Springtime Ski and Hike in Lutsen

Springtime Ski and Hike in Lutsen, Minnesota

Springtime on the North Shore overlaps late season skiing and early season hiking. When the sun comes out and temps get into the 50’s, it’s time for some fun in the sun! In Lutsen you can enjoy a springtime ski and hike – at Lutsen Mountains and the Poplar River.

Spring Skiing at Lutsen Mountains

Lutsen Mountains Ski Area has an extended seasonĀ through the first weekend in May. After the regular season is over in mid-April, Lutsen Mountains keeps Eagle Mountain (one of their four mountains) open on weekends into May. In fact, no other ski area in the Midwest stays open this late. So the spring-skiing sugar-snow seekers from all over the Northern US and Canada show for the shenanigans.

Spring Skiing at Lutsen Mountains - May 5

Spring Skiing at Lutsen Mountains – May 5

Spring skiing brings out the friendliest people! There is a unique camaraderie among this group for a shared passion for the sport. When I say, “the sport,” what I really mean is the freedom, the speed, the sunshine, the scenery…and the shredding. Spring skiing and snowboarding is less about “the sport” than it is about getting outside and having fun after a long, cold winter (and shredding). The folks that you meet on the mountain are all chasing that certain passion, and the good mood shines brighter than a sunny day in May.

Snowboarding in May at Lutsen Mountains

Snowboarding in May at Lutsen Mountains

Hike to the Poplar River Falls

When you’re ready for a break, change out your ski boots for a pair of hiking boots. From the ski slopes, hike over to the Superior Hiking Spur Trail down to the Poplar River Falls (click here for a map). It’s less than a mile. If you don’t want to hike the whole way, drive to the end of the dirt road to the Superior Hiking Trail parking lot. From here it’s a short hike to the falls. (This section of the Poplar River is called the Upper Falls because there are a series of lower falls near the Superior National Golf Course and Lutsen Resort, before it empties into Lake Superior.)

Poplar River facing north from the Superior Hiking Trail bridge.

Poplar River facing north from the Superior Hiking Trail bridge.

This lightly traveled spot brings you to a footbridge over the river. Right under the bridge, the river narrows creating a violent rock and water funnel. And it’s right under your feet! And the sound is incredible! Check out the video below.

This waterfall is more of a shallow rock slope with water rumbling down, instead of a traditional straight-down waterfall. But the fact that you can stand right over that dramatic roar of water is pretty heart-pounding!

More Hiking along the Poplar River

A short hike up river from the falls (on the NE side), access a wide, flat stretch of the Poplar River. Approx. 1/4 mile up the trail is a canoe launch area with a small dock. It’s a relaxing spot highlighted by the gentle flow and grassy wetlands.

Poplar River north of the Upper Falls, at the Canoe Launch.

Poplar River north of the Upper Falls, at the Canoe Launch.

From here there are a few of options to continue your hike. 1. Continue to follow the trail up river to Barker Lake. 2. Access the Superior Hiking Trail. 3. Go back to the falls, cross the river, and take the bike trail down the SW side of the river towards the Gondola line. We decided to call it a day and head back to Lutsen Mountains for a few more runs.

Tips for making the most of your Skiing and Hiking afternoon:

  • Conditions for skiing and/or hiking may not be ideal in late spring. Let this enhance your fun!
    • Hiking Trail conditions this time of year range from horrendous to normal. Be prepared to encounter thick mud, slush, running water, and snow piles in some areas. But, no bugs!!
    • On the slopes you may encounter soft sugar-snow, puddles or running water, or patchy areas with ground showing. But you probably won’t need a coat!
  • Wear layers.
  • Pack a lunch and eat it at the canoe launch. Or get a snack from the Chalet and eat it on the deck while watching the skiers.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses are recommended.
  • Start a conversation, make a friend.
  • Head to Caribou Cream Maple Syrup in Lutsen to pick up some of the freshly made maple syrup! Read more here.

Three places to stay on the mountain:


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