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Location

  • Cook County includes the communities of Schroeder, Tofte, Lutsen, Grand Marais, Hovland and Grand Portage up to the Canadian border. Cook County runs 80 miles along the scenic shore of Lake Superior and into the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness via the Sawbill Trail, Caribou Trail, Gunflint Trail, and Arrowhead Trail.  Cook County contains many state parks; miles of hiking and groomed cross country trails; and the Lutsen Mountains Ski Area.
  • Cook County is located in northeastern Minnesota, just 90 miles from Duluth and 200 miles from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The Great Outdoors

  • Cook County sits on the shores of Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes in surface area and volume. All the other Great Lakes plus three more the size of Lake Erie could fit inside Lake Superior. It is particularly known for its clear, cold water, agate beaches and scenic beauty.
  • Named one of the top 50 places to visit before you die by National Geographic, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) offers more than a million acres of woods and water untouched and unaffected since the glaciers melted and created over a thousand crystal-clear lakes. On the boundary between Minnesota and Canada, the BWCAW is neighbor to Quetico Park, and together the two create the largest canoe wilderness in the world. As part of the Superior National Forest, the BWCAW welcomes more than 200,000 visitors each year.
  • The Superior Hiking Trail is a 277-mile footpath that largely follows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior on Minnesota’s North Shore from Duluth to the Canadian border. Maintained by the Superior Hiking Trail Association, the trail is ideal for both day hikes and backpack camping.
  • Two of eight scenic byways in Minnesota pass throughout Cook County, including the stunning North Shore Scenic Drive along Lake Superior, and the wild and remote Gunflint Trail, which winds through boreal forest and past glacial lakes to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Each of these unique Byways is a treasure among the nation’s scenic routes. The North Shore Scenic Drive is designated as an All-American Road, the only byway in the upper Midwest with this honor.
  • Sawtooth Mountains Range has the highest mountains and peak in the state, with Eagle Mountain standing at 2,301 feet above sea level.
  • With 1,500 miles of canoe routes, nearly 2,200 designated campsites, and more than 1,000 lakes and streams waiting, the BWCAW and surrounding areas are filled with recreational opportunities.

Activities

  • Summer activities include biking, camping, canoeing/kayaking, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing and golfing.
  • The fall brings incredible foliage to enjoy during an autumn hike, canoe or road trip, plus hunting, live music and festivals.
  • North woods winters are ideally suited to winter sports such as cross-country and downhill skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice fishing, skating and dog sledding. With ten feet of snow each year, winter activities in Cook County, Minnesota, are the best of what makes winter, winter.
    • The largest groomed cross-country trail system in North America at 400 km
    • The Midwest’s Largest Ski Resort, with 1,000 feet of vertical and 92 runs of Alpine skiing
    • 446 Miles of groomed snowmobile trails through Minnesota’s wildest wilderness

Arts & Entertainment

  • Cook County is a collaborative community that inspires creativity and provides opportunities to learn – and nurture the soul – through one-of-a-kind hands-on experiences. The art here is real and accessible, with institutions such as North House Folk School and the Grand Marais Art Colony- the oldest art colony in Minnesota- creating opportunities for aspiring or accomplished artists to learn, to be inspired, or in many cases, to find vocation. Art galleries in Lutsen, Grand Marais, and Grand Portage showcase the talent of the many artists who call Cook County home.
  • Cook County is filled with hidden food gems- from Chez Jude and Angry Trout, to gourmet s’mores and seasonal specialties, there’s surely a plate or experience to satisfy every palate.
  • Cook County entertainment ranges from the delightful performances produced by the Grand Marais Playhouse to the wealth of local musicians performing in intimate venues to major concert attractions at Lutsen Mountains during the winter months.

History

  • The county was officially organized in 1883, but written history goes back to early 1700s. Native American history extends back to prehistoric times.
  • Cook County has preserved and maintained its connection to and appreciation for its past. Its rich history offers tremendous opportunities to learn about and experience the past that has made Cook County what it is in the present. In addition to places of historical importance such as Sugar Loaf Cove, Cross River Heritage Center, North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum, Cook County Historical Society, Chik Wauk Museum and Grand Portage National Monument, some of the people who actually created our history are still alive and engaged in the community, sharing and teaching the history via talks, presentations and special events.
  • The Cook County Historical Society maintains four separate locations. The museum in Grand Marais is located in the Lighthouse Keeper’s House on the National Registry of Historic Places. The Johnson Heritage Post is a gallery of rotating local and regional art. The building is styled after the original trading post built in the early 1900s by Charlie and Anna Johnson. Cook County Historical Society also operates St. Francis Xavier Chippewa City Mission Church, a 1930’s fish house replica and the fishing tug Neegee.
  • 5,400 residents live in Cook County, with logging and tourism making up the major industries.
  • Visitors to the county include families with children, couples in search of romance or relaxation, Lake Superior enthusiasts, outdoor lovers, adventurer seekers, wildlife lovers, nature lovers, sportsmen and women, and “Green” travelers – those more aware of environmental issues and more protective of natural environment.