Surfers, 'Ice Bars,' Winter Trails on North Shore of Lake Superior

Minnesota’s North Shore region is a wild angle of land laced with rivers, cliffs, deep woods, and a mini mountain range called the Sawtooths. We took a winter retreat to the area this month in search of deep snow but instead found locals reveling in a January thaw. From trail running to ice climbing to surfing on Lake Superior’s waves, we captured some of the action and jumped in to participate where we could in the Minnesota wintertime rites. —Stephen Regenold

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Neoprene hoods and thick wetsuits make winter surfing possible on Lake Superior

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Trail map: Superior Hiking Trail tracks the most dramatic topography along the North Shore

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Surf’s up! About 20 winter surfers braved the January temps at Stoney Point, a break south of Two Harbors, Minn.


We based the weekend out of the Grand Superior Lodge in the Castle Danger area

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Waves rolled in steps from the lodge’s back door, and a deck made for an ultimate spot to watch the sun rise from the dark plane in the east

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Embracing the cold, the Grand Superior Lodge built a bar outside from blocks of crystal clear ice — the BLU Ice Bar — complete with tables and benches of ice with fur throws on the seats

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The Superior Hiking Trail snakes for 275 miles along Lake Superior and through the Sawtooth Mountains of northern Minnesota. We ran a section of the trail for 5 miles through the snow

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Backpack and accessories maker Granite Gear is headquartered on the North Shore in the town of Two Harbors. We stopped in for a visit with CEO Jeff Knight (pictured)

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Gooseberry Falls, frozen and ready for ice climbers on the shore

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Ice bear carving at BLU Ice Bar

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Frozen shore near Castle Danger

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A hike down the shore-hugging Gitchi-Gami State Trail


Plaque atop Silver Creek Cliff overlook

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Cars lined up along the beach, surfboards attached to racks and bumper stickers hinting to the tribe

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Shack along the North Shore

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Surfer coming in to warm up after a set

—Stephen Regenold is a native Minnesotan. He wrote about surfing on Lake Superior in 2009 for the New York Times in the story “Hanging 10 (Degrees) on Icy Lake Superior.”