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Minnesota or nearby in winter
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Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Minnesota or nearby in winter on 10/28/2011 09:03:23 MDT Print View

I want to head up north to experience real winter this January or February. Ohio will be sweltering in the 20's and 30's! :)

I'd like to take a 1-3 night trip, covering somewhere around 8-12 miles per day on snowshoes or skis and staying in the forest as much as possible.

What trails or areas should I consider?

Are there any groups, group trips, or others on this site who might want to plan a trip? I checked, and the only thing I could find in the twin cities area was a group which was thinking about maybe doing a little winter camping.

Edited by AndyF on 10/28/2011 09:04:02 MDT.

Tom Ferry
(thecook) - F
winter trips in MN or nearby on 10/28/2011 12:18:48 MDT Print View

The Porcupine Mtns in Michigan should give you cold, snow, and milage in forest. If you want to do some of the SHT try PMing Chad. I believe he lives in Duluth and has a flexible schedule. Unfortunately, I can't get out this winter or I'd love to plan a trip with.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Minnesota or nearby in winter on 10/28/2011 14:05:54 MDT Print View

Boundary Waters Canoe Area provides almost endless possibilities. You'd be out in the open on frozen lakes but there are routes that link smallish lakes and the portage trails provide intermittent cover.

Tom Ferry mentioned the Porkies and SHT.

North Country Trail runs thru Northern WI and has another completed section in north central MN although there might be issues finding trailhead parking that is plowed (bring scoop shovels).

I like winter camping and might be available ... too early in our winter planning to commit yet. However 8-12 miles per day is beyond my limits in the deep snow they typically get up there (snowshoe, not ski for me)

SHT Jan 2011 1
water break ... averaging about 1 MPH in deep snow

jan 2011 SHT 2

jan 2011 sht 3
fleeting glimpse of juvenile Sasquatch

Edited by jcolten on 10/28/2011 14:09:19 MDT.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Re: Minnesota or nearby in winter on 10/31/2011 09:03:03 MDT Print View

Thanks Tom and Jim!

Those are some inspirational photos of some real snow, Jim! Realistically, I'll probably be limited to 1 mph on snowshoes in deep snow too. Hilarious Sasquatch photo! :)

I was reading about the Border Route Trail, which looks appealing:

Jim, I'll send you a pm with my email address in case you want to plan a trip sometime.

Edited by AndyF on 10/31/2011 09:03:47 MDT.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Minnesota or nearby in winter on 11/02/2011 22:09:21 MDT Print View

Border Route Trail could be "interesting" in the winter ... (many people finding it so in summer)!

There are good local sources of recent intel concerning that trail. I know a stretch of that trail that would be spectacular if it's been maintained recently. Might even be a loop possibility ... I'll see what I can find out.

BTW, BRT is as far away from Ohio as you can get in MN:-)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Minnesota or nearby in winter on 11/03/2011 00:03:26 MDT Print View


My company has an opportunity in Russia. I sent this email to my boss, "Please don't send me to Siberia."

He replied, "Funny you should mention Siberia. I met this girl in church who is from Siberia. She said it is just like Minnesota."

I replied, "That's my point."

Anyway, have fun this winter in Siberia :)

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Minnesota or nearby in winter on 11/03/2011 06:10:00 MDT Print View


Do I sense jealousy that you don't have this opportunity right outside your back door? (HE-HE)

It's more like Canada that Siberia though (as the name suggests, BRT offers some stunning views of our northern neighbor). However, it's no accident that MN has so many citizens with Scandinavian ancestry. I visited Helsinki and rural Suomi a few years ago and a friend told me "You'll love Finland ... it's just like Lake Superior's north shore ... he was right. Indeed, there's even a village named Finland up here.

My feelings about southern CA are similar to yours about northern climates ... can't comprehend living in a desert ... especially that thing about needing to import water.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Minnesota or nearby in winter on 11/03/2011 11:27:54 MDT Print View

"Do I sense jealousy that you don't have this opportunity right outside your back door? (HE-HE)"

Au, contraire :)

I apologize for hijacking the thread. We need to focus on the OP's desire to hike in Minn this winter. And winter is a time when many hikers go into hibernation, which is not necessary. There are some great benefits derived from winter backpacking, especially the fact you can have the wilderness to yourself.

I have worked in Minnesota in the winter. You folks have SERIOUS weather, and I hate it! Okay, call me a sissy.


For those not familiar with So Cal, we have excellent winter/snow opportunities. I do some snow trips every winter, although as a desert rat I struggle with the cold. My house sits near the base of Mt San Jacinto at an elevation of 517 feet. San Jacinto Peak is 10,834 feet. I sometimes hike to the peak from my house, but it is a strenuous undertaking. And we get a lot of snow every winter. Also if I drive 10 miles north to the PCT, I can hike to the top of Mt San Gorgonio (11,503'). San Jacinto is the 6th most topographically prominent peak in lower 48 states. San Gorgonio is 7th.

The nice thing about living in the desert is that I don't have to deal with snow, but I can go visit it whenever I wish :)

San Jac from house

Here is a view of San Jacinto from my front yard.

Tamarack Valley in winter

I have posted this picture here before. This was a spur of the moment trip this year at the end of March. Packed up, took the tram up and was in the snow within a hour of leaving my house. Got some snowfall on this trip too.

The north face of San Jacinto is one of the steepest escarpments in the lower 48.

San Jac North Face

Here is a picture of the north face I found on I did this route once when I was in my late 30's but it is not the route I take on my hikes. It is too dangerous for me now, and the public is no longer allowed to climb the lower section of Snow Creek as it is on land owned by the Desert Water Agency.

Dan McHale sent me a video of some guys who SKIED down the North Face of San Jacinto. Dan builds packs for the extreme fringe... so I guess this is normal stuff for him. I thought it might be interesting to share some pictures from that video. These guys took the tram up and then went to the peak. From there they skied down until they got into mountain climbing terrain. They roped down and spent the night near the bottom.

San Jac Ski 01

San Jac Ski 02

San Jac Ski 03

San Jac Ski 04

San Jac Ski 06_2

San Jac Ski 06

San Jac Ski 07

San Jac Ski 08

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Minnesota or nearby in winter on 11/03/2011 17:41:22 MDT Print View

I stand corrected.

Might have been temped to make some wisecrack about "tourist snow" but photos Nick provided pretty well shutdown that idea:-)

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Re: Minnesota or nearby in winter on 11/06/2011 21:51:12 MST Print View


The BRT is going to be quite a drive, but I don't mind taking extra time if it's worth it. We'll have to decide if it's do-able crazy or just plain crazy. :) Of course, my wife thought I was crazy last winter for going out with lows around 15 F. (She starts to talk about moving to Florida when the temp drops below 50 F.)


Funny stuff! I think I would prefer Siberia or somewhere in northern Scandinavia or Alaska, but I have to start somewhere. Those places are a little bit more of a drive too. :)

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Similar question on 12/11/2011 18:32:08 MST Print View

Similar question. I'm currently looking for a place to spend a few weekends this winter - without having to drive to the BWCA, North Shore, Superior Nat'l Forest, Porcupine Mtns, etc. For example, Duluth is 4 hours from where I live in Mankato, and drive time = less hiking time.

I don't like to camp in state parks or any other area where I must stay for a so-called "designated campsite" or where camping is not allowed. I'd rather make a stealth site and not worry about running afoul of a camp rule.

So this leaves a wildlife management area, county park, or question mark? - Any suggestions?

Another note - I'm trying to do some more off-trail stuff. I'm very, very, jealous of the folks in MT and the west who have vast wilderness complexes to suit their fancy.

Edited by citystuckhiker on 12/11/2011 18:33:14 MST.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Similar question on 12/11/2011 21:38:33 MST Print View

Hi Matt,

Hope the "family addition" project is going well. I'll be joining the grandparent's club next spring ... can't wait!

Regarding hiking ideas, how about Governor Knowles State Forest. I've hiked a bit of the trails, generally flat and near the river.

Across the river is the Chengwatana State Forest but I believe it was hit bad by a wind storm this summer.

You are in the wrong half of the state for public lands, here's the master state forests map