Winter means something different to everyone. Up in Cook County, Minnesota, it means freedom. Freedom to explore. Freedom to push your limits. Freedom to adventure to your heart’s content, and then relax and recuperate for as long as necessary. No judgment! Up here, winter slows things down, so you can focus on whatever you need in the here and now.
So… what winter adventures do you want to tick off your bucket list on your next stay in Cook County? Here are just a few for inspiration.
Hit the 400 Miles of Snowmobile Trails
There’s something incredibly thrilling about zooming across frozen landscapes on a snowmobile. It’s about discovering the nooks and crannies of Cook County that you just can’t get to during any other time of year. And is there anything better than taking off your helmet and walking into a toasty warm restaurant and enjoying a delicious, freshly-cooked meal? Maybe just hitting the trail again with a refreshed body and a full belly!
Find a new snowmobile trail or explore your all-time favorites over and over again.
Explore over 400km of Cross-Country Ski Trails
Cook County is a cross-country skier’s paradise. We’re the proud home of the largest cross-country skiing area in the state of Minnesota, and our trails truly offer something for everyone. Expert skiers can always find a new challenge, and beginners can access beautifully-groomed trails that are perfect for learning and perfecting your form. This full-body workout will get your heart pumping and rejuvenate your spirit for the long winter season to come. Just don’t forget to wrap up your day with Après ski, your post-ski happy hour.
Discover 5 great reasons to try cross country skiing this winter.
Crush it at Lutsen Mountains
Whether you’re a snowboarder or an alpine skier (or one of the few who enjoys dabbling in both!), add a few days at the legendary Lutsen Mountains to your winter adventure bucket list. With four mountains, 95 runs and over 1,000 skiable acres to explore, Lutsen Mountains is jam-packed with everything you’d expect from a modern ski resort. Whether you’re looking for a family ski holiday, a romantic retreat or a weekend ski or snowboard getaway with friends, you’ll discover a true mountain vacation at Lutsen Mountains.
Plan a trip to Lutsen Mountains this winter.
Ride a Fat Tire Bike
Years ago, only die-hard bike enthusiasts ventured out on two wheels during winter. Today, is a different story. Fat tire bikes have opened the gates to year-round riding for all – and your fat tire biking experience is different here in Cook County. Heavily wooded trails wind through the quiet forest, where the only other being you might come across is tracks from a wild creature.
View winter biking trail conditions and plan your adventure today.
Try Out Some Snowshoes
Everybody who’s anybody is getting out on the trails with a pair of snowshoes. It’s just too fun to pass up! Whether you’re sporting a brand-new pair of aluminum snowshoes from your favorite outdoor retailer or handwoven wooden works of art, they’re sure to take you to places you’ve never been before. Almost nowhere is off-limits with snowshoes. Re-explore your favorite summer hiking trails in the heart of winter and discover a new perspective on what makes Cook County so special.
Download trail maps for our favorite snowshoe adventures.
Experience the Dark Sky
Our region is home to one of the darkest skies in the nation. Every year, explorers, adventurers, artists and photographers from around the world travel to Cook County to experience the bright starry nights and, hopefully, northern lights. In true Cook County fashion, we celebrate the year’s longest nights with the annual Dark Sky Festival. While you’re here, be sure to unleash your inner photographer, so you can make your memories last a lifetime.
Download our Dark Skies Photography Guide for tips on capturing our beautiful night skies.
Discover the Beauty of a Frozen Waterfall
We often refer to spring as ‘waterfall season,’ but winter transforms our beloved waterfalls into stunning works of frozen art. It’s as if time hit the pause button on an active waterfall, capturing the power, beauty and movement of the water as it cascaded over a rocky cliff. As always, the journey is just as important as the destination. You’ll enjoy every moment hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing the scenic trails to our favorite waterfalls.
Download our Waterfall Map to find our favorite spots.
Current Trail Conditions
When winter rolls around, Cook County locals can’t stay off the trails. That’s great news for visitors because it means we always have current winter trail conditions on all your favorite trails throughout the winter season. Whether you’re snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, fat tire biking or hitting the slopes at Lutsen, having current trail condition information available can help you plan and prepare for whatever the season has in store.
Check winter trail conditions before you start your winter adventure.
While many of our trails are marked and have maps posted at trailheads, there’s a certain level of assurance in knowing where you are at any moment in time. Both the Alltrails and Avenza apps have GPS based maps that can be used offline – but remember that cell phone batteries don’t always perform well in cold weather. Pack an extra battery if you’re planning to use your phone for guidance on the trail. When in doubt, keep a printed map handy!
Easy Access to All Cook County Trail Maps
Everything you need for your winter adventure, all in one convenient location. We’ve gathered up our favorite trail maps for just about any activity and made them easier to access than ever before. Visit our Trails & Maps Library – and be sure to bookmark this page so you can find it whenever you need it.