XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

Cross-country Skiing


Long ago, someone in Asia had the idea that strapping large flat objects onto your feet would help you travel in snow.  The idea moved to the west and the objects became longer and skinnier and developed into skis.  The idea also moved to the east, and the objects got shorter and wider and became snowshoes.  Both are still excellent ways to travel in the winter, and a good way to get exercise.

To help pay for trail maintenance, skiers over 16 in Minnesota on State or Grant-In-Aid funded trails must have a Great Minnesota Ski Pass.  Many trails in the the Superior National Forest require the Pass, though some forest and privately maintained trails do not.  For information on the Great Minnesota Ski Pass, visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.

Many winter use trails on the Superior National Forest are maintained by cooperating organizations.  Some of these organizations have websites with up to the minute trail condition information, maps, and other useful information.  Links to these sites are listed on the sidebar at the right.

While there are some designated snowshoe routes in the Forest, snowshoes are really designed for off trail use.  If you are going off trail, make sure to have map and compass with you and know how to use them.  A GPS can be useful as well, but be aware that battery operated equipment can malfunction at cold temperatures.  The Sugarbush Trail system is one that does have a designated snowshoe trail for those wishing to stay on a trail.  Note that snowshoe tracks can ruin groomed cross country ski trails, so please respect skiers by avoiding groomed ski trails.

Off trail travel might be best with snowshoes, but nothing beats skis for fast travel on a trail.  Trails in the Forest vary from single groomed paths to wide trails with both classic and skate ski lanes.  If you are a skater, please try to avoid the groomed tracks for classic skiing.

Most of the Superior National Forest, including roads not maintained in the winter, is open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.  Some areas, such as snowmobile trails and active timber harvests, are not for use by snowshoers and skiers, but you are welcome to explore ungroomed hiking trails, frozen lakes and streams, and unmaintained roads, as well as the general forest.  When going off trail with either snowshoes or skis, remember that you will be sharing unplowed roads and some areas with snowmobiles.  Be alert for traffic.  Otherwise, exercise caution on frozen water, especially streams or rivers that may not freeze solidly.  Be sure to bring navigational equipment, extra food and gear, and a headlamp in case the sun goes down faster than you think.

Maps of Skiing Areas and further information

Click on one of the areas listed as "Winter Recreation Trails" below for general maps and a list of individual ski trails and systems.  Links to individual trails will have specific maps and further links to trail conditions.

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing Areas

  • Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
  • North Arm Trails
  • South Farm Lake Ski Trails
  • Gunflint Ranger District (Grand Marais MN)
  • Gunflint Winter Recreation Trails
  • Bally Creek Ski Trails
  • Banadad Ski Trail
  • Cascade River Ski Trails (Norpine Trail System)
  • Central Gunflint Ski Trails
  • Deer Yard Ski Trails (Norpine Trail System)
  • George Washington Pines Winter Recreation Trail
  • Massie - Hall Ski Trails (Norpine Trail System)
  • Pincushion Mountain Ski Trails
  • Upper Gunflint Ski Trails
  • Kadunce River Hunter Walking Trails
  • Kawishiwi Ranger District (Ely MN)
  • Kawishiwi Winter Recreation Trails
  • Angleworm - Hegman Lakes Ski Route
  • Birch Lake Pine Plantation Ski Trails
  • Hidden Valley & Extension Cross Country Ski Trails
  • North Junction Ski Trails
  • Trezona Ski Trail
  • LaCroix Ranger District (Cook MN)
  • LaCroix Winter Recreation Trails
  • Laurentian Ranger District (Aurora MN)
  • Big Aspen Trail
  • Bird Lake Trail
  • Laurentian Winter Recreation Trails
  • Giant's Ridge Ski Area
  • Lookout Mountain - Laurentian Divide Fitness Trail
  • Sturgeon River Trail
  • Tofte Ranger District (Tofte MN)
  • Caribou Lake Hunter Walking Trails
  • Isabella Area Winter Recreation Trails
  • Flathorn - Gegoka Ski Trails
  • Tofte Winter Recreation Trails
  • Lutsen Mountains Ski Area
  • Sugarbush (Britton, Moose Fence, Oberg) Ski Trails
  • Wills Lake Hunter Walking Trails

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities