Snowshoeing With the SHTA – 2019

Snowshoeing With the SHTA – 2019

Snowshoeing is a fun way to explore the winter and is even sort of a team sport. It is fun to do with others because of the company and because the more people who have walked the same path as you the easier it is. The Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA) offers free guided hikes year-round. January through March they lead people down the trails on snowshoes. This is a fun way to get introduced to or return to snowshoeing with knowledgeable people, while spreading out some of the trail breaking work.

“How they work is they are open to the public,” said Jo Swanson, Director of Trail Development at the SHTA. “They normally start at 10 in the morning on a Saturday. Each hike has a hike leader. In the winter they are snowshoe hikes. Sometimes there isn’t enough snow.  So we have to be a little flexible.”

The one thing they require on these hikes is that you bring your own snowshoes and you know how to put them on. If you’re a guest a Larsmont you’re welcome to use a set of ours for free!

These hikes start at different Superior Hiking trailheads. This winter three are planned. They will start at the Normanna Road Trailhead, the Fors Road, and the Oberg Mountain trailheads. There is usually some trail breaking involved, though the tracks show that many people are out snowshoeing on this trail during the winter. The snow also makes it easier to see where other creatures have been.

Snowshoe hare tracks

“What is really fun is to see the animal tracks,” said Jo. “We know that there are snowshoe hares out there but we don’t usually see proof of them. So, in the winter we can see what animals have been there.”

Snowshoeing isn’t fast but allows you to enjoy the backwoods with minimal disruption. This means there is a better chance nature won’t notice you.

“You are quiet out there,” said Jo. “So there is a pretty good chance you will see wildlife more than with some of the other winter sports.”

Even if you see no animals, you still have the scenery. This is rugged country that is densely populated with trees, rocky outcroppings, hills, and ravines. When it is covered with snow it becomes even more magical. There are large sections of smooth snow and places where assorted ice shapes cling to rock faces.  The first hike of this year is a particularly scenic one.

“Our January hike goes from Normanna Road Trailhead to Heron Pond Camp and back,” said Jo. “That is a very pretty area, with some really nice ponds. And the campsites are really gorgeous. That is just a really good snowshoe hike.”

Their guided Gooseberry Falls hike is another great one, with trails that are specifically designed for snowshoeing. Since Gooseberry also has a lot of ski trails, this is a good place to remind you that is important to never snowshoe on groomed ski trails.

The SHTA also recommends snowshoeing the Superior Hiking Trail on your own. Just be aware that not all of the trailheads are plowed during the winter. The SHTA website has complete listings of which trailheads get plowed and which ones do not.

If you want to go out on your own, you don’t even need an official trail to go on. This will increase the work but diminish as you bring more people along. You could really snowshoe anywhere that is public land that has gotten enough snow. Jo recommends a section a little outside of Two Harbors.

“The Lake County Demonstration Forest would be a good call,” said Jo.

If you are staying at Larsmont Cottages you are close to a number of places where you can try out some snowshoes.  If you didn’t bring any, Larsmont Cottages can loan you a pair.


Photo credits

Snowshoes by Daisuke tashiro licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Snowshoe Hare Tracks by Jim Kravitz licensed under CC-BY 2.0

North Shore Spring Break Pro-Tip #1: Relax

North Shore Spring Break Pro-Tip #1:

School is stressful. Whether you’re a teacher, the parent of a student, or a faculty member – relaxation should be priority number 1 this Spring Break.

And believe us, we know how to relax. Enjoy our guide to the most relaxing North Shore Spring Break possible.

Be one with the North Shore’s natural beauty

Breathe the crisp winter air, listen to Lake Superior’s waves lapping and ice heaving, Watch the sun move slowly across the sky. You don’t have to be anywhere.

Scenic, Nature-Filled Winter Hikes

Borrow our snowshoes and hit the trails.

  • Gooseberry Falls See the map
    • Gitchi Gummi Hiking Trail
      Grab your snowshoes and experience incredible views of the Gooseberry River Valley and Lake Superior.
    • Fifth Falls Trail
      Travel this rugged path up the river to the Fifth Falls and back. Stop to look for caves or view CCC features.
  • Split Rock Lighthouse See the map

Sauna Time

Finnish Sauna

The health benefits of saunas are becoming more clear each year. Just take a look at this Time Article from August 2018 on the subject.

  • Saunas may be good for your mood
  • Saunas may improve vascular health
  • Saunas can improve respiratory function
  • Saunas promote pain relief

You won’t find a better sauna on the North Shore than our authentic Finnish sauna right on the water’s edge. Don’t take our word for it, though. Read this Sauna Times review for a great impression of what to expect.

Treat Yourself to a Massage

Larsmont’s newly remodeled Massage Cottage is the pinnacle of relaxation. Let our talented masseurs soothe away your stress and worries.

Learn more about our massage services >

Book Your Spring Break

Spring Break Getaway

  • Stay 3 nights: Get 20% OFF Lodging 
  • Stay 4 nights: Get 30% OFF Lodging 
  • Stay 5+ nights: Get 40% OFF Lodging

Valid 7 days a week March 1 – April 30, 2019. See complete details and restrictions.

Book Your Spring Break

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Full Activity Calendar

4 Snowshoe Spots Worth Exploring


There is a sense of peacefulness to being outdoors in winter. Soft snow casts its hush over the woods so that you can hear your own breath. All is still, except for the occasional rabbit darting by or bird wheeling overhead. It’s beautiful and somber all at the same time.

We rent snowshoes free to all our guests, and if you’re not staying with us you can rent them at Ski Hut in Duluth.

Here are a few of our favorite places to go. Please be considerate and don’t snowshoe on cross-country ski trails—it ruins the trails.

Larsmont Cottages

If you’re our guest, you’re already here, and there’s plenty of lakeshores to explore on the greatest of Great Lakes.

In Duluth

Park Point
Park Point, across the Aerial Lift Bridge, is a beautiful, sandy beach in summer, filled with families and dogs. But during the winter, it’s got a feel all its own. The coldest waves create incredible natural ice sculptures along the shore which can vary from looking like sheets of crumbled glass to smoothly carved blue ice.

Lester Park
The frozen river cuts a deep gorge through the park with imposing cliffs and beautiful overhanging tree boughs. A big park surrounded by trees and a golf course provides plenty of room to roam.

On The North Shore

Wolf Rock
The North Shore provides some astonishingly beautiful views, and a great workout if you’re up for it! Climb up Wolf Rock, near Castle Danger just to the north of Larsmont, for a birds-eye view of the snow-covered forest.

Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse State Parks
You will need a park pass for this one, but you’ll also experience a new angle on the falls and the lighthouse. If you’ve seen the park in summer, you already know how beautiful the massive waterfall and impressive lighthouse are, but there’s a whole new flavor to seeing it with a fresh coat of pure winter snow.

Nick's Guide to Snowshoeing at Split Rock Lighthouse

Snowshoeing at Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse is easily my favorite place to snowshoe after a fresh snow, I highly recommend checking it out for yourself!
Nick H., Front Desk Manager

23 Miles North of Larsmont Cottages

What to Bring
Snowshoes, trekking poles are helpful for the bigger hills.

Winter Trail Map

Nick's Guide to Snowshoeing at Split Rock Lighthouse

Date of Hike: January 22, 2019
The morning after an overnight snowstorm.

The scenery at Split Rock Lighthouse was breathtaking after the 7-8 inches of fresh snowfall we received. It was a warm and sunny day, and it was so calm that the lake looked like a giant sheet of glass.

I started my trek by hiking down to the water and basking in the sunlight for about a half hour. Taking in the views of Split Rock Lighthouse, Ellingson Island, and all the snow-covered trees.

From there I hiked into the woods and off the trail to put the snowshoes to the test.

The snow was deep and a bit difficult to move through, but I was rewarded with excellent views of the snow covered forest and of the lighthouse off in the distance. Split Rock Lighthouse is easily my favorite place to snowshoe after a fresh snow, I highly recommend checking it out for yourself!

Trail Difficulty – The trails within the park are VERY well groomed, especially for Cross Country Skiing. However, since I opted to snowshoe for this trip I did not utilize these trails out of respect for the skiers, instead, I hiked both alongside the trails, and just straight through the woods. There are a few big hills here and there, but overall this is very easy terrain to cover, perfect for a day trip!

How Long – I chose to hike about three miles total, which took me about two hours in the new, powdery snow.

Parking – Parking lot near “Little Two Harbors” puts you in the nexus of all the trails throughout the park. The perfect starting point!

Wildlife Viewing – I saw a HUGE pileated woodpecker about halfway through my hike. I also came across a few grouse. I happened across some fox tracks as well, but unfortunately did not see the fox that made them!

The best winter adventures start at Larsmont Cottages

Finnish SaunaAuthentic Finnish Sauna

massage cottageLakeside Massage

The North Shore’s only Chef’s Table

On Site Amenities

Full Sized Indoor Swimming Pool

Four Season Outdoor Whirlpool

Wood-burning sauna at the water’s edge

Ledge Rock Grille Restaurant

Bar, Specialty Coffees & Ice Cream

Larsmont Cottages Gift Shop

Wireless Internet in all accommodations

Guest Computer in Main Lodge

Cozy gathering place with table games

Exercise Room

Lakeside Massage Cottage

Experience the Holidays at Larsmont Cottages

The holiday season is upon us, and we can hardly wait! Just take a look at all of the fun we’ve got in store for you!

Mitten Tree

Bring in a warm scarf, hat or pair of mittens to hang on our Mitten Tree. Warm weather gear will be donated for distribution our North Shore neighbors in need.

Deck the Resort

We’ll be decorating the main lodge and grounds on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. You’re invited to join in the decorating or celebrate the coming season with hot cocoa, hot apple cider and an assortment of cookies at Ledge Rock Grille.
November 24

Christmas Crafts

Check out all of the great family craft activities on our Explore Calendar.
Thanksgiving-New Year’s Day

Ginger Bread House Building & Cookie Decorating

These sweet treats are as fun to make and decorate as they are to eat. We’ll be hosting a variety of tasty activities throughout the season. See our Explore Calendar for details!

Eggnog Cranberry Biscuit Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream

Drink & Dessert Specials at Ledge Rock Grille

Try Chef Simon’s Eggnog Cranberry Biscuit Pudding topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, or the indulgent Heated Affair – spiced cider with a kick.
Thanksgiving-New Year’s Day

A Piece of the Northwoods

Bring home a north-shore grown Christmas tree from a family farm this year.
Abrahamson’s Tree Farm is located at 5933 Howard Gnesen Road, Duluth, MN 55803, which is about a 25-minute drive from Larsmont Cottages. A great stop on the drive home. Telephone Number: 218.391.8963 

A local favorite, Abrahamson’s has been providing Christmas Trees to the North Shore for over 20 years. Start off your journey in the small heated chalet for complimentary hot chocolate and cookies, before you venture out into the woods to find the perfect tree for you and your family.

Holiday Events & Activities

february, 2020

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mitten tree

Larsmont Mitten Tree

mitten tree

May you always have a poem, like a pair of cozy mittens;

Knitted by a friend who loves you.

May your poem hold your hands through the blizzard of your living;
Every word a warm blessing.

Written by a soul you’ll never know but somehow understands.
-Amy LV 


On the Friday following Thanksgiving, we will begin what we hope will become an annual holiday tradition – a Mitten Tree – which will be located in the main lodge building at Larsmont Cottages.  We will be reaching out to the local community, arriving guests, and our owners, to ask for mittens, scarves, hats, socks – any warm and cozies that can benefit those in need in the Two Harbors community.

As you prepare for your next visit, please consider adding items to your bag that can adorn the tree this season, and be of use during this and future winters by someone who needs them.

Best wishes always,

The Staff at Larsmont Cottages








Gooseberry Falls

Summer Fun in Two Harbors - 2018 Edition

Summer Fun in Two Harbors - 2018 Edition

Two Harbors Tours

Ongoing, Unique Summer Tours:

Flavorful Events

Lake County Fair
 August 16th - August 19th | $5 Admission 

Enjoy classic fair fun at this year's Lake County's annual fair. Carnival rides and tasty foods by Lucky Brisket BBQ.

Two Harbors 4th of July
Wednesday, July 4th | Agate Harbor 

Pulled Pork and Pie on the 4th of July!
Pies by the Rustic Inn from 3-10pm, with drinks and pulled pork for dinner from 5-10!
Live music outside the Community Center from 5:30-8:30!

Patriotic Concert in the Thomas Owens Bandshell, 7:30 pm.
Fireworks over the Harbor at dusk.


Music Events

Ongoing, Unique Summer Live Music:

Even More Fun!

Bay Days
July 13th through July 15th | Downtown Silver Bay

Venture to downtown Silver Bay for a bustling event full of activities. Games, food, music, a parade and more creates an entertaining and family-friendly atmosphere, sure to create memories for years to come. Remember: To top the night off Friday, a fireworks display will light up the sky.

Two Harbors Kayak Festival
July 28th | Burlington Bay Beach

Two Harbors—For its 21st year, one of the most unique, family-friendly events returns to the shores of Lake Superior. This paddling festival features races, exhibitions, demos and more. Celebrate and learn about one of the most popular recreational activities throughout the North Shore. But, there’s more to do beyond kayaking. Great games, music, food and more will entertain all who attend at Burlington Bay Beach.

Agate Bay Arts & Crafts Show
June 22nd - June 23rd

Two Harbors—Find a special gift that’s unique to the North Shore. Peruse and shop handcrafted goods and meticulously made wares in the scenic outdoor setting of Two Harbors. Chat with vendors and explore the show!

Annual GGTA North Shore Bike Ride
August 18th @ 9 am | Gooseberry Falls State Park 

The 18th Annual Gitchi-Gami Trail Association North Shore Bike Ride will take place on Saturday, August 18, 2018. The recreational ride will again offer 55-mile, 37-mile, and 28-mile route options, as well as an 8-mile family ride on the trail and connecting roads.

The Secret to Successful Management Retreats

The Secret to Successful Management Retreats

Retreats are a crucial part of your business strategy. Getting away from the office for a couple of days each year allows you to reflect on your big picture goals and clearly see what needs to be done. In an era where work is often done remotely, connecting face to face is powerful. And there’s something about short “sprints” that makes them more productive than an average workweek. Whether you’re launching a new product or planning your next year, a management retreat is an effective way to start.

But what is the secret to a successful retreat?

Informal team building Peter Drucker said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. When you face stress at the office it’s helpful to see your colleagues as human beings. Socializing together and encouraging personal connections will lead to a more effective team in the long run.

This might mean relaxing with a fireplace, wood-fired sauna, yoga classes, massage, or whirlpool. It might be something more adventurous, like kayak lessons, an introduction to dog sledding, or hiking, or a round of disc golf, or skiing nearby. Or it might just be sitting by the bonfire and having s’mores.

But as much as informal team building helps a group coalesce, it’s not the secret to a successful retreat.

Formal team building is where you take team building to the next level. Since the 1960s, scientists have been doing academic research on the effects that challenge courses have on companies. The research finds that this type of activity helps develop self-esteem, team cohesion, confidence, and concentration.

The Larsmont Center for Strategy and Team Development is the only Association for Challenge Course Technology certified course in northern Minnesota. Our leaders will design a program around your group’s needs—whether that’s developing trust, leadership skills, willingness to take risks, or anything else.

But formal team building is just one piece of the puzzle. For a really successful retreat, you need something more.

Food and drink are a must for a good get-together. Breaking bread together at a Hawaiian pig roast or north woods fish boil is great fun, and we also have a private chef’s table for a multi-course dining experience. We’ll put on an interactive cooking activity for your group or just let you enjoy cedar planked salmon or Swedish meatballs with lingonberries at the Ledge Rock Grille. But even though you can have cocktails from our full bar delivered straight to the pool, you haven’t quite found the secret yet.

Good facilities are a big deal. Years after the formal conversations have been forgotten, everyone remembers the view of the lake and the plush accommodations. We have a private meeting room with basic AV equipment and some of the most luxurious lodging on the north shore, with comfortable bedding, sleek hardwood and stone interiors, and amenities like fireplaces and whirlpool tubs.

Of course, you can have team building at a great resort without getting your management retreat goals accomplished. It helps, but the secret is something different.

Nature is a huge part of a north shore experience. It inspires creativity, deep thinking, and surprise connections. Our cottages are nestled in 40 acres of private woods with 1,300 feet of Lake Superior beachfront shoreline. We’re near snowmobile trails, hiking trails, biking trails, and ski trails, along with the waterfalls of Gooseberry Falls State Park.

As much as nature can help a management retreat along, though, it won’t make it successful on its own. So what’s the secret to a good retreat?

So what IS the secret to a successful management retreat?

It’s you! You’re the one who decides where your group will stay, what you’ll eat and drink, and what kind of scenery you’ll surround yourselves with. You are responsible for team building. And the way you approach this will make all the difference.

Let us help you build your team. We’ve handled dozens of retreats and have a designated group sales director who will put every detail together for you. Write to Jennifer at [email protected] or call her at 218-728-8060 extension 104. We’ll get back to you right away with more information on the perfect management retreat.

Bringing Positive Energy to the Outdoors

Bringing Positive Energy to the Outdoors

lars-peo-featurePositive Energy Outdoors is a 501(C) non-profit group, dedicated to encouraging people to expend energy in positive ways. Their efforts keep people moving even in the winter, when nature and people normally slow down. If you are staying at Larsmont Cottages and go on one of their sled dog adventures, you will soon be gliding across vast white vistas while helping others get moving as well.

“All the public programming, whether it is going dog sledding, riding on horse-drawn sleighs, kayaking, or voyageur canoeing, it all supports programming for kids,” said Stephanie Love at Positive Energy Outdoors. “We serve about 1200 kids each year and about half of those come from low-income households. So, they get to do programming for free or at a very reduced cost, because of the public in our programs.”

Meet Val, one of the adorable, hard-working dog sled team members. Get to know all the dogs.
Meet Val, one of the adorable, hard-working
dog sled team members.
Get to know all the dogs.

When I talked with Stephanie over the holidays, she was getting ready to introduce a group to the great north woods, on the favorite vehicle of Jack London.

“Right now we are about to go on our Two-Hour Family Tour,” said Stephanie. “On this tour, we can take a group of up to 6. It is designed for either kids or those who have very young children or those who just want an introductory experience.”

Scientists often talk about “useful” energy, as opposed to energy which is out there but isn’t doing us any good. The tours start with the guests learning how to get the dogs to work together as a team in a way that makes their energy useful to us, by getting the sled moving. Stephanie was getting ready to show this family how this is done.

“They are going to get introduced to the dogs and introduced to the equipment,” said Stephanie. “Then, they will work together and harness the team. Then, they hook the team up to the sled.”

Once groups learn to harness the dog’s energy, they put it to good use. Positive Energy Outdoors has a number of packages and options available from two-hour tours to full-day mushing adventures. They take people through bogs, with tall strands of grass struggling to poke their heads above the deep snow, and the flat expanse of snow above the thick ice on Island Lake. The family taking the tour was not just along for the ride.

“They will take turns driving on a bigger beginner-friendly route,” said Stephanie.

The tours are also great for animal lovers. As much as people talk about smart cars and loving their BMWs, these vehicles can’t really think or return this love. Sled dogs can, and that makes the interactions more fun.

“It takes them about two hours to finish the route,” said Stephanie. “When they finish that, they get to come back and feed the dogs treats and then give the dogs water and then get the dogs back to their houses.”

These dogs work hard to give adults and disadvantaged children a good time out in the woods. As a non-profit organization, Positive Energy Outdoors needs help taking care of their four-legged friends. The group is looking for people to sponsor dogs to keep the working dogs well taken care of and to help the older dogs enjoy their retirement.

Positive Energy Outdoors has many other winter activities like horse-drawn sleighing, snowshoeing, and skijoring. They also have a number of activities in the summer. They are ready whenever you want to expend some positive energy, while being outdoors.

Photo of Val courtesy of Positive Energy Outdoors.

Featured image by Guillaume Baviere licensed under CC-BY 2.0

Larsmont Wine and Cheese Tasting: Savoring the Moment

Larsmont Cheese Tasting

Leisure activities come in two main varieties. Some contain heart-pounding adrenaline-filled moments like riding a roller coaster, kayaking in three foot waves, and going straight down a ski slope. Other activities like watching a sunset, reading a book, or admiring a painting are meant to be savored. “Savor” can be defined in several ways. One of the best definitions comes from Merriam-Webster Online, who say savor means “to enjoy (something) for a long time.” Wine and cheese tasting at Larsmont Cottages is designed to be an experience where you slowly enjoy the smells, textures, and tastes of fine wines and cheeses, while carefully considering the experience.

“It takes about 2 hours,” said Larsmont bartender Tristan Constantine, which as a side note is a pretty good name for a guy who does wine pairings. “It is a great time to stop by the gathering area, spend some time at the bar, spend some time with your friends, and enjoy some great cheeses and pair some great wines with them. Everyone seems to love it.”

The wine and cheese tasting occurs at the bar in the main gathering area. Cheese and crackers are complimentary during the happy hour between three and five. For 15 dollars a person, you can get three different wines paired to go well with the cheeses. Guests can either enjoy Tristan’s pick of wines or one that he helps them pick.

“I usually pick three wines or choose based on a conversation with you,” said Tristan. “It depends on what your preferences are. Then, we can pick it together or you can just pick it off of the wine list as well.”

The wine and cheese enjoying experience is not just about picking the wines and cheeses but also understanding them.  Tristan is happy to be your guide in this area. As an experienced bartender he knows the product and loves talking to guests about it.

“I am not a certified wine connoisseur but I know a lot about wines,” said Tristan. “So, I can definitely pair the cheese with the wine and I can tell a little about the wine and what cheese would go great with it.”

The plate usually consists of three cheeses that normally fit into three categories.

“The chef picks the cheeses every day,” said Tristan. “Usually it is a combination of a sharp cheese, a more mild cheese, and a dry cheese. So we might do a fontina, an aged cheddar, and a brie or a blue cheese. It kind of varies between that. But, we always have about 3 different types of cheeses.”

Some guests may want to bring part of the Larsmont wine and cheese tasting experience home with them. Larsmont can sell you a bottle of that wine you really liked and make you a cheese plate to go.

Once home you can enjoy the wine and cheese and remember your time at the cottages. This would be good on a quiet afternoon when you have the time to savor it.