Best Places to Snowmobile in Minnesota

The snowmobiling season in Minnesota is long, grey, and cold. And while that might sound like a dark winter to some people, it opens up many different opportunities to ride. 

I’m Chaz, a snowmobile enthusiast who has ridden on trails throughout North America. I’ve had the chance to visit Minnesota several times, and I talked with a few friends who live there to find out their favorite places to ride. 

In this post, I’ll show you some of the best places to snowmobile in Minnesota. The Land of 10,000 Lakes has plenty of room to trail ride and explore. 

Time to get bundled up and out in the snow.

1. North Shore State Trail

The C.J. Ramstad/North Shore State Trail is one of the top spots to ride in Minnesota. The trail stretches for almost 150 miles in the northeastern section of the state and winds its way through various unique winter terrain. 

This specific trail runs from Duluth to Grand Marais, but in between the two towns, you will find some stunning country and vast expanses easily accessed from your sled. From forests to lakes to meadows, it’s easy to appreciate all of Minnesota when your ride here. 

You’ll also get expansive views of Lake Superior and a taste of what the backcountry feels like in the northern reaches of the midwestern US. There aren’t many towns or roads near this trail, making it feel very remote with wilderness all around. 

The North Shore Trail connects with other networks of trails in northern Minnesota, but most of it is rugged and remote. You need to be well prepared and ready for anything if you ride here, but it is a fantastic place to experience all-around. 

2. Superior National Forest 

Another northern gem for snowmobiling in Minnesota, Superior National Forest, has around 700 miles of trails to zip around. The trail system is well marked and easily navigable while still providing pristine experiences away from crowds. 

You can explore the shores of Lake Superior or stay surrounded by forest here. I recommend doing a little bit of both. Either way, you’re in for a great day of riding, no matter which trail you choose to venture out on. 

One of the first times I ever saw the Northern Lights was riding here in January. It was one of the coldest nights I can remember, but well worth it to catch a glimpse of that natural spectacle that lights up the night like a lava lamp. 

The town of Ely is a good base camp for exploring Superior National Forest and has several winter resorts that cater to snowmobilers. You can access many trails right from town and find good food here as well. 

3. Willard Munger Trail

For an easily accessible trail ride not far from the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Willard Munger Trail is worth a visit. This is a very popular paved trail in the summer but makes for a solid snowmobiling experience in the winter. 

Within an hour’s drive from the city, you can access the 70 miles of trail found here. It’s a well-kept trail that several local snowmobile clubs maintain. You can expect groomed conditions and a well-marked ride. 

There are food options and fuel along the trail, so you can cruise all day long without much worry. It’s not a backcountry wilderness experience but is a good way to get out of the city and on your sled for the day. 

Willard Munger is also a great place for beginners to learn the basics of snowmobiling. It has primarily flat and open terrain, which won’t push any limits and allow you to go as fast or slow as you’d like. 

4. Big Sandy Lake/Aitkin County

Big Sandy Lake is another one of the best places to snowmobile in Minnesota. Big Sandy gets the credit, but there are many other lakes and open tracts of land to explore in and around Aitkin County. 

You’ll find over 600 miles of groomed trails here and a lot of varied terrains that go in and through wooded areas, meadows, lakes, and a few rolling hills. These groomed trails will lead you to a network of other options that open up around 1,500 miles of other trails. 

Big Sandy Lake makes for a great winter vacation destination for snowmobilers. There are a few resorts to stay at when visiting the area, with the most well-known being Big Sandy Lodge & Resort. You can rent a sled and access the many trails right out the front door of the lodge. 

I like Aitkin County for its easily accessible trails that span a large area and offer many different types of riding. You can find a little bit of everything here, and that can keep you busy for days on end. Here’s a trail map of Aitkin County

5. Soo Line South Trail

This spot makes the list because the scenery is stunning, and the snow is typically abundant. Soo Line South Trail begins on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin in Saunders Junction and stretches to Royalton. 

This ends up being 126 miles of trail to ride and will allow you to take in the countryside while you traverse. From deep woods to large farms to river crossings, this trail is full of fun and adventure. 

Soo Line South also has several towns and pit stops along the way to stop for the night or get a warm meal. The area caters to snowmobilers in the winter and makes for a fun family trip. This trail can get a little crowded on weekends but is still worth visiting. 

Soo Line South Trail Map courtesy of Shire In the Woods

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of snowmobiling trails and backcountry options in Minnesota. This list represents five of the best places to ride when you visit here, but there are many other options out there. 

The winter months can get extremely cold here, so always be well prepared. A good day on the trail is quickly ruined if you get frostbite or hypothermia. 

Do you know of a great spot to ride in Minnesota that’s not on this list? Let us know in the comments below!    

About Chaz Wyland
I’m a snowmobile fanatic. I live for riding and am out on the trails or backcountry as often as possible during the winter months. I was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains and have snowmobiled in dozens of North American locations. When the snow is falling, you’ll find me on a sled.

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  • Scott

    Nice article. I’m new to Minnesota and snowmobile. I’m learning a lot about both