Although most of Voyageurs National Park trails are maintained throughout the year, becoming snowshoe and cross-country ski attractions during the winter months, Spring is perhaps the best time for a hike through the forest. Delicate, lime-colored leaves are just beginning to appear, pairs of mating geese can be seen – and heard – over nearby lakes, and cool breezes keep temperatures mild.
All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes, drinking water and a map in order to immerse yourself in nature and witness the emergence of a new season. And, with a variety of trails to choose from, hikers can easily find one that suits their individual skill levels, from 20-minute jaunts to hours-long adventures.
Voyageurs is known for its acres of water (84,000) and miles (more than 600) of undeveloped shoreline. But that doesn’t mean you need a boat to explore and enjoy the park, which features close to a dozen land-accessible trails.
In addition to providing varying degrees of difficulty and lengths, park trails also provide the opportunity for people with disabilities to experience Voyageurs’ singular scenery.
Trails with Views
Make time in your trip to the Ask River Visitor Center to enjoy theses little-known gems:
Before you begin a journey on any of the park’s trails, be sure to pick up a map at one of the visitor centers.
Interested in hiking at Voyageurs National Park? Let us know in the comments below!
Where to Catch a Baseball Game
Although Northern Minnesota is usually associated with winter sports like hockey and cross-country skiing, spring is a great time to enjoy baseball and softball games in International Falls, which hosts Little League, junior- and senior-high school and junior college teams.
Rainy River Community College
RRCC offers fans the opportunity to experience the excitement of collegiate sports with both men’s baseball and women’s fast-pitch softball teams. Consistently ranked one of the top teams in their conference, many Voyageurs go on to play at the Division I, II, and III levels.
The baseball/softball season runs from March through May, and with 40-50 games, there’s ample opportunity to see the Voyageurs on their home field during the week and on weekends. For a complete schedule, visit rainyriver.edu/athletics/baseball/ and rainyriver.edu/athletics/softball/.
Falls High School
The FHS Broncos also have baseball and softball programs, including 7th and 8th grade, junior high and varsity teams. Part of the Iron Range conference, the Broncos take on teams from Hibbing, Virginia, Mesabi East, Littlefork, Cherry and others. Games are held throughout the week, usually Tuesday and Thursday, with varsity teams typically competing Friday afternoon. Fields are located behind the high school, and a complete schedule is online at isd361.k12.mn.us/athletics/activities-schedules.
Watch future hall-of-famers as they grow into the game of baseball from May through June or early July at three field locations: Rizzo, Holler Elementary and Kerry Park. A staple of many small towns across the country, the Little League program in International Falls boasts a full roster of kids ranging in age from 4 to 12. Games are played throughout the week, and a schedule is posted online at ifallsll.com.
For History Buffs
Immerse yourself in one of baseball’s golden eras with “Town Ball: The Glory Days of Minnesota Amateur Baseball” by Armand Peterson and Tom Tomashek. The book chronicles the characters of the sport from 1945 to 1960 and includes the International Falls team, the “Mandos,” an acronym for its sponsor, the Minnesota and Ontario Paper Company.
Not only a destination for four-season fun, Rainy Lake is also a great place for the entire family to enjoy. Here are our top family-friendly recommendations:
Voyageurs National Park
The only national park in Minnesota, Voyageurs is more than 40 percent water, which means you’ll want to bring your own boat, rent one, or take a boat tour to fully experience the park’s rocky shores, sand beaches, abundant wildlife and verdant landscape. Reconnect the entire family with nature by hiking the park’s miles of well-marked trails or spend a night (or two) at one of the many well-appointed campgrounds. The park visitor center also offers opportunities for learning, discovering and interacting. Beginning in June and running throughout the summer, it provides programs and excursions, including a boat tour to Kettle Falls, where you can place one foot in the United States and the other in Canada.
One of the park’s most popular and immersive features is the chance to glimpse the life of the fur traders who explored the area more than 250 years ago. The park’s visitor center features wildlife and historical displays, as well as a movie about the Voyageurs. Visitors can also go on a canoe trip that traces the intrepid explorers’ footsteps, complete with paddling in time to traditional songs. Make sure your camera is photo-ready when you get to the visitor center; the giant moose inside is a selfie waiting to happen.
Plan Your Rainy Lake Vacation
Smokey Bear Park
Another can’t-miss photo opp is the 26-foot tall statue of Smokey Bear and his two cubs, located adjacent to the International Falls City Square, at the corner of 3rd Street and 6th Avenue. The statue has been a community focal point since its arrival in 1954. Seasonally, he’s decked out with gigantic accessories such as hats and mittens in the winter and fishing vest and landing net in summer (To learn more about Smokey’s history, visit smokeybear.com). From International Falls, you can ride the Rainy Lake Bike Trail, which runs 12 miles from International Falls to Voyageurs National Park.
Ranier and City Beach
Smokey isn’t the only famous statue in the area. As you travel east from International Falls on Highway 11, the entrance to the community of Ranier is marked by Big Vic, a 25-foot tall Voyageur created by colorful local resident, Vic Davis, in protest to the creation of the national park in 1980. After posing with the imposing figure, head into Ranier to explore the port town’s parks, shops and restaurants. Grab an ice-cream cone at Tara’s Warf, then stroll to the end of the dock, where you can see the Canadian shores of Fort Frances. Don’t miss the easily-accessible Ranier beach, where you can play in the sand and perfect your cannon ball jump off the dock.
Another can’t-miss beach is located just outside Ranier. City Beach boasts a large sandy shore, roped off swim area, lifeguard, volleyball and basketball courts and more. The pavilion is perfect for picnics and can be reserved for larger groups and events.