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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

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

Ice bear carving at BLU Ice Bar

Frozen shore near Castle Danger

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

Plaque atop Silver Creek Cliff overlook

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

Shack along the North Shore

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.”

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Stephen Regenold is Founder and Editor-In-Chief of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for nearly two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of four small kids, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.