Where to go for a dog-sledding getaway?We're looking for an up-north dogsledding opportunity. A little ride through the woods, some mushing, maybe a winter picnic. Our winter sports are snowshoeing and ice skating, not skiing or ice fishing or snowmobiling. Otherwise, we'd like a fireplace to sit in front of, and good food. Any suggestions? - Karen, Minneapolis
It sounds as if you're describing Paul Schurke's Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge in Ely. It's well-known for its food; its French-born chef is a certified Master Chef who once ran a restaurant in Ely, and I can testify that his food is superb. The lodge offers many types of trips and knows how to take care of all kinds of clients.
One of the lodgings it uses is the cozy Blue Heron B&B in Ely, where I was staying once when a Wintergreen group stopped there. They all seemed very happy with the trip. Some were fit and some weren't so fit, and the guides let them mush their own teams or just ride if they wanted.
Of course, there's also good snowshoeing around Ely (a classic trip would be to the Hegman Lake pictographs), plus shopping and restaurants. You might want to schedule a trip to coincide with its Winter Festival, Feb. 4-14. For more, see Playtime in Ely.
On the Gunflint Trail, Bearskin Lodge offers meals catered by Chez Jude in Grand Marais, which is excellent, and dog-sledding trips into the BWCAW. The lodge has a fireplace and an adjoining Hot Tub Hus. There's lots going on all along the Gunflint Trail during the Winter Tracks festival, Feb. 25-28. For more, see The best days of winter.
If you want to stay in Grand Marais, you can drive up to Hovland and take a half-day trip into Superior National Forest with Arleigh Jorgenson's Sled Dog Adventures. We had a blast on the full-day trip, which included a noontime picnic, as most mushing trips do. For more, see Dog days of winter. And if you want to snowshoe, the canyon of the nearby Devil Track River would be ideal.
You could also mush out of Bayfield, Wis., with Wolfsong Adventures, which offers trips of various durations. There are plenty of good places to stay and eat in the area. For more, see Bayfield in winter.
Reserve now for holiday trips. There's plenty of snow from January into April. If you really like picnics, March may be the best bet; it's warmer and sunnier.