Just feet from groomed fat bike trails in the winter or mountain bike singletrack, fishing, hiking, and more in summer, a new resort in northern Minnesota redefines the cabin in the woods. Welcome to True North Basecamp.
True North Basecamp is home to six cozy lakefront cabins in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, about two hours north of Minneapolis. Each of the cabins, though structurally identical, are individually decorated by local Minnesota companies, including Artcrank, Twin Six, and yours truly, GearJunkie (Cabin C1).
But what really sets this place apart is its dedication to adventures in the outdoors. Everything at True North is intended as a “basecamp,” meaning the reason for your visit lies outside the doors of your funky little abode.
Lodging And Amenities
The 275-square-foot cabins are cool and spartan in their industrial design, modeled after the taconite mining industry buildings that long ago surrounded the many nearby mining pits. They’re simple, each with a dinner table and chairs, one full and three twin beds, and AC/Heat, yet modernized with Wi-Fi and USB charging ports. A nearby shower house is well lit, clean, and climate-controlled with heated floors.
If you’re looking for an even more primitive weekend, 33 campsites sit nearby, just a short walk into the woods from the shower house.
Despite the nice cabins and amenities, you won’t find yourself at “basecamp” very much. With 20 miles of groomed winter fat biking trails, 25 miles of spring/summer/fall IMBA certified singletrack mountain bike trails, 30+ lakes, endless hiking, and 5,000 acres of wilderness, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another adventure hub of that caliber.
Activities range from mountain biking to hiking, kayaking, SUPing, snorkeling, and trout fishing. Thanks to fat biking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing, there’s no off-season.
That’s exactly why co-founders Dan Jurek and Jeff Bajek set out in 2014 to build a primitive, yet reliable, and comfortable basecamp in the area. Now, high on a ridge above 27-acre Armour Mine Lake #2, True North Basecamp is fully operational and provides unrivaled access to some of the best trails in the nation.
All you have to do is exit your cabin, head down a hill and across a small bridge, and you’re on a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) road that services the entire 25-mile trail system.
Adventure Weekend Getaway
Instead of spending Valentine’s Day at a pricey restaurant or amidst a pile of chocolate and teddy bears, my wife and I spent the weekend at True North Basecamp. Upon arrival, we settled into the GearJunkie cabin and spent the first night cooking soup and quesadillas on our Coleman stove under the stars on the picnic table outside (it would have been quite romantic if the wind chill hadn’t been at -30 degrees F).
The next morning, we rose early and hit the Cuyuna fat bike trails. Because the DNR road has several signs with trail maps and the trails are well marked, we had no problem finding our way as first-timers. Per Dan’s request, we bombed down a few must-hit trails, Bobsled and Miner’s Mountain, riding at a break-neck speed on the groomed singletrack. World-class indeed.
Throughout the weekend, we fat biked about 30 total miles, snowshoed to the top of Lookout Mountain, walked on several frozen lakes, watched the sunset from our cabin windows, and sipped on piping hot chocolate fresh from the stovetop.
In a brief conversation with co-founder Jeff Bajek, he mentioned that many people have told him that he and his business partner Dan are “sitting on a gold mine” with regard to their newfound True North Basecamp. With six cabins, 33 campsites, one large heated shower house, and prime access to world-class biking, hiking, paddling, and SUPing, I couldn’t agree more.
Whether you’re a Minnesota resident or not, True North Basecamp should be on your top places to visit this year.
Nightly Cabin & Camping Rates
- Cabin (sleeps 5): Sun – Thurs; $99
- Cabin (sleeps 5): Fri – Sat; $129
- Camping: Sun – Thurs; $35
- Camping: Fri – Sat; $45
All in all, it’s a killer deal for the nice amenities.
More To Come?
Be on the lookout for more of these affordable “basecamps” popping up in your area, like The Crash Pad in Chattanooga, Tenn., which rents out bouldering pads and provides trail maps for local mountain biking and hiking. We’re digging this trend and we hope to see more adventure resorts springing up across the nation.