Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe: Good Times!

Good Times at North Shore Candlelight Ski & Snowshoe Events

***Please note: these events are not happening in 2022 due to Covid restrictions.***

One of the North Shore’s friendliest winter events is the Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe Hike. North Shore Candlelight events take place at Gooseberry Falls State Park, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, and the Sugarbush Trails on Oberg Mountain. This adventure took us to the one on Oberg Mountain, between Tofte and Lutsen, Minnesota.

North Shore Candlelight Ski - Sugarbush Trails, Oberg Mt.

North Shore Candlelight Ski

To Ski or Snowshoe? That is the question.

Some of the Candlelight Ski & Snowshoe events offer either skiing or snowshoeing. The event hosted by the Sugarbush Trail Association at Oberg Mountain offers two separate candlelit trails for each activity. We decided to snowshoe, like most people that attended this event

Getting to Oberg Mountain

Oberg Mountain is the crossroads of the east end of the Sugarbush Trail System, the Superior Hiking Trail, and the very popular Oberg Mountain Loop. From Highway 61 at mile marker 87.5, turn onto the Onion River Road. Travel a few miles up into the Superior National Forest until you get to the Superior Hiking Trail parking area. 

After parking the car (beware of limited parking close by) we joined the nice crowd of people around the campfire and those that were coming and going from the trails. Candle luminaries lined the entrance and trail paths making for a very lovely and inviting experience.

Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe, Oberg Mountain

Trail entrance to candlelight ski and snowshoe

On the Trail – Fresh for the Falling In

The weather was perfect for this event! Temps hovered in the teens with clear to ice-hazy skies. There was a beautiful halo around the almost-full moon. Entering the forest with the blue moonlight reflecting off the deep snow (on the ground and heavy on the balsam boughs) is such a peaceful experience. You just want to stand there and soak in the serenity. And with the candle luminaries leading your way down the trail, it’s a very charming combination!

Serenity among the heavy snow, moonlit night, and candlelit trails

Serenity among the heavy snow, moonlit night, and candlelit trails

My friend and I decided to snowshoe without snowshoes (boots only). There was a lot of traffic and the trail was fairly packed down so we opted not to bother with the equipment. In the heavier flow of traffic, we thought it would be better than using the giant snowshoes that we brought.

BUT, on down the trail, we discovered that some sections weren’t as packed-down as they were at the beginning. As a result, it was way too easy to fall off the trail and find your leg post-holed into the deep snow! Careful! There is over 5 feet of snow in the Superior National Forest, fresh for the falling-in. This was kind of “a thing” for those snowshoeing without snowshoes. So, there were more than a few pedestrians stuck thigh-high in the ditch. This is not advised while winter hiking. In fact, just so you know, “post-holing” is pretty frowned upon by winter hikers. It is always recommended to wear the proper equipment as outlined in this article by (Sorry!) Oh, but the laughs! 

Post-holing on the Snowshoe Trail.

Post-holing on the Snowshoe Trail (not advised).

Good Times & Friendly Family Fun

Although there were many groups of people as well as couples on the trail, many of them were families traveling with five or more kids and adults in tow. It was fun to watch the shenanigans! Two siblings kept pushing each other off the trail into the deep snow, then tackling on top of one another. So I said to them, “Must be siblings, who’s the older one?” That’s when one of them said, “I’m the mom!”  LOL, that’s awesome! Other families had multi-colored glow strings around their heads or were just out together for the nighttime exploration by candlelight. Great quality time no matter who you’re with!

Post-holing on the Snowshoe Trail.

Snowshoe trail at Oberg Mountain lit by candlelight.

As I mentioned in the beginning, this is one of the friendliest events on the North Shore. There’s something about the moonlit woods and the snow-covered candlelit trails that brings out the best in people. Hellos and smiles along the trail no matter who you are! Hear the laughter of children and friends up ahead. Watch the kids run ahead of their parents to hide behind a tree and scare them. Hold out your hand to help a fellow hiker who went overboard into the snow. Casual conversation with your friend and meeting people along the way. Good times!

Campfire and Cookies

The turn-around spot was about a half-mile down the trail at the Onion River bridge. This one isn’t a loop, just go back the way you came. At the conclusion of our hike, we joined the small crowd back at the campfire. The Sugarbush Trail Association had hot cocoa and cookies on hand for all to enjoy. The kids on the trail were really looking forward to those cookies! It was such a happy ending to a great evening hiking at the Candlelight Ski & Snowshoe at Oberg Mountain.

Campfire at the Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe, Oberg Mt.

Campfire at the Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe, Oberg Mt.

North Shore Candlelight Ski & Snowshoe Events

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park: First Saturday February.

Gooseberry Falls State Park: Saturday of President’s Day Weekend

Oberg Mountain/Sugarbush Trail Association: Saturday of President’s Day Weekend

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Split Rock Lighthouse: A Short and Sweet Winter Treat

Sweetheart’s Bluff Hiking Trail in Grand Marais

Skinny Ski Paradise: The Sugarbush Trails

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