When Travel’s annual ski issue rolls around, I’m always excited. It means that winter is starting to take hold. Yes, it’s cold. Don’t doubt your body’s ability to counteract that with a little flexing of muscles (and proper gear). We’re fortunate because there are so many ways to get active outside during winter ­— and Minnesotans embrace them all.

Snowshoeing is a good option for people who want to get into the woods without clicking into skis. Snowshoes are disk-shaped devices that look like the head of a tennis racket with teeth below to grab onto icy patches. They strap onto any winter boot, and many state parks offer them for rent.

Skijoring is coming on strong. The sport involves cross-country skiing with your dog in the lead. You wear skis; your dog wears a harness attached to you. Perhaps its Norwegian roots help explain the growing popularity in this Nordic-influenced land. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, “the word comes from the Norwegian Skikjoring: ski + Kjoring (driving).” Several state parks, including Itasca, offer trails specifically for the sport.

Fat bikes, with their wide tires designed to handle snow and ice, are cutting paths around metro area lakes and roads. Those who want to take them into the woods could head to a number of places, including the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, near Crosby and Ironton. The area that was once a pit mine offers winter trails for fat bikes.

For details on trails and rentals for winter fun in state parks, go to the DNR’s winter guide at www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/winter_guide/index.html.

Information on downhill and cross-country ski spots around the state is on G5.


Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.