Three of My Favorite Short Winter Hikes
I occasionally hear guests asking about things to do in winter while visiting Larsmont Cottages. Questions like, "It's the middle of winter, and it's cold outside - How can I get outside and enjoy the North Shore?" Another thing I hear is, "There are so many things I want to do while I am here, how do I choose which place to visit?" I typically answer by saying there are many short hikes within a stones' throw of Larsmont. Plus, believe it or not, winter hikes are actually enjoyable! There are no bugs to worry about, and the summer crowds are nearly non-existent, giving you the solitude of having the trail or state park almost entirely to yourself.
I recently got out the last couple of days on a few good short hikes, and when I set foot on the trail with Jade (my dog), the temperature was about zero, but with the sun out and only light wind, the weather was quite comfortable. Also, these hikes were away from the big lake, except for one hike. These days can make for some beautiful time on the trail. So if you prepare yourself by dressing warmly in layers, your bound to have an excellent adventure up the shore, even in zero-degree temperatures.
In this blog, I will tell you about a few of my favorite short hikes made even more beautiful in winter. You can squeeze a few of these hikes in a day with time to warm up in the car in between your next stops. Here are three of my favorites and all within an hour's drive of Larsmont.
As with all rivers on the shore, the Temperance River has its own unique features, including hidden falls, potholes, severely undercut rock, and a canyon that will challenge your brain as to how it got that way. Access to the trails can be gained by merely pulling off to the side of the road about four miles shy of Tofte. The trail begins right out the parking area, scurries around the falls pool, and begins its climb uphill. Don't be too worried about it, though. It's reasonably gradual as you make your way to the top, where you can catch a view of the top of the falls via a CCC era viewing wall, or you can scurry right out on the rock to get yourself closer to the water. As the trail continues, it sticks closely to the river and eventually will spur off to several loop options on the eastern side of the river. You can make a pretty salutary loop here in around an hour or so. It always surprises me how many people just drive by this one. This is definitely one of my favorite short winter hikes.
This cove was used back in the "old days" as a harbor for transporting logs, and along the trails you can still see plenty of evidence of what was done way back when. As you are making your way up the shore, Sugarloaf will be about 7 miles shy of Schroeder. There you will find a good-sized parking area with a trail that leads down to your options of a nature trail, forest walk, or a trail that runs directly to a beautiful stone beach. The cove is a lovely harbor unlike any other along the shore. You can follow the beach trail all the way out to the point where you will find a sugarloaf. If you want to know what a sugarloaf is, there are plenty of interpretive signs to explain everything to you along your hike. I'll just tell you that it is made of rock, and based on experience, climbing it is pretty easy but getting down is a bit tricky. Sugarloaf is yet another hike that you can do quickly in cold weather, or on more mild days, you will find plenty of spots to simply hang around. Another one of my favorite quick getaway spots.
Caribou River and Falls
This is undoubtedly the most underrated waterfall on the North Shore and is underrated because not many people stop here. I don't want to give away all of our best spots, but this one is a must-see. You will find the Caribou River right at the Lake and Cook County line, and there you will find a state wayside. There will be a sign close to the parking area showing you options for the Superior Hiking Trail, and one of those options points an arrow in the direction of Caribou Falls. It is only about a half-mile hike to the falls. It is uphill but gradual enough to keep everyone you're with happy. Once you have gone a half-mile, you will come to some stairs on your left. Those stairs will take you down to the base of the falls, and when you see them, you will wonder why you waited so long. The unique thing about these falls is that they are a twin falls where one is directly above the other, and when you are at the pool at the base of these falls, you are surrounded by rock so high that you almost have to lean back to see the whole picture. Frankly, as far as falls go, these just might be the most beautiful falls on the shore. If you were to ask me, "Where do I find some nice waterfalls?" this is where I would be sending you. This hike gets you an authentic SHT (Superior Hiking Trail) hiking experience with the reward of some very stunning scenery. I could go on and on, but I'll stop and let you find out for yourself.
So, when you ask me how you can enjoy your North Shore weekend in winter, there is one thing I am going to tell you. Get out and take one of these hikes. You don't have to go long, and you don't have to very far from the resort. Dress warm, wear good boots, and warm yourself up in the car in between stops. Sounds like a pretty good way to spend a day to me, and I often do.
I'll see you at the resort or on the trail.
As an avid outdoorsman Mark has explored the North Shore from Duluth to Grand Portage. And he's ready to spill the beans on the region's best hikes, vistas, and adventures. Stay tuned to his blog for trail reports, new activities, and more.
Mark runs the activities program at Larsmont Cottages which is open to all guests of Odyssey Resorts.