail. Each option makes a robust day loop with hearty lunch stops and warming shelters along the way. Silver Bay offers about 80 miles of twisty, scenic, well-maintained trails and they are a point of pride for the small community.

Silver Bay to Lutsen

Heading north, Silver Bay trails merge into the town of Finland. This friendly town is also another favorite drop in point for riders looking to squeeze in an early or late season ride. Located “up the hill” and further north, this “secret” snow stash features a small park and ride lot located on the edge of town near the Finland community center. The North Shore Trail in this section is particularly stunning as it works its way up the ridgeline. Several spur trails drop down to the shoreside communities, but not all of them have fuel or amenities. Plan accordingly. As in other sections of this trail, don’t be afraid to hop off and explore. The 85-mile Tomahawk Trail, which heads toward Ely, has a link to the

12 Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations

North Shore trail. There’s also a nice loop winding past inland lakes and Pat Bayle State Forest, which can be accessed near the iconic snowmobiler pitstop, the Trestle Inn.

Lutsen to Grand Marais…and beyond

Grand Marais may seem like the end of the trail, but it’s really just the beginning. Sure, a dip into town is nice for its food, lodging and atmosphere, but it’s not where the snowmobiling is at: continue the adventure up the Gunflint trails and on the forest road trails between the Gunflint and Grand Portage. While not within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the Gunflint and Gunflint Expressway trails give that BWCA vibe with the rocks, pine and lakes that make this area so special. These two trails offer more than 130 miles of Gunflint riding opportunity, and that’s just going one way. The forest road trails between Gunflint and Grand Portage are probably the most remote, most back-country trails in the state. Extra fuel is not a bad idea, as well as a good map, electronics and a riding partner. It’s easy to get turned around here so ride with all of your smarts.


northWEST A REGION RICH WITH SNOWMOBILING HISTORY EXPLOREMINNESOTA.COM/NORTHWEST-MINNESOTA

Locals enjoy family afternoons at Bemis Hill, where there’s a nice view of the surrounding countryside and children can sled. Hayes Lake State Park, on the northwestern boundary of Beltrami Island, also has a tight network of trails. The Northwest is what gave birth to Minnesota snowmobiling, as brothers Edgar and Allen Hetteen, and their friend, David Johnson, started to tinker at their hoist and

Being this far north, the weather systems that impact the area often go unnoticed in other parts of the state. The cold and snow come early and stay late. In fact, when other parts of the state are still waiting for rideable white, the northwest is busy grooming and riding this vast network of high-speed trails. If you want a place where you can rack on the miles with little to no traffic

and you’re always greeted with a smile, the northwest is your place.

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From high-speed groomed ditches and expansive lake routes to some of the most remote and wooded trails in the state, you’ll find it all. You’ll also find plenty of welcoming businesses, hotels and resorts. If you want to mix in some true Minnesota style

More than ditches and lakes, the trails through Beltrami Island State Forest — the second-largest state forest in Minnesota, offer a completely different experience. The official map shows just a few trails in Beltrami Island, but many of the forest roads are open for motorized recreation to total 238 miles within its boundaries.

derrick shop in Roseau. Out of it came two things: a prototype snowmobile called the SnoTraveler and a company called Polaris. It was named after the north star as it was, at that time, the northern-most company in the U.S. Later, Edgar Hetteen also co-founded Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls. Both factories offer guided tours, and you can ride your sled right to the front doors. Call ahead to confirm a tour schedule and times.

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Snowmobiling is more than just a passion in these parts, it is a way of life. People ride for pleasure, for commuting, for work, in fact many kids ride their snowmobiles to school. So, it should come as no surprise the trails in the region are some of the best anywhere.

fishing while you are “up north," the frozen expanses of Lake of the Woods and Upper Red Lake offers some of the best ice fishing anywhere, and you’ll find scores of resorts and guides to help you catch your limit.

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rom the open prairies to the west, dense pine forests and expansive waters of Lake of the Woods to the north and the vast unknown of one of the largest bog swamps in the United States to the east, the northwest region is one of the most diverse in the state. It’s also the richest in terms of snowmobiling history. It was here that snowmobiling was born, and the communities of Thief River Falls and Roseau remain the active manufacturing hometowns to Arctic Cat and Polaris respectively.

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TAKE IT IN… • Enclosed and heated shelters. Snowmobilers are tough, but even the hardiest need to warm up every now and then. There are seven enclosed trail shelters in the Baudette area for any snowmobiler to use. • Take a factory tour. Both Arctic Cat and Polaris offer free factory tours. Call ahead to confirm times and availability. While you’re in Roseau make it a point to stop by the Polaris Experience Center, a 5,600-square-foot museum that chronicles the history of snowmobiling from the 1950s to today. Trails in this area are often the testing grounds for future snowmobiles and technology. If you see a machine that doesn’t quite look or sound like what you’re used to, it could be a prototype.

north-CENTRAL TALL TALL TREES AND THE HEARTLAND OF SNOWMOBILING EXPLOREMINNESOTA.COM/NORTHWEST-MINNESOTA

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ith multiple state forests and wooded tribal lands, the North central area of Minnesota features some of the tallest trees in the state. Minnesota’s largest red pine — 120 feet — was in Itasca State Park until winds took part of it down in 2008, but that’s just an indication of the size of the area’s trees. It is Paul Bunyan country, after all, and home to snowmobiling’s largest personality, Levi LaVallee, a Longville native. Itasca State Park is just one of this area’s must-experience locations. Snowmobilers can access the Mississippi headwaters parking lot by trail, and then it’s a short walk to that iconic sign that signals the start of the mighty Mississippi. Snowmobile trails wrap 31 miles around the park’s perimeter, with parking available at the visitor center, which is open year-round. Snowmobile trails cross other winter trails at various places in the park, so watch for other winter enthusiasts. There are also lodging options within the park.

14 Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations

Numerous trails radiate out from the park, leading into the White Earth, Paul Bunyan, Two Inlets, Welsh Lake, Bowstring, and Mississippi Headwaters state forests. Bemidji, Park Rapids and Walker are the towns of note in this area, but don’t count out the smaller locales. Most have some sort of restaurant


with a good burger — and they are great places to shoot the bull with other snowmobilers. You’ll know the popular spots based on the number of sleds parked outside. The snowmobile club in Bemidji has worked hard to widen and sign the trails that head northwest of town toward Leonard and Clearbrook, but they are still lesstraveled trails. If trails going other directions seem busy, try heading this way. Bemidji is a hub for major snowmobile trails. One end of the 115-mile Paul Bunyan Trail is in Bemidji (with the other end in Brainerd) and the Blue Ox follows Highway 71 up to International Falls, about 110 miles. If either of these trails start to feel a little flat and a little straight, there are add-on loops that will give a bit of diversity, such as the spur look between Turtle River and Tenstrike or a nice route between Walker and Hackensack through Foot Hills State Forest.

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On Beautiful Big Turtle Lake Another place for a bit of diversion off the rail trails happens in Walker, which provides an intersection of the Heartland and Paul Bunyan state trails. The four-mile segment of trail north of Walker, which serves as a connector between the two Heartland sections, is fun with rolling terrain. Meanwhile, the Paul Bunyan Trail diverts from the grade south of Walker for a rollicking nine miles of hills and curves before it joins the Heartland Trail through town. et uns AS iss cluded M r n e Nev nsetsi #su

Snowmobile Trail Runs Through The Resort! Cozy Cabins Call Us for Special Group Rates!

Walker is a gateway to Leech Lake and visitors who are not snowmobiling on the trails are likely snowmobiling to their ice house or somewhere else on the lake to drop a line. Someone who plans well can do both activities.

Bemidji, MN

A paved trail for summer use, the Heartland becomes a snowmobile artery in the winter with connections to many more miles of groomed trail in Hubbard County and beyond. There is a nice collection of forest road trails north of Nevis and Akeley in the Paul Bunyan State Forest, as well as another maze of trails north of Park Rapids.

Over 400 miles of groomed trails!

218-243-2131 kohlsresort.com

16 Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations

Walker is a half-way point between Park Rapids and Cass Lake on the Heartland State Trail. This 49-mile trail is among the first rail-to-trail conversions in the country. The trail offers water views — lakes, rivers, streams — and passes through forests of both hard and soft woods, including pine and spruce. Keep an eye out for large white pine.


CENTRAL-EAST

A HOMEBASE TO SNOWMOBILING EXPLOREMINNESOTA.COM/CENTRAL-MINNESOTA

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hen you choose to ride in a state with more miles of groomed snowmobile trail than any other, chances are you’ll find a new adventure every time you squeeze the throttle. What’s more, when you make the East Central region your home base, you’ll find yourself at the center of it all. With varied terrain, a group of incredibly passionate clubs, some of the best kept trails in the state and businesses who welcome sledders with open arms, the best rides always start and end here. There’s an exclusive, locals-only feel to the snowmobile trails in the mid-state area between Mille Lacs and the Wisconsin border. The area, often overlooked by people heading even farther north, offers pleasant surprises for those who want to stop and explore.

lake in the state, is a destination on its own for a snowmobile trip, or for those who like to both snowmobile and ice fish. While there are no snowmobile trails on the lake (most snowmobiles on the lake are used to access fishing spots), a nice day-ride is a circumnavigation, which is about 100 miles. A lap around the lake will include some trails close to the frozen water’s east side, but other trails

divert into other terrain. But the real gem — and local favorite — are the trails through Mille Lacs Kathio State Park. The trails flow through wooded hills, skirt Shakopee Lake and follow the first few miles of the Rum River as it begins its windy path to the Mississippi. Heading east toward Hinckley on the 114-mile-long Soo Line South Trail, divert onto a maze of logging trails called Red Top Trails

Terrain is fairly flat between Mille Lacs and Hinckley, but then something changes as riders near the St. Croix: hills become more dramatic, woods become a bit denser and farm fields give way to some surprisingly remote riding. The Nemadji State Forest area is a window into a different world. Be prepared with fuel and snacks: this is surprisingly remote territory.

Mille Lacs, the second-largest Winter 2022-23 17


TAKE IT IN… • The Annual SNOWfest film and vintage snowmobile event happens every December in Wahkon. Screen the newest snowmobile action films, watch some classic snowmobile flicks and walk through a vintage snowmobile show. • Put Hay Days on your list of must-experience events. Snowmobilers gather outside of North Branch the second weekend of each September for Hay Days – the world’s largest powersports festival.

18 Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations


CENTRAL-WEST A WIDE VARIETY OF RIDING ENVIRONMENTS EXPLOREMINNESOTA.COM/CENTRAL-MINNESOTA

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iew Snowmobiles Racing. Western Minnesota could be considered the heart of Minnesota’s competitive national snowmobile racing scene. Whether its grassroots racing for the young up-and-comers, the seven National snocross events smack dab in the heart of the Midwest snowbelt, or another nine National cross-country stops in Minnesota, it’s safe to say you’ll be able to catch the highflying action in this region. Western Minnesota offers a wide variety of snowmobile riding environments: rolling hills, heavy woods, lakes and prairies. While there are many snowmobile friendly communities, these are a few of the many spots to covet. Maplewood State Park is one such treasure. The 9,000-acre park, near Pelican Rapids, is made up of a series of high hills, which sit in stark contrast to the surrounding farmlands. The highest point is at about 1,600 feet; a 300-foot change from the farms below. The land under the park was created in the last ice age and it’s on the edge of the Red River Valley and within the Alexandria Moraine.

There are 20 miles of snowmobile trails in the park, including a warming house. Trails connect to a greater system, including routes to Pelican Rapids, Fergus Falls and Detroit Lakes. Inspiration Peak, near Urbank, is another precious stone. Snowmobile to the top and see what inspired author F. Scott

Fitzgerald to describe more than 50 lakes below as “sequins fallen on an old paisley shawl.” The peak is one of the highest points in the state, and certainly the highest point in Otter Tail County at an elevation of 1,750 feet, about 400 feet above the surrounding land. The snowmobile hubs on the northern end are Alexandria and

Detroit Lakes, both towns with ample accommodations and amenities. The trail between the two towns can get busy, but there’s a section of Ottertail County that is less-traveled: the western part of the county, including the towns of Pelican Rapids, Elizabeth and Rothsay. In all, the county has about 500 miles of trail.

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SOUTHERN A RAPID CHANGING LANDSCAPE @VisitFairmontMN

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W

hen the snow storms veer below the capital city of St. Paul, one of the most magical riding destinations in the state comes calling, and this winter you should answer it.

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With the meandering water of the Mississippi creating the eastern border, the southwestern region of Minnesota is one of the few areas in the state where the scraping forces of ancient glaciers never reached. What you’ll find are bluffs, rapidly rolling hills and hidden streams interspersed amongst the rich farmland.

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20 Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations

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This continuous and rapidly changing landscape is mirrored by the snowmobile trails that slice high and low. And when these trails are blessed with a fresh blanket of snow, a magical carpet ride awaits in one of the most beautiful areas found in the entire upper Midwest. The best way to enjoy t hese southern trails is to keep an eye on the forecast, keep your sleds loaded in the trailer, and remain very flexible to travel. Storm chasers (riders who follow fresh fallen snow in order to make

first tracks) often have Southern Minnesota atop their list, and for good reason. Minnesota’s southern snowmobile trails range from wide stretches of open prairie on the South Dakota border to rolling river valley ridges and bluffs on the Wisconsin border. Corridor trails, combined with routes maintained by local clubs, make it possible to ride across the state from border to border. It’s also possible to circle the Rochester metro area on a continuous loop of trails that provide 130-140 miles of changing scenery. That’s a good day ride in easy reach of amenities.

In the Rochester area, the Douglas State Trail is a 12.5-mile railroad grade route between Rochester and Pine Island that passes through pastures, woods, and open fields. Look for deer and partridge along the way. On the west side of the state, another rails-to-trails ride is the Casey Jones Trail, one of Minnesota’s first authorized state trails named for the legendary railroad engineer. The Blazing Star State Trail runs six miles from Albert Lea Lake in Albert Lea to Myre-Big Island State Park and eventually will link Albert Lea and Austin via Big Island State Park and Hayward.


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Timberlake Lodge Hotel & Restaurant Grand Rapids MN January 25-29, 2023

September 30, 2022 (100 rider limit)

Visit www.northland300.org or call Kathy (612) 840-9660

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2023 MIDWEST RIDE-IN JANUARY 27-29, 2023 ERX Motor Park, Elk River, MN

World’s Largest Antique, Vintage and Classic Snowmobile Event

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The 2023 theme is TWO-STROKE TRIPLE+ CYLINDERS Bring out your Hirth Honkers, JLOs, Kohlers, Kawasakis, Chaparrals, Kiekhaefers, Aeromarines,Bolens, Brootens, Rotax, Fujis, sexy Sachs starbursts and your favorite 90's era lake racers. The Midwest Ride-In will celebrate all those who believe

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METRO RIDING THE BURBS EXPLOREMINNESOTA.COM/MINNEAPOLIS-ST-PAUL-AREA

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hile the skyline of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul doesn’t necessarily paint an idyllic winter landscape for snowmobiling, on the fringes resides a bustling community of riders. In fact, this metro region is home to the largest density of snowmobilers anywhere in the world. Proof of this happens each winter as the snow piles up, the trails on the suburban edge of the major metropolitan area come alive with riders looking to escape the big city lights in search of adventure. While most trails that lead outward from the suburban edge are maintained by area clubs, the trails managed by the Three Rivers Parks system serve up easy to find trail heads and scenic riding just minutes from the urban sprawl. Riding opportunities exists in nine of the regional parks and each make for a perfect place to take the family or first-time riders for an afternoon ride. Anoka is best known as the Halloween Capital of the World, but snowmobilers know that fall is just the gateway to winter. After a nice base of snow covers the city, it could also be called the capital of the metro area’s snowmobiling scene. On the northwestern edge of the Twin Cities, Anoka gives city riders easy access to trails close to home as well as destinations north. “The ability to connect to greater Minnesota from the metro area is quite remarkable,” said Peter Turok, President of the Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce. “Riders can Historic Downtown access the entire network Historic Anoka is OPEN for of trails that cover the state Downtown beginning in Anoka. When snowmobilers Anoka is OPENvia conditions are favorable, they have the ability to ride thesnowmobilers upper Rum for the Rum River all the way to downtown Anoka to the River! via the upper various restaurants and GreatRiver! Shops and businesses.” Rum

Restaurants Great ShopsAwait! The Minnesota River and carves out some great country on the Restaurants www.anokaarea snowmobile southwestern side of the metro area, with dramatic Await! chamber.com 763-421-7130

anokaareachamber.com 763-421-7130 22 Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations

cliffs, hardwood forests, and scenic water views. Take the Minnesota River Valley Trail from Shakopee to Belle Plaine to see the city turn to farm fields and forests all along the scenic riverbed.

In the east metro, Washington County trails give riders close to St. Paul the chance to ride after work or embark on a longer snowmobiling trip beginning in the city and heading outstate on a series of connected trails. A great example of this is the north-south Star Trail from south of Cottage Grove to north of Forest Lake, which means metro riders can take it to feeder trails that ultimately go anywhere in the state. That’s the beauty of riding in the cities — on one end of the trail you can find sporting events, the arts, music, and great food. On the other end is the great Minnesota wilderness. Ride just as much as you want.

RIDING AND RACING

Follow the mighty Mississippi River to the north and you’ll eventually find the river city of Elk River, home to ERX Motor Park, one of the biggest and best motorsports and events venues in the Midwest. This massive venue that totals over 400-acres is home to the Midwest Ride In – the world’s biggest and best antique, vintage and classic snowmobile event. Held the last weekend in January, the Ride In serves up vintage sled displays, trail riding, racing, swap meet, a banquet and socializing around giant outdoor bonfires. Competitive snowmobiling is alive and well in the metro region as well. The aforementioned ERX Motor Park is also home to countless snowmobile races throughout the winter, from grassroots family focused fun under the lights to regional competition and the national snocross tour. The south metro also gets a big dose of racing when the International Series of Champions (ISOC) national snocross tour visits Canterbury Park in Shakopee.


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Wherever the trail leads, there’s an AmericInn nearby waiting to offer you, friendly service, a comfortable and quiet night’s sleep. And always a place to park your sled.

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Comfortable, quieter rooms I Free hot, home-style breakfast Hotel-wide, high-speed Internet I Indoor pool and whirlpool

Winter 2022-23 23