This is a question we frequently receive at the Bluefin Bay Guest Services desk, so we thought it might be helpful to construct a list of the 5 best hiking trails for kids in the Lutsen/Tofte area.
What constitutes a great trek for kids, you ask? The formula we utilized is equal parts easy, safe terrain + fun stuff to look at = great hike for kids.
Caribou Falls– This hike is just over a mile long and is an out and back. There is a bit of a steep climb toward the end but the waterfall you get to see is worth it. Pro Tip: This is also a great spot for swimming!
Temperance River – Temperance River State Park is a super cool place to explore. The trail winds along the river for quite a while and you can go as far as you want. Important: You do need to be careful with younger kids as there are some steep overlooks!
Leveaux Mountain – This is a bit of a longer hike at 3.2 miles. Leveaux Mountain shares a parking lot with the popular Oberg Mountain, but Leveaux is less busy and has fewer overlooks. The woods are fun to explore and there is one awesome overlook at the top. Pro Tip: This hike is lined with Maple Trees toward the top and is beautiful in the fall!
Lake Agnes – Enjoy a leisurely trek to beautiful Lake Agnes. This section of the Superior Hiking Trail will take you through a variety of different forests (Maple, Cedar, Birch) and offers an opportunity for swimming when you arrive. Pro Tip: Take the spur trail to White Sky Rock. You won’t regret it!
Cascade River State Park – Cascade is one of the most popular State Parks in Minnesota and for good reason! The park is located where the river flows into Lake Superior and features beautiful waterfalls the whole way down. Pro Tip: If you are in the mood for something super quick, you only need to hike about a quarter of a mile to see the first (and largest) waterfall!
New Summer Activities
We often hear from our returning guests that they cherish the memories they’ve made at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts. This is one of our favorite comments because it means that we are providing our guests with experiences that they might not otherwise have an opportunity to partake in. In that spirit, we have expanded our activities program this year to include new adventures and more of the excursions that you all have raved about. All activities listed below are included in your stay at Bluefin Bay, Surfside or Temperance Landing.
Introduction to Mountain Biking will consist of riding a new single-track mountain biking trail called “The High Climber”. Although this particular trail is marked as easy, it is a rigorous activity. We will provide instruction, but you can expect there to be some hard peddling, rolling over some rock gardens, and sweeping berms. A fall or two is common and part of the fun! This activity will be available on Sundays and Thursdays throughout the summer.
Our other new activity, Outdoor Movies, is a bit more laid back. We will be showing a family friendly movie Friday evenings on a large inflatable screen outside on the lawn at Surfside Resort. No sign up necessary. We’ll bring the popcorn!
It has been a spectacular waterfall season on the North Shore so far and it keeps getting better! The spring season started off rather dry to the point where we were under fire danger warnings for a little while. Around mid-April, the weather turned and we had a full week of rain. The steady rain melted all remaining snow and got the rivers to really begin to run. Since then, the inland lakes have also opened up which adds even more water. The waterfalls are now flowing at their full glory and we expect they will continue to be spectacular through May.
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 (pictured above) — to raging falls right in Bluefin Bay’s back yard. If you’ve never experienced our spring waterfalls, it’s truly a sight to be seen, heard and felt. Check out our favorite waterfalls videos below or see our waterfalls page for more information on our favorite hikes.
Fall Color Report: September 22 – Oberg Mountain
We are kicking off Fall Color reporting with our favorite destination for this time of year, Oberg Mountain. We tagged along with the Activities Crew as they ventured out on their tour on Saturday and boy are we glad we did! As of today, the DNR is currently reporting our region to be in the 25-50% range.
It’s always a challenge to predict the peak colors on the North Shore. As many of you probably know, it happens in two distinct phases. First, the maples come ablaze with bright red and brilliant orange leaves. Secondly, the aspen and birch present their golden glory. Some argue there is a third phase when the tamarack trees begin to change, which usually occurs in late October or even early November.
We are very much in that first peak now and Oberg was a fantastic spot to view the colors. The maple trees are beautiful both from the ground and from the overlooks. The birch and aspen have just begun changing and have a little ways to go. The good news is that we don’t have any storms predicted in the forecast, which should help the leaves to hang on a bit longer this year.
If you are coming to stay with us this Fall, be sure to check the activities schedule in advance. We have guided hikes, bike & hikes, fall color kayaking and wilderness canoeing. All of these activities are designed to get our guests outside exploring the most colorful season on the North Shore.
North Shore Fall! If you want in, book now
Our Fall availability is filling fast!
Fall on Minnesota’s North Shore is one of the most breathtaking seasons and best times to visit. The star of the show is, of course, the vibrant fall color along Minnesota’s North Shore, including the Sawtooth Mountains and Superior National Forest.
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 actual 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.
At Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, we enjoy helping guests experience the North Shore on foot, by pedal, canoe, kayak, or car.
For those who prefer to hit the trails to experience the changing leaves up close and personal — our guided fall hikes are fantastic. Prefer to go solo? No problem. We can you point you to the best (and less-populated trails) and the best color during your visit. The cool days are perfect for hiking in your favorite sweatshirt, and best when followed by a campfire and smores’ from the Bluefin Bay beach.
If you prefer to explore by bike, you can choose from the Gitchi Gami paved trail along the shoreline or off-road biking trails that offer adventure and an up-close-and-personal leaf peeping experience. Wilderness canoeing and inland kayaking are exceptional ways to see the colors from a different vantage point – the water. Join a guided excursion or head out on your own and paddle at your own pace.
In the fall, the North Shore feels a bit more laid back and relaxed — and that’s why we love it! But this year, we’re seeing different travel patterns and more people favoring driving vacations. Our fall is booking in fast.
Book now for fall travel through October
So, if you’re planning to join us at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts for a fall getaway, we encourage you to plan and book ahead. Fall bookings are already strong and availability for Sept. is limited.
Here’s a tip: If you don’t see your ideal dates or unit style available online, consider midweek travel as there is likely to be more availability and the fall colors are just as great midweek. 😉 If you have the flexibility due to remote work and/or the kids are distance learning vs the classroom, midweek travel could be a great option. Our reservationists can help at 1-800-258-3346.
Fall dining — also good to plan ahead
Planning your dining in advance may also help with your travel experience. If you would like indoor dining reservations at the Bluefin Grille, we encourage you to book in advance of your stay. We seat by reservation only for limited indoor seating at the Grille due to Covid-19 restrictions. View our online menu or book your reservation here.
Tip #2: Pack your jacket (and maybe your gloves), as well as your patience. The weather can be a bit more unpredictable for outdoor dining in the fall than summer, especially with Lake Superior breezes. We continue to offer takeout, outdoor dining on several patios and picnic tables, as well as limited indoor dining at both the Bluefin Grille and Coho Cafe & Bakery. Visit our dining pages here to learn more.
Tip #3: Many of our unit styles have full kitchens, so consider booking one of these and cooking and eating in your condo or townhome. All Temperance Landing log homes have full kitchens, as well as two bedroom townhomes at Surfside, and most one and three bedrooms at Bluefin Bay. If you’re unsure, ask a reservationist for help at 1-800-258-3346.
Sign up for activities and fall color tours in advance
Because the fall will be busier this year, we encourage you to register in advance for our complimentary guest activities. Whether it’s a guided fall color hike, or you want to join a wilderness canoeing or inland kayaking adventure, it’s best to sign up in advance to ensure your spot. Check out our full schedule of activities and pre-register here.
We look forward to welcoming you to Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts this fall and hope these tips will help you plan a safe and fun experience.
Now, Fall is almost here. So enjoy this fall video for a little inspiration!
Oberg Mountain Hike
The Oberg Mountain Loop is a spur trail of the Superior Hiking Trail and is a staff and guest favorite year-round! After meeting at guest services we’ll start off with a short drive up to the top of the Onion River Road.
From the trailhead, we’ll gradually climb through a Maple and Cedar forest for a half mile before coming to a steeper ascent to reach the top of Oberg Mountain. This gorgeous trail travels in a loop atop the mountain and follows the ridgeline offering panoramic views and several overlooks of Lake Superior, Oberg Lake, and The Sawtooth Mountains.
Don’t forget…sturdy shoes, dress for the weather, water bottle, camera! Sign up ahead of time. Meet in the Guest Services building at Bluefin Bay Resort.
Stay Safe 2020 Update: We are recommending all participants drive separately, if it is an offsite activity. If requested, there will be space for a family group up to four in our vehicle to the offsite location. Reservations are not take prior. All participants are required to wear a mask if they choose to ride in a Bluefin vehicle. We will also encourage you to stay back if you have been experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19 in the last 14 days. Masks are required indoors, at the trail head, and in areas where physical distancing is not possible. Masks will be given prior to the trip departing. Please participate in helping to protect staff, community members, and other participants.
Relax and Recharge With a Hike!
Have you heard about the Japanese practice called Forest Bathing? Basically, it’s the act of being in nature with an awareness of the sights, sounds, and smells that are all around us in order to benefit our well-being. In other words, we allow ourselves the time to unplug, relax, and recharge in nature.
Here among the forests of Minnesota’s North Shore we have almost unlimited opportunities to immerse ourselves in nature. Hiking is the #1 favorite activity of our guests! Because of this, the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts activities department strives to make access to our incredible surrounding forests easy, inspiring, and fun. We offer many complimentary guided hiking opportunities year-round. In addition, all of our hikes include a shuttle to and from the hiking destination and are led by an experienced guide.
We’ve listed just a few of our favorite late-summer hikes:
OBERG MOUNTAIN HIKE: If we had a signature hike this would probably be it! There is something about this beautiful little mountain that keeps people coming back time and time again. This gorgeous trail travels in a loop atop the mountain and follows the ridgeline offering panoramic views and several overlooks of Lake Superior, Oberg Lake, and The Sawtooth Mountains.
LOWER FALLS: New this year, this hike takes place in the heart of the beautiful George H Crosby Manitou State Park. Once on the hike, you’ll quickly realize that this is a hidden gem here on the North Shore. Most of the hike is on the Superior Hiking Trail where we’ll make a stop at a trail shelter to talk about the natural history of this wilderness paradise.
CARIBOU FALLS: A pleasant walk along the Caribou River leads to one of the most breath-taking waterfalls on the North Shore! The Caribou Falls hike begins at one of our favorite Minnesota State Waysides and also provides access to the Superior Hiking Trail.
Visit the resort activity schedule for more hikes and other fun outdoor adventures to enjoy during your getaway.
Remember… ‘Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.’ ~John Muir
Fall Color Report: Happy October From Lookout Mountain!
Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts Fall Color Report:
1+ miles inland: 50-75% Fall Colors. 30-40% Fall Colors along Lake Superior.
October is here! We decided to celebrate with a morning hike to Lookout Mountain in Cascade River State Park to check out the fall colors. After a couple of cold nights this past week most of the area is now in prime fall color viewing. We are still only at 30-40% fall colors closer to Lake Superior but the farther inland maples and aspen are showing their best bright orange, red and golden colors!
For today’s hike, we started off on the same route that our complimentary guided Cascade River Hiking Trip goes on – winding along the beautiful Cascade River with stops at a series of stair-stepping waterfalls which give this river its name. If you are looking for a little longer hike with the addition of some breathtaking overlooks we suggest trying the trail to Lookout Mountain. This out-and-back 3.5-mile trek along the Superior Hiking Trail through cedar, birch, aspen, and maple forests ends at an overlook with breathtaking views of the Sawtooth Mountain Range in full color. Plus, you’ll get great views of Lake Superior and the shoreline that leads up toward Grand Marais. This overlook is the perfect spot to stop for a snack and some Instagram-worthy photos!
This week’s Lookout Mountain trail fall photo gallery…
Fall Color Report: Leveaux Mountain Trail
Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts Fall Color Report: 95% Summer Colors and 5% Fall Colors
Labor Day 2018 has come and gone and it’s now time to think FALL! Changing leaves, crisp mornings, sunny afternoons, and abundant outdoor recreation activities. Yes, please!
Here on the North Shore we typically see peak fall colors between mid-September and early October. Because of the powerful Lake Superior, we are fortunate to experience longer color than the rest of Minnesota. The first color change starts inland and gradually moves toward the Lake Superior shoreline where the last of the trees turn for the season. For almost a month, you can enjoy many different spectacular color drives or hikes depending on when you visit.
Each week, starting today, we’ll report on a different activity that is perfect for viewing the fall colors plus an update on the fall color change. Look for it every Monday morning until Mid-October.
Yesterday we drove to the top of the Onion River Road and headed out on one of our favorite guided resort hikes: The Leveaux Mountain Loop. This hike takes off from the same trailhead parking lot as the popular Oberg Mountain Loop. Don’t miss the less-traveled Leveaux hike where you’ll experience an almost magical feel as you hike through old growth cedar and red pine forests mixed in with maple and birch. For this hike, you’ll be on the main Superior Hiking Trail for part of it as well as the spur trail that leads to the overlook loops. The total hike is just over 3 miles and considered moderate in difficulty. A few switchbacks and short climbs are a bit steep but these are complemented by two gently rolling terrain loops at the top that provide incredible overlooks in all directions. Up here you’ll have a view of Carlton Peak, Britton Peak, Taconite Harbor, and Lake Superior on one side and a distant view of the Lutsen Mountain Ski Hills, lush inland forests, and the rest of the Sawtooth Mountain Range on the other.
We are reporting only a slight change in color and still 95% summer green colors on the trees. There were a few trees that decided to turn some of their leaves early which did get us excited for the colors to come. For now, summer is still here!
A few photos from our hike…
Activity Spotlight: Caribou Falls!
Our Caribou Falls guided hike begins with a short shuttle drive to a favorite Minnesota State Wayside. A pleasant walk along the Caribou River leads to one of the most breath-taking waterfalls on the North Shore! We’ll descend four flights of stairs to the base of the stunning 35-foot waterfall and then hike back up to the top…remember to count the number of steps for bragging rights later on! We’ll spend plenty of time at the base of this incredible waterfall just taking in the sights and sounds of this pretty river gorge. Once we start our climb back up and reach the top of the stairs, we’ll continue north on the trail for a short distance where you’ll enjoy a large observation platform with an amazing view of Lake Superior and the falls below.
The Caribou Falls hike is a great family activity because of its shorter distance and relatively gradual incline. Those who do not want to tackle the long set of stairs to the base of the falls can choose to head straight to the observation deck where you’ll enjoy a longer pit stop for enjoying the view. This hike is wonderful in all seasons but especially in the spring when the waterfalls are really rushing and in the fall as the leaves are popping with color!