Fall Hiking

Rocky overlooks, tranquil forests, rushing waterfalls, and countless critters on one of the best-marked trails in the country create the perfect day hike experience for guests of all ages and abilities.

The Superior Hiking Trail has been dubbed the “Appalachian Trail of the Midwest” by the Chicago Tribune and was listed on Backpacker Magazine’s “10 Prime Trails That Leave All Others in the Dust.”

The initial inspiration for the Superior Hiking Trail came from the Appalachian Trail out east as a way to showcase Minnesota’s North Shore. Construction began in segments back in the 80s and, as of now, hikers can enjoy a 313-mile continuous hike from Duluth to Canada. The unique geography and Lake Superior views have put this trail on many folks’ bucket list. And Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts’ guests are no exception — hiking is our most popular guest activity.

Fall hiking offers some of the best, up close and personal views of the North Shore’s breathtaking fall colors. Waves of red, orange and yellow extend as far as the eye can see from the rocky ridges overlooking Lake Superior. In contrast are the pine green forest and blue hues of Lake Superior herself.

Fall enthusiasts contend there are actually two fall peaks on the North Shore. First to turn are the inland maples,  followed by the yellow and golds of the aspen and birch along Hwy 61/North Shore Scenic Drive. So in a good year, fall colors lasts for weeks! Lucky for us.

For those new to the North Shore area, new to hiking, or who simply enjoy the company of others, Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts offers guided hiking excursions almost daily free to guests. If you prefer to venture out on your  own, our Guest Services team can provide tips for the best fall color hikes during your visit, as well as maps and directions to the trailhead.

Here are a few of our favorite fall hikes on Minnesota’s North Shore:

  • Oberg Mountain: A great hike for the whole familyThis loop travels atop Oberg Mountain, following the ridgeline and offering expansive views and overlooks of Lake Superior, Oberg Lake, and the Sawtooth Mountains covered in brilliant reds, oranges and yellows. It’s rated easy/moderate and is a great hike for families. It is busy in almost any season, but especially fall. Bring your phone/camera!
  • Lake Agnus: Offers challenge & viewsExpect a steep climb for the first about .2 miles of this 3-mile hike, and after that the trail levels off. The forest is mixed hardwood, with sections of maples and old-growth cedars, and this hike offers a great view of Caribou Lake. It’s rated moderate and one of our fall favs.
  • Carlton Peak: The impressive Carlton Peak is visible from the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts and our guided hike is your chance to climb to the top! The panoramic views of Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountains are breathtaking in any season, but especially fall.
  • Section 13: Scenic beauty with challenge Section 13 is a down and back hike on the Superior Hiking Trail along the Baptism and Sawmill River Valleys. It’s considered by many through-hikers as one of the most scenic sections of the trail. This 2.7 mile hike isn’t for the faint of heart, the terrain is rough and the trail can be muddy during certain seasons. But, the view at the top is well worth the challenge!
  • Cascade River State Park: Great in the Spring & Fall — Cascade River State Park in Lutsen is an easy hike for the whole family and offers Superior National Forest fall color and cascading waterfalls as you hike along the beautiful Cascade River and see the series of stair-stepping waterfalls that give the river its name. We also offer a slightly more challenging hike to Lookout Mountain in Cascade River State Park.
  • Temperance River Bike & Hike: Easy, Colorful & FunBike along the paved Gitchi Gami Bike Trail to Temperance River, where we hike up river to catch breathtaking views of fall color and waterfalls, then bike back to Bluefin Bay. We also offer an Onion River Hike & Bike excursion.

Learn more about our specific guided hikes and the fall schedule on our resort activities and events calendar.

 

 

Biking

Experience The North Shore Powered by Pedals

You’ve hiked the trails. Paddled the lakes. Seen the views and watched the waves. So you think you know the North Shore. But you haven’t really experienced the shore until you’ve done it from atop two wheels. Powered by pedals, the rugged coastline and jagged mountaintops take on a whole new meaning. It’s an intimate experience, and a trip unlike any other.

At the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, we invite you to explore the shore by bicycle. Road and mountain bike rentals are included as part of your stay at any of our Bluefin Bay Resorts, and the area offers bike trails for both that meet all skill and ambition levels.

Bike the Gitchi Gami Trail

One of the most accessible biking experiences along the North Shore is the paved Gitchi Gami State Trail. Running through the backyard of Bluefin Bay parallel to the shores of Lake Superior, this recreational trail is planned to eventually extend 88 uninterrupted miles from Two Harbors to Grand Marais. As of now, more than 29 miles are complete.

From Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts — Bluefin Bay, Surfside or Temperance Landing, the closest trail sections are the Temperance River and the Lutsen Ski Hill Road Segments. The Temperance River Segment runs 3+ miles each way and travels from Tofte through the picturesque interior of Temperance River State Park to the town of Schroeder. The Lutsen Ski Hill Road Segment offers 7.3 miles (one way) of paved trails and stunning Lake Superior views.

Click here to learn more about the history of the Gitchi Gami State Bike Trail.

The Challenge of Off-Road Biking

For bikers looking for a challenge, the North Shore offers no shortage of off-road experiences. Ranging from lung-busting, white knuckled single track bike trails to winding backcountry roads, the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts area is home to more than 2,000 miles of trails.

Perfect for families or those new to trail riding, the nearby Onion River Road trail is a 7-mile round trip ride featuring a gradual climb through scenic forest. Intermediate riders will want to check out Heartbreak Hill Loop. And Britton Peak offers a series of single-track adventures for everyone from beginner to advanced riders.

Of course, trails are available as far as the end of the Gunflint Trail and north of Grand Portage. To find your perfect bike trail, stop by Guest Services or click here for more information and trail maps.

The Lutsen 99’er

Want to test your skills? You’re in luck. Every June, the hugely popular Lutsen 99er draws mountain bikers from across the country ready to take on a 99, 39 or 19-mile course spread across the mountainous North Shore terrain. Learn more about the Lutsen 99’er here.

Winter Fat Tire Biking

Biking is not just for summer anymore on the North Shore. Winter fat tire bikes are built around frames with wide forks and stays to accommodate the wide rims and soft rubber for the tires. And those tires are made to ride on soft, unstable terrain, such as snow, rocks, bogs and mud. One of the fastest growing winter sports has made its way to Cook County. Enjoy the mountainous terrain of the Lutsen-Tofte area is fantastic from the seat of a fat tire bike. Learn more about winter fat tire biking in Cook County here.

Complimentary Bike Rental

No matter your skill, age or trail preference, stop by Guest Services for an area trail map and trail condition information before heading out. No bike? No problem. All guests at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts have access to complimentary road and mountain bikes. Our bikes are new and ready for the trail. Join in the fun by reserving one of our Trek Marlin bikes ahead of time. In addition, we offer a number of Trek Shift 2 comfort bikes that are great for paved trails and road use.

For families, we have a range of kids’ bikes covering all sizes, including training wheels and tag along bikes. We also have Burley child carriers for adults to pull for younger children. Guests unprepared to head out on their own can take advantage of our weekly guided bike tours on our road bikes.

Check out our current guided biking schedule on the resort activities and events calendar here.

Happy peddling!

 

Fall Kayaking

One of the best ways to explore the North Shore in the fall is in a recreational kayak or canoe. While Lake Superior is too unpredictable and choppy to kayak in the Fall, our inland lakes are not.

Join us on a Fall Kayak Tour that combines a scenic drive through the maples of the Superior National Forest with a leisurely paddle on an inland lake where you’re sure to see some wildlife, as well as the breathtaking fall color. What a spectacular duo!

This fall kayak tour is perfect for seasoned kayakers as well as beginners. We provide all of the gear and the expert guide. Be sure to bring your phone/camera to capture the scenery. And dress in layers as our fall weather can be unpredictable on the North Shore.

 

 

Summer Hiking

Hiking on the Superior Hiking TrailRocky overlooks, tranquil forests, rushing waterfalls, and countless critters on one of the best-marked trails in the country create the perfect day hike experience for guests of all ages and abilities.

The Superior Hiking Trail has been dubbed the “Appalachian Trail of the Midwest” by the Chicago Tribune and was listed on Backpacker Magazine’s “10 Hiking - Superior Hiking TrailPrime Trails That Leave All Others in the Dust.”

The initial inspiration for the Superior Hiking Trail came from the Appalachian Trail out east as a way to showcase Minnesota’s North Shore. Construction began in segments back in the 80s and, as of now, hikers can enjoy a 313-mile continuous hike from Duluth to Canada. The unique geography and Lake Superior views have put this trail on many folks’ bucket list. And Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts’ guests are no exception — hiking is our most popular guest activity.

Hiking near Bluefin Bay Family of ResortsFor those new to the area, new to hiking, or who simply enjoy the company of others, Bluefin Bay Resorts offers guided hiking excursions multiple times per day throughout the summer. The Oberg Mountain Loop, Carlton Peak, and Temperance River State Park are some of the most popular hikes right in our back yard. But our Bluefin Bay Activities Director has been busy adding new hikes and adventures for all skill levels to the weekly activities line-up, including a Kids Adventure Club. Learn more about our specific guided hikes and the Kids Adventure Club on our resort activities and events calendar here.

Experience the Trail from the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts

A number of easily accessible and fun day trips on the Superior Hiking Trail can be found near the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts. Those wanting to enjoy a relatively, flat and easy hike will love the Britton Peak to Oberg Mountain portion which takes hikers through luscious boreal forests. More advanced hikers will appreciate the challenges and rewards provided along the 7-mile stretch of dense maple forests, grandiose scenic overlooks and endless rolling terrain that runs between Oberg Mountain and Lutsen. But, perhaps our favorite is a spur trail commonly called the Oberg Mountain Loop. This 2-mile moderate loop highlights glacial ridges, an inland lake and spectacular Lake Superior views all within minutes of your car.

For those who prefer to venture out solo, our complimentary shuttle service will bring guests to and from area trailheads. We’re happy to assist you plan the right trek for you and your family. Just stop by Guest Services for more information, or join us on one of our many daily guided hiking excursions.

Happy Trails!

 

Kayaking

Explore the shore on an expert guided kayak tour

So you’ve never worn a spray skirt, done a sweep stroke or dropped a rudder. Guess what? It doesn’t matter. With Bluefin Bay’s complimentary kayaking tours, everyone – from absolute beginners to advanced paddlers – can have a great time exploring Lake Superior from the water.

Beginning in June, daily tours of up to 10 guests head to our very own Bluefin Bay cobblestone beach, suit up in wetsuits, splash jackets, PFDs and gloves (all equipment is provided by Bluefin Bay), and climb aboard tandem sea kayaks to experience beautiful Lake Superior. Under the watchful eye of our expert and certified guides, tours typically head northeast along the rocky shoreline, paddling past waterfalls and over sea cliffs, dipping into caves and witnessing lots of wildlife.

More inland sea than lake, wind can sometimes be a factor on Lake Superior. When this happens, our guides play it safe and take guests to explore one of our many gorgeous inland lakes. Whether out on the Lake or in on a lake, we promise you won’t be disappointed.

Regardless of paddling experience, all physically capable guests ages 12 and older are welcome to join in the adventure. While the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts provides all necessary equipment, including the very safe and stable tandem kayaks, we do recommend wearing a swimsuit under the wetsuit and shoes that can get wet (take it from us – paddling barefoot is not a good idea).

Kayak tours hit the water three to four times daily through Labor Day (season may be extended due to weather and guest demand) and can be booked up to 30 days in advance.

You can now register online for our activities when you visit our Resort Activities & Events tab for the daily schedule. Given the perennial popularity of this watery adventure, we recommend reserving your spot now before all the paddles are taken.

 

 

Waterfalls

Top Picks for North Shore Waterfalls
& a WOW playlist
Waterfalls

The North Shore of Lake Superior has the best waterfall viewing of anywhere in Minnesota, perhaps the Midwest. The unique geologic formations along the North Shore allow visitors to witness breathtaking waterfalls ranging from the highest in Minnesota – the 120-foot High Falls at Grand Portage State Park — to raging falls right in Bluefin Bay’s back yard.

Temperance River WaterfallsSome of our favorite waterfall viewing and waterfall hikes include Temperance River State Park, Cascade River State Park, Baptism Falls at Tettegouche State Park, the Cross River at Schroeder,  as well as the surprise pop-up waterfalls along North Shore Scenic Drive, Highway 61.

Cascade River FallsIn the Spring when the snow melts, these waterfalls swell and create spectacular sights. A hike in a State Park with raging rivers and roaring waterfalls waterfall is not only great fun and sightseeing, but the hiking is equally spectacular. Many of the best North Shore waterfalls are a reasonable walk or a short drive from Bluefin Bay Resorts. Check with Guest Services for current trail conditions, waterfall sightseeing suggestions, and to learn more about our spring waterfall hikes.

View this printable map of the North Shore waterfalls along Scenic Highway 61 – North Shore Scenic Drive.

TRAVEL TIP: Embark on a Waterfall Sightseeing Tour as you head up (or down) the North Shore to/from Bluefin Bay Resorts. There are some spectacular waterfalls along the route.  Or, use Bluefin Bay Resorts as your home base and head in one direction or the other.

Top Waterfall Picks on Minnesota’s North Shore

The list and resource links below will help you plan your own Waterfall Sightseeing Tour! Tip: The rivers begin raging and the Falls roaring as the snow melts. In years where we’ve had a ton of snowfall, the waterfall season starts in late March and extends into May. Enjoy our top picks and view our Waterfall of the Week (WOW) playlist below.

  • Lester River Falls, about 5 miles from Duluth, near the Superior Street Bridge (with a creekside trail)
  • Gooseberry River State Park – Visit the Upper, Lower, Middle & Fifth Falls (a great place to stretch your legs & view spectacular spring waterfalls. There can be more people on weekends in the spring, but it’s a great spot for waterfall video!)
  • Split Rock River & Split Rock Lighthouse State Park – If you haven’t yet stopped at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, it’s a must see and a great place to spend an afternoon. It has a great 5-mile loop hike where you can see the river’s cascades (not waterfalls, but gorgeous)
  • Baptism River – Tettegouche State Park (High Falls & Two Step Falls) – breathtaking hiking and waterfall viewing and another guest favorite and a great place to spend an afternoon or just stretch your legs. Click here for map
  • Caribou Falls State Wayside – A great hike along the Caribou River leads to the base of the 40-foot Caribou Falls waterfall, and also provides stunning views of Lake Superior and the Caribou River gorge.
  • Cross River Falls at Schroeder – you can’t miss this 100′ falls as you drive right by on Hwy 61 as you head North to Bluefin Bay Resorts
  • Temperance River Falls at Temperance River State Park – truly a Bluefin Bay guest and staff favorite and the most popular waterfall viewing because of its beauty and proximity to all three Bluefin Bay Resorts. You can walk to Temperance River State Park from either Temperance Landing or Surfside Resort. The Temperance River carves out a narrow, twisted gorge before it empties into Lake Superior. You can walk around the rim of the gorge and climb down into it. There is parking right along Hwy 61 so it’s an easy stop on the way up or down the shore.
  • Cascades & Falls at Cascade River State Park – this is just north of Bluefin Bay Resorts, a beautiful drive along Scenic Highway 61 and one of the most accessible waterfall viewings for those who don’t want to do a lot of hiking. Another guest and staff favorite.
  • The Brule River with Upper Falls, Devils Kettle & Lower Falls in Judge Magney State Park — this is a hot spot for waterfall viewing and worth the drive. While Devil’s Kettle is the most famous of the Falls, most of our guests visit all three. Venture about a mile and a half inland for the Lower Falls first, then the Upper Falls and next Devil’s Kettle. (Again, don’t forget your phone or camera for spectacular video and photos in the Spring.)
  • High Falls of the Pigeon River at Grand Portage State Park – totally worth the drive from Bluefin Bay Resorts any time of year, but particularly in the Spring when the river is raging and this 120′ waterfall drop creates spectacular spray! (An easy half-mile trail leads to the Falls with two great decks for viewing. Have your camera and phone in hand!)

See more Cook County waterfalls & download a waterfall map here.

 

Wilderness Canoeing Experience

Wilderness Canoeing ExperienceOur Wilderness Canoeing Experience on the Poplar River has become a guest and staff favorite. Guests meet at Bluefin Bay Guest Services and take the resort shuttle to the Poplar River in Lutsen, then hike about a quarter of a mile to the canoes, and paddle two miles along the beautiful Poplar River. No past canoe experience is needed and children as young as five can participate. The trip is leisurely, scenic, and within the whole family’s capabilities.

Wilderness Canoeing ExperienceFor those who love to stay at the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts but have always wondered what a Boundary Waters Canoe experience would be like, this 2.5 hour trip gives you a flavor for the BWCA but is shorter and closer to home. Plus, we provide all of the equipment and an expert guide.

Because our Wilderness Canoe Experience is so popular, it fills quickly. To reserve your spot, be sure you sign up online by visiting our Resort Activities & Events tab and clicking on the date and time you prefer. This activity is quite popular in the summer and fall months.

 

Spring Hiking

Cascade River HikeThe Lutsen-Tofte area is home to some of the most beautiful and dramatic sections of the Superior Hiking Trail. This 205-mile footpath follows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior from Two Harbors to the Canadian border, passing through numerous state parks and featuring access every 5-10 miles along the shore.

The Superior Hiking Trail has been dubbed the “Appalachian Trail of the Midwest” by the Chicago Tribune and was listed on Backpacker Magazine’s “10 Prime Trails That Leave All Others in the Dust.”

For those new to the area, new to hiking, or who enjoy the company of others, Bluefin Bay offers guided hiking excursions. Favorite Spring hikes include those along the raving rivers and roaring waterfalls of our nearby state parks, including Temperance River State Park and Cascade River State Park.

Our Bluefin Bay Activities Director has been busy adding new hikes and adventures to the weekly activities line-up, including a Kids Adventure Club with special hikes and activities for adventurous kids. Learn more about our specific guided hikes and the Kids Adventure Club on our resort activities and events calendar here.

For those who prefer to venture out solo, our complimentary shuttle service will bring guests to and from area trailheads.

For more hiking trail maps, click here.

Fall Colors

Fall Colors near Bluefin Bay Family of ResortsPicture vibrant reds, pulsating oranges, and lively yellows spread out across the rugged Sawtooth Mountains. Now picture all of this set against the gorgeous clear blue autumn sky with the always breathtaking Lake Superior in the background.

There is nothing quite like fall color on the North Shore, and no place quite like Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts to plan your fall getaway. We offer an array of outdoor activities designed to get you out into the wilderness, including guided hikes on the Superior Hiking Trail and inland off-road biking.

If you prefer to take in the fall beauty on your own, our activities staff can recommend some of the best hiking trails and forest road drives in the area. Some of our favorites include Oberg Mountain, Carlton Peak, and Heartbreak Hill.

Fishing

Bluefin Bay guests have the unique opportunity to experience a scenic Lake Superior fishing excursion with  North Shore Outdoors Charter Fishing! Captain Kelly Shepard is a 6th generation Grand Marais guide and has been guiding hunters and fisherman since the mid-1970s. His vast knowledge and experience of Lake Superior, inland lakes and the surrounding wilderness will help your outdoor adventure be a memorable and successful one! Visit the activity calendar for available dates.

Fishing trips are also available to be privately booked with the local Tofte Charters. Visit their website for details and to book a trip.