SHTA Comments on Lutsen Mountains Expansion

May 14, 2020

Lutsen Mountains, a popular ski resort and destination along the Superior Hiking Trail, has proposed an expansion of their ski area and facilities onto adjacent Superior National Forest lands managed by the US Forest Service (USFS). The expansion, as proposed, would greatly impact the route, character, and accessibility of the Superior Hiking Trail in the area.

The wild, remote, and spectacular character of the SHT near Lutsen Mountains must be preserved.

Lutsen Mountains has applied to the USFS for a Special Use Permit, and the USFS recently notified the public that they intend to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the expansion. Public comments are being accepted by the USFS through May 28th as part of the EIS process.

While the SHTA does not oppose the expansion of Lutsen Mountains’ area of operation, SHTA does not accept the reroute of the Trail as proposed by Lutsen Mountains. SHTA recently submitted comments detailing our concerns and a proposal that outlines an alternate, optimal reroute for the SHT through the area. We are confident that our proposed reroute will help ensure the Trail remains sustainable, enjoyable, and accessible throughout the year.

You can find our comments on the expansion project here and a map of our optimal reroute below.

Our optimal reroute (shown in purple) would move the SHT to higher ground away from the proposed expansion area, ensuring year-round access and an enjoyable experience for trail users.

As always, you can contact us with any questions about the proposal.

May 26, 2020 Update: SHTA has provided additional comments to USFS on the Lutsen Mountains Ski Area Expansion Project.

Supplemental Comments provided to USFS:

The following comments are a supplement to the comments the Superior Hiking Trail Association submitted on May 14 regarding an Environmental Impact Statement for an expansion of Lutsen Mountains ski resort.  These comments are indeed a supplement to our original comments and are not intended to alter or revise the essence of those comments: that rerouting the Superior Hiking Trail away from the Lutsen Mountains expansion area entirely is in the interest of both the Trail and the ski resort. 

To reiterate, the SHTA does not oppose Lutsen’s expansion plans and we support the likely positive benefit such an expansion would have for the tourism and recreation economy of northeastern Minnesota.

Our critique of the expansion and its effect on the Superior Hiking Trail should not be read as an implicit opposition to the expansion.  Our comments were intended to bolster our case for moving (rerouting) the Superior Hiking Trail away from Lutsen Mountains’ expansion area entirely.  We feel strongly a new route would be better for the Trail and its users.  We also believe that it would be in the interest of Lutsen Mountains to not have to work around the SHT, not only in building the expansion but in managing the ski resort once the expansion is built.