Day trip ideas from Crane Lake, Kabetogama, and surrounding areas
Northern Minnesota is home to amazing outdoor adventures all year round. In the winter, ice fishing and snowmobiling take center stage, as literally thousands of lakes and groomed trails surround you at all times. You have so many opportunities, in fact, that the biggest challenge can be finding the ones that suit you best. Not a bad problem to have, all things considered.
Our trails range from wide-open lake running to winding safety portages connecting the lakes, and from twisting wilderness routes to abandoned railroad grades. You will also have the opportunity to explore the frozen lake surface off the groomed trails, where you will usually experience our region’s unrivaled powder riding.
CHECK LOCAL TRAIL CONDITION REPORTS
For those newer to exploring our local trails, it’s helpful to know that we have several trail clubs – in addition to the National Park Service – that help maintain our extensive trail system. We highly recommend checking with one or more of these trail club and DNR websites for current trail condition reports.
- Ash River/Kabetogama Snowdrifters
- International Voyageurs Snowmobile Club
- Voyageur Trail Society & Crane Lake Visitor Bureau
- MN DNR Arrowhead Trail Conditions
SNOWMOBILE DAY TRIP ROUTES IN NORTHERN MINNESOTA
OK, without further ado, let’s talk trails! We’ll start with the facts. Here are a few things you already know about Kabetogama:
- Kabetogama is centrally located & the gateway to Voyageurs National Park. In fact, did you know that Kabetogama is the only lake fully within the park?
- Voyageurs National Park has some of this country’s very best snowmobiling.
- Snowmobilers love a good day trip on their sleds.
And a couple of things you may not have known:
- Wherever you call home while you’re here, options for day trips in, on, around and between Kabetogama Lake, Crane Lake, Voyageurs National Park and the breathtakingly beautiful surrounding areas are as plentiful as they are exhilarating.
- The good folks of the Kabetogama Lake Resorts are proud to be your MN snowmobiling ambassadors!
To fully appreciate snowmobiling in Minnesota, you simply must experience the Arrowhead Trail. Entirely outside of Voyageurs National Park with easy access to both Kabetogama lake and Crane lake areas, this roughly 75-mile journey from International Falls to Cook winds through dense forests, up and over rolling hills, and across dozens of streams and lakes. Don’t worry: there are many shelters and pit stops along the way, so whether you’re doing the whole thing or just certain stretches of the trail, you’re in for a truly wild – and relaxing, if you so desire – ride.
If you’re looking for our favorite short ride inside of Voyageurs, we highly recommend the 13.2-mile Chain of Lakes Trail, where certain stretches are not much wider than the sled you’re driving. If you crave the excitement of tree branches brushing up against you as you weave through the woods, this ride is for you. Plan on doing this one a few times, as the wildlife you’ll see along the way is different every time!
Of course, our favorite long trail ride inside the park is Voyageur Trail that winds its way south to scenic Crane Lake. This loop of 50+ miles allows you to traverse Namakan Lake in one direction and follow the Ash River Trail in the other. With plenty of sheltered stops along the way, including resorts on Crane Lake and the Ash River at the loop’s two halfway points, the Voyageur Trail is ideal for sledders of all skill levels and groups of all sizes.
If you’re staying at one of our Kabetogama Lake Resorts and want to stay close to home, you have plenty of options. From the Peterson Bay Trail to Woody’s Trail, and from 3K Trail to Kab West, our Kab resorts are surrounded with excellent options. And if you’re willing to stray a bit further, we love the 5-mile Scenic Family Loop, as well as slightly longer Rainy Lake and Kettle Falls trails. The point is, you have so many nearby options!
And the best part of all these trails? Minnesota snowmobile trail conditions are always carefully monitored by expert groomers concerned with ensuring your safety and enjoyment. It’s why Minnesota offers the very best snowmobiling experience imaginable. Please note: Kabetogama Lake Association assumes no liability for the trails maintained by the MN DNR or any of the clubs mentioned.
VISIT KABETOGAMA RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Now, let’s talk about pit stops… for some riders, pit stops are the very best part of an all-day snowmobiling adventure. They offer a chance for food, fuel, fun, and meeting new people. Below are a few of our favorites, starting with several highly recommended locations on Kabetogama Lake.
Each of our Kabetogama restaurants are easily accessible from the Green Lake Trail and most offer fuel too!
Right in our backyard is The Rocky Ledge, a conveniently located restaurant, with a full bar and a pool table. Their homemade reubens & pizzas are considered by many to be the best in the woods, featuring secret recipes and full lunch & dinner menu, they’ll be happy to serve up their special whiskey with ice croutons. Open everyday at 11:00 until the fun stops (except closed on Wednesdays).
Another excellent stop is Kec’s Kove Resort, where the main lodge features a wood-burning fireplace, recreation room with sauna and hot tub, a full bar and dining room. Stop in for a cup of hot chocolate and a fresh-off-the-grill burger. Or grab a hot toddy and a steak. Or a tap beer and walleye sandwich. Whatever you like to eat or drink, Kec’s is a perfect pit stop. Oh, and they have fuel, too! Winter hours: Open Thursday through Sunday 9am to 10pm. We recommend a reservation for breakfast meals.
A local favorite, look for the big red lodge off the lake trail and you’ve arrived at Arrowhead Lodge & Resort. Their menu is standard pub fare featuring more unique items you won’t find anywhere else. If you like your burgers stacked high, Arrowhead is for you. Their dinner specials often sell out, so we recommend you call ahead for a reservation. Enjoy their craft cocktail menu with local beers and local flavors. The historic log lodge features a bar and dining room with a fireplace where you can enjoy it all with a view of the lake. Stop by for premium fuel too! Winter hours: Open daily 11am to 11pm.
We also recommend Sandy Point Lodge & Resort – especially if you’re looking for a breakfast pit stop. Hit the trails at dawn, put a few hours of trail riding behind you and pull up to Sandy Point for a full breakfast on weekends and a bloody mary! Any day of the week, stop for fuel, lunch or dinner. Warm up by the fire at the lodge and savor the lake views. Winter hours: Monday through Thursday 12pm – 9pm and weekends Friday through Sunday 8am – 10pm.
If you just want the quick convenience of a general store, we have that too! Check out Gateway General in Kabetogama for fuel, specialty coffees, sandwiches, snacks, off-sale liquor, gifts, and even live bait.
Stop for a photo opportunity at the Kabetogama Walleye statue across the street from the Gateway General & Cennex gas station on highway 53.
EXPLORE SURROUNDING VOYAGEURS AREA SNOWMOBILE TRAILS
Let’s leave Kabetogama and head south for a few additional spots we can recommend. Checkout pit stops in the Ash River Area, Orr, MN, and pause for fuel and panoramic views of Crane Lake – a perfect place to relax after a few hours on the trails.
To the north, don’t miss Boondocks Bar & Grill in Ray, MN or spots on Rainy Lake like the Thunderbird Lodge to fuel up & warm up with your favorite beverage and a bite to eat.
Well, that’s it for now. Honestly, we could have included every single Northern Minnesota snowmobile trail in this blog since we are connected, as well as any of a hundred different pit stops that offer warmth, rest, food, drink and entertainment. If you want world-class snowmobiling and pit stopping, come to Kabetogama Lake, the gateway to Voyageurs National Park. We’ll see you on the trails!
Ready to explore Kabetogama as a home base for your winter snowmobile trip? Checkout the local Kabetogama resorts that are open and ready to host you for a wonderful winter vacation. To see the different lodging properties in the Kabetogama area visit our Lakeside Resorts Page. You can book direct to many properties by sorting the amenities that fit you the best. Our area offers a wide variety of cozy winter lodging options, abundance of outdoor recreation, and fun places to eat and drink. Download our Visitor Guide or check out our detailed trail map to start planning now!