Top Things to do in Brainerd During the Winter

Don’t think that just because we are the “Lakes Area” that things get quiet around here once the water freezes and the snow falls. In Brainerd, Minnesota, there are just as many things to do during the winter. Now that we finally have snow again, it’s a great time to review the top winter activities you don’t want to miss Up North.

There are a variety of winter activities that you can enjoy right in Brainerd Lakes area. Whether you are looking for indoor or outdoor activities, we have options everyone will love. When it comes to outdoor entertainment during our cold winter, dress warm because our area offers everything from downhill skiing and tubing, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, winter mountain biking to ice fishing. Of course, if you would rather stay out of the cold, there are also three indoor waterparks and a variety of fine boutique shopping  experiences available in the area.

Skiing and Tubing

The Brainerd Lakes Area has two excellent locations for downhill skiing, tubing and snowboarding. The first option is Mount Ski Gul, which offers excellent downhill skiing, tubing and snowboarding in the heart of the scenic Brainerd Lakes area, only a few miles north of our lodging options. Their tubing hill is considered Minnesota’s largest at over 1200 feet. Snowboarders can enjoy an 800-foot dedicated terrain park with an ever-changing jumps, rails and more. You can also enjoy downhill skiing on runs created for skiers of all skill levels. If you’re looking just for snow tubing, head on over to Primetime in Breezy Point. Just a short drive from Brainerd, you can enjoy great dining and an excellent family fun experience not far from our great Brainerd and Baxter hotels and indoor water parks.

 Cross-country skiing

 If downhill skiing  and tubing aren’t your speed, visit our top Minnesota cross country ski trails. We’ve included the top four ski trails in our area Keep an eye on the list details, as some trails do not require ski passes while others do. Visit their directory page to learn more about each location:

Larson Lake Ski Trail - Ski pass required
Trails go through a predominantly oak forest with large red and white pines also present in several areas. Many trail segments encircle Tamarack and lack spruce bogs. Rolling hill terrain with intermediate skiing ability suggested. 6.2 miles of trail

Wolf Lake Ski Trail- Ski pass not required
Located just ten miles from Brainerd this level to hilly terrain winds through a mixture of hardwoods and mature pine.

Northland Arboretum Ski Trails

Nice winding trails, the Arboretum trails are rated beginner to moderate and are located right in Brainerd. Nearly 5k of the trails are lighted for night skiing. MN ski pass required and a $3.00 parking donation to the Arboretum is requested.

French Rapids Ski Trail - Ski pass required
Offering incredible climbs and descents with stunning views of the Mississippi River. Mainly expert trails.


A favorite in the area is snowmobiling. Our area has over 1200 miles of groomed trails to explore. We guarantee a beautiful snow glistening trail through our beautiful forests. Ride across gentle slopes and around the lakes, no doubt making this destination your favorite snowmobiling spot.

Along the trails, you’ll find plenty of service stations for gas, food, hot coffee, cocoa, food and supplies. You can also stop in many of the talents for hot meal and great shopping. Since many of the groomed trails are connected, you can stay at a centrally located Brainerd lakes hotel, easily accessing trail after trail. Your dream snowmobiling vacation can continue for days. Of course, if you need a snowmobile visit our friends at Boats & Beyond Rental and they will get you up and running with your snowmobile rental. Visit our snowmobiling page for more information.

Winter Mountain Biking

The Cuyuna Lakes Area offers mountain bikers specially groomed mountain bike trails, like the Sagamore Unit, a seven and a half mile stretch of winter mountain bike trail. This trail is groomed by snowmobile and a Rokon two-wheel drive motorcycle with wide tires designed to pack a track. The well-groomed trails and recent mountain bike innovations make mountain biking a sport that all skill levels can enjoy year round.

These scenic winter mountain bike trails follow old mining haul roads, railroad grades as well as a few connections cut through the brush. There are six, with relatively flat trails on top and below, and circles winding to the top. Like the summer trails, you’ll be challenged while getting to the top, but rewarded with a nice ride coming down. The trails have fun names with historic links to the mine like the Syracuse, Klondike and Blaster. Buffalo Run Trail refers to a buffalo skeleton found in the park and Copper Nugget refers to an 1,800 lb. copper nugget found on the sight.

Ice Fishing

Most fishermen anxiously await the season change and carefully measure the lakes (likely every single day) until they have a safe amount of ice. Ice fishing or dark house spearing is easily one of our favorite activities here in the Brainerd Lakes Area.

With over four hundred lakes and rivers within twenty-five miles, you are sure to find a memorable ice fishing experience catching your desired species. We have lakes that offer Trout, Walleye, Northern Pike, panfish, Bass, and more.  Explore one of our small, quiet lakes for big pike and panfish or waleyes on Round Lake, North Long Lake, or Gull Lake just to name a few.

If you do not have your own equipment fish house rentals are available with all of the gear and bait you need for a great winter Minnesota Fishing getaway. Or if you prefer there are many great local fishing guides available to take you and your group out to the ice and put you on fish. You can even take a break from the fishing action and enjoy lakeside dining on Gull Lake.

So, tell us, what is your favorite winter activity in the Brainerd Lakes area?