Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links below, at no cost to you. For more information, read my full disclaimer here.
Crosby is a Town Reborn
Cuyuna Country is one of Minnesota’s three iron ranges and it includes the towns of Crosby, Ironton, Cuyuna, and a handful of small neighboring towns within a few miles from each other. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, this region was booming, but eventually, that industry came to an end, and the Cuyuna iron mines went dormant in the late 1950s. Half a century later, locals and community leaders began reimagining what this area could be.
What were once functioning mine pits are now beautiful lakes. Some mine lakes in this region are 400 or 550 feet deep, making the water clean and crystal clear. And what happened to the large mounds of red dirt that were dug up to excavate the ore? They were turned into miles of mountain biking trails! Additionally, motorboats are not allowed on the mine lakes, making them quiet and a major attraction for scuba divers and kayakers. This region of Minnesota is beautiful with a unique past and it’s only two hours from the Twin Cities!
1. Get Cozy at Cuyuna Cove
The Cuyuna Cove cabins are incredibly cozy and inviting. Kelsey and Chris, the builders and owners, truly thought of everything. The five tiny cabins on the edge of Cuyuna Country State Recreation land are stocked with fire starters, grill seasoning, champagne flutes, and Hygge books. The property is lined with string lights and in fresh snow, it’s absolutely mesmerizing.
Relax from your cabin and take a nap as the sun shines into your room, or enjoy the snowshoes and sauna provided to all guests. This property has easy access to 5,500 acres of Cuyuna Country State Recreation land, 50+ miles of red dirt mountain biking trails, and 15 crystal clear mine lakes. It’s also located just a few blocks from downtown Crosby, which is bustling with gift shops, restaurants, coffee shops, a brewery, and more! Book your stay here.
2. Enjoy the Mountain Biking Trails
As previously mentioned, Cuyuna is well-known for bike trails. With miles of mixed-difficulty single-track trails there’s no shortage of places to explore. During the winter months, these trails are well cared for and groomed.
While there are plenty of places to explore, the Cuyuna State Recreation Area is a great place for first time visitors with miles of trails and several beautiful lookout spots. Paradise Point is a short and easy walk or ride from the parking lot. Paradise Point is a peninsula in a lake and it faces West, making it a great spot to catch the sunset! The other popular spot is Miner’s Point (Cuyuna Lookout). It’s less than a mile up to the lookout point and you’ll get a great view of two lakes. Apparently, when there’s no snow, cars can drive up to the lookout point but it’s more fun to bike.
I rented a bike from Cykel, a locally owned bike shop in downtown Ironton. The employees were so helpful and helped me choose the best bike based on my skills. I used a fat tire bike with metal spikes for extra grip on the fresh powder! They also have snowshoes for rent and other products for sale such as bike shoes, helmets, water bottles, and baseball hats.
3. Learn Crosby’s Important History
Visiting the Milford Mine Memorial Park is important if you want to understand Crosby’s history. In 1924, this location saw the worst mining disaster in Minnesota’s history when a mine shaft collapsed allowing a rush of water and mud to fill an underground network of tunnels. Only seven miners made it out alive, 41 men were trapped and killed. Today there is a beautiful park to walk through and remember those who lost their lives.
Shop some of my favorite winter items
4. Enjoy the Great Restaurants
For a smaller town, there are a handful of great restaurants and coffee shops in downtown Crosby!
- Burritos California, a newly opened spot with Mexican cuisine
- Iron Range Eatery, for quality dinner options like braised pork, salmon and steak
- Mixed Company, for coffee, egg sandwiches and scones
- North Country Cafe, for eggs and sausage, soups and sandwiches
- Red Raven, for soup and sandwiches, they also have a bike shop in the back
5. Relax at Cuyuna Brewery
The Cuyuna Brewery is in the heart of Crosby on Main Street. The space is open, bright and inviting, and it’s actually the building where it all began. The brewery is located inside the historic Young Building, which was once George Crosby’s office (George Crosby founded the town Crosby, and discovered the Hawkins, LaRue and Crosby mines). If you look behind the bar you’ll see the building’s original vault door.
I always love trying flights so I can sample a variety of beers. I had the Beaches and Cream Ale, Dunkenweizen, Silver Dollar Lager, and a Belgian Blonde, which was my favorite. There are also some snacks for sale and gift items like t-shirts and sweatshirts. It’s definitely a great place to relax after a long day of hiking or biking.
6. Sip Cocktails at Hard Water Lounge
Hard Water Lounge is a new spot, just a couple of years old and it already has a reputation for serving excellent cocktails. This upscale, lounge style bar has a dark, yet cozy and inviting atmosphere with a massive custom built shelf, and a large selection of whiskeys, and bourbons. And if you don’t see something you like on the menu, the bartenders will create something custom for your tastebuds.
7. Find Artisanal Treats at Victual
Victual is a great artisanal spot in town where you can find everything you need to make your own charcuterie board. With jams, jellies, cheese, pickles, crackers, cookies, cocktail mixers and wine, you can find a lot of tasty treats here. I loaded up on snacks and made a charcuterie board back at my cabin for dinner one night.
Additionally, Victual has a lot of really nice locally made gift items like cutting boards, coffee mugs and books. And in the summer time, the line for their lactose-free full dairy ice cream, which is made on site with clean ingredients, wraps around the building and down the street! Be sure to grab a cone while you’re there.
8. Visit the Unique Shops
There are a handful of great shops in town as well as several antiques shops. You’ll want to visit:
- Cranberries on Main, for candles, clothing, beauty supplies and gift items
- Gifts Galore, for local homemade items like woodwork, knitting and jewelry
- Red Threads, for cute sweaters, hats and bags
- Several Antique Shops, for unique finds like giant stoneware from Red Wing
9. Enjoy Winter Activities
While Cuyuna is well-known for biking, there are many other ways to enjoy winter if biking isn’t your thing. There are miles of trails to explore and dozens of frozen lakes to wander across.
- Hike at Crow Wing State Park or Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. Be sure you aren’t hiking on trails groomed for bike use only.
- Icefish for trout, crappie, bass, or sunfish.
- Snowshoe or cross-country ski across many miles of groomed trails. Be sure to pack your own snowshoes, or if you’re staying at Cuyuna Cove, snowshoes are provided so you can explore their property.
- Snowmobile across the hundreds of miles of groomed snowmobiling trails.
Enjoy Your Winter Getaway to Crosby
There’s so much to explore in Crosby, Minnesota and the surrounding region. Whether you want to bike, snowshoe and hike, or visit a brewery, shop and relax at the sauna, there’s something for everyone. For a ton more information on winter and summer activities for cyclists and non-cyclists, visit Cuyuna.com and head to the “Adventure” tab. It’s also a great resource for additional places to eat, drink, rent gear and more!
Looking for more Minnesota winter inspiration? Check out my blog posts on 11 winter things to do in Mankato, and the 5 best winter destinations in Minnesota. And if you’re looking for warm, winter outdoor gear and clothing, I recommend checking out Merrell for boots and REI for warm coats, hats, and gloves. I also love my super warm Rumpl blanket. Happy adventuring!