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 40’s and 50’s, it’s time for fun in the springtime sun! In Lutsen, you can enjoy a springtime ski and hike at Lutsen Mountains.

Spring Skiing on the North Shore

Even with this winter’s (2024) low snow and warmer than average temperatures, Lutsen Mountains Ski Area guarantees to be open through April 7.  When the conditions are good and the snow sticks around (as it does most years), they open an extended season on weekends through the first weekend in May.

During the extended season called Last Tracks, you can ski on Lutsen’s Eagle Mountain (one of their four mountains).  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. 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, Minnesota
Snowboarding in May at Lutsen Mountains, Minnesota

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.

The trail brings you to a footbridge over the river, but you will likely hear the river before you get there. This can be a heart-pounding spot because directly under the bridge, the river narrows creating a violent rock and water funnel!

After the river narrows in the funnel, the waterfall rumbles down a dramatic slope of violently churning water. It’s pretty intense and very cool!

More Hiking along the Poplar River

A short hike upriver from the falls (on the NE side) access a wide, flat stretch of the upper Poplar River. There is a canoe launch area with a small dock about a quarter-mile up the trail. It’s a relaxing spot highlighted by the gentle flow and grassy wetlands.

Upper Poplar River canoe launch, Lutsen
Upper Poplar River canoe launch area

From here there are a few options to continue your hike.

1. Continue to follow the trail upriver 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.

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!

More Things To Do In Lutsen

Hike to Lake Agness and White Sky Rock

Pick up some fresh, local Caribou Cream Maple Syrup

Places to Stay in Lutsen

Eagle Ridge Resort at Lutsen

Studios and condos on-site at Lutsen Mountains. Great mountain views. Ski-in/ski-out, walk to Alpine Slide, Summit Express Gondola, and Papa Charlie’s restaurant. Year-round outdoor pool and hot tubs. Complimentary activities during summer. Groups and weddings.

Caribou Highlands Lodge

Located on Lutsen Mountains. Lodge rooms, condos, townhomes, luxury homes. Great mountain views. Ski-in/ski-out. Complimentary family programs in summer. Moguls Tap Room and Grill onsite. Massage therapy spa. Access to hiking trails.

Tofte Trails

Five upscale cabin rentals with old wood charm and stunning views nestled on 17 acres above mighty Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake. Tofte Trails is the perfect getaway for couples or a solo retreat for world class outdoor adventures, wellbeing & self discovery.

Solbakken on Superior

Motel rooms, fireplace suites, cabins, and vacation homes – all on Lake Superior’s ledgerock shore. Historic lodge with fireside hang-out area, gift shop, hot tub and sauna. Complimentary canoe, showshoe, and cross country ski rental.

Cascade Lodge

Lodge rooms, cabins, and luxury homes. Located on the edge of Cascade River State Park. Direct access to hiking, skiing, biking, and snowmobile trails. Restaurant. Walk to Cascade River Falls and Lake Superior lakeshore. Eight minutes from Grand Marais.

Thomsonite Beach Inn

Small family-run inn on Lake Superior. Their ledge rock shoreline is imbedded with Thomsonite, a rare Lake Superior gemstone. Standard, deluxe, and fireplace suites. Lake views, and garden views. Thomsonite jewelry and gem shop featuring handmade thomsonite jewelry. Minutes from Grand Marais.