“Big fluffly flakes are falling right now [in Ely, Minn.],” said Cherie Sonsalla, executive director of the Ely Chamber of Commerce, when we spoke on Thursday. “It’s gorgeous.” (At the time, an ugly wet drizzle descended on the Twin Cities.)

“This is the most beautiful winter I’ve seen in a long time,” said Barbara Young, who was looking out her window nearly 100 miles east of Ely, at the Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B that she runs with her husband, Ted, along the Gunflint Trail.

If you are looking for a snowy scene and want to get out on cross-country skis, snowshoes or a dogsled, head north.

Young described trees arching majestically over the trails, piled with thick, heavy snow.

Most of the trails along the Gunflint at such stalwarts as Bearskin Lodge, Golden Eagle Lodge and Pincushion Mountain are open, groomed and are, basically, pathways to winter wonderlands. The Banadad Ski Trail — which tracks through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, where power equipment is prohibited — remains partly closed. All that snow hugging the trees so beautifully also poses a problem: Some trees can’t withstand the weight of ice from an earlier storm plus the heavy snow, and when they break, they can block trails.

In Ely, conditions are well-suited for dogsledding, snowshoeing and skiing, though not quite enough for snowmobiling.

Bottom line: There is enough snow on the ground for most winter activities — and temperatures hovering in the 20s make outdoor activities a joy.

For lodging and trail information, contact the Ely Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-777-7281 or ely.org, and Visit Cook County at visitcookcounty.com.


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