July 21, 2021

Road Tripping to True North Base Camp in Crosby Minnesota

If you are a Minnesota mountain bike enthusiast or you can’t resist a paddleboard, you should make plans to head to the city of Crosby, Minnesota. Located just 2 hours and 10 minutes from the Twin Cities, the city has transformed from a mining town to an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. The Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area is home to 25 miles of mountain bike trails and 7 miles of paved biking trails for hiking or cycling. Previous iron Ore mines are filled with crystal clear water, and there are 24 miles of natural shoreline to explore or paddle. Here is a list of some of the spots we checked out on our #VanLife trip this summer.

True North Basecamp

We parked our van in spot number 12 for van or tent camping ($29-39) at True North Basecamp. This is an excellent spot to pitch a tent, park your van or rent a cabin tent or tiny cottage. The campground was quiet, and every site is situated close to running water and a bathroom. There is a bathhouse for hot showers, and the grounds are very wooded and full of wildflowers. They even have a beach. If you are renting any of their cabin tents ($54-69) or their tiny camping houses ($89-135 and equipped with AC), you will love them. The cabin tents, tents, and camper spots all have fire pits for cooking and picnic tables. We ate lunch in town when we arrived, cooked walleye and potatoes one night at our campsite, had breakfast hash the following day, and went out to dinner the next night. True North is close to town and all the outdoor activities and has everything you need to stay comfortable during your outdoor adventure. 

Crosby Activities

Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area

If you are a mountain biker or fat tire bike enthusiast, the Cuyunta County State Recreation Area trails are some of the best in the country. There are red dirt trails for all types of riders, from easy to expert. There are miles of scenic shoreline perfect for paddle boarding and swimming, and the water is crystal clear. If road biking or hiking is more your speed, there are 8 miles of paved trails, which I enjoyed while Kurt mountain biked. I was able to ride 15 miles on my bike by combining some trails with dirt roads. Maps and trail markers were plentiful throughout the recreation area, and there was tons of parking for day trips ($7 a day – 35 for the season). Kurt had his best day of mountain biking ever, he told me back at camp. 

Bike Rental and Repair

If you need to rent bikes or pick up a new seat (yep, this happened our first day), check out Red Raven. You can rent bikes here for a whole or a half day and get a tasty cup of coffee while you are there. Cykel is also in town and has bike rentals.

Antique Shopping

There are many excellent antique shops in Crosby, especially if you are looking for records, vintage Fiestaware or Red Wing dishes, or cabin chic accessories and thermoses. Check out:

Pine Cone Antiques

Hallett Antique Emporium

202 Antiques on Main

Serbian Sisters Lika Garden

This garden is set up like a public garden in the heart of town, but it is actually someone’s yard that is open for enjoying. The Serbian Sisters Lika Garden celebrates the Serbian Heritage and immigration path that the garden’s founders took as they set up their homesteads in Crosby-Ironton in 1910. Part memorial part garden, it’s a beautiful spot to visit and read about the Serbian Immigrant history in the town.

Victual Ice Cream Shop and Gourmet Market

We watched folks streaming out of a shop with a hot pink sign and an Adam Turman mural on the side of the building licking ice cream cones. Victual is an ice cream,  gourmet cheese, and gift shop with home décor, Minnesota-themed merchandise and shirts, and a host of gourmet foods, including the Twin Cities own Double Take Salsa and Hot Sauces

Places to Eat in Crosby

Raffertys Pizza

We didn’t make it to Rafertys Pizza because it was closed, but the outdoor patio looked great, and it has woodfire pizzas that looked awesome online. I had been told by a local that the basil pesto was the way to go.

Iron Range Eatery

We stopped at Iron Range Eatery for lunch and had an excellent tuna poke bowl, but the highlight was the reuben with house-smoked corned beef that was fantastic on a marble rye bread. Great selection of tap beers, and we saw a few pizzas come out of the kitchen that looked great.

Trailside Tavern and Patio

We saddled up at the Trailside Tavern for a burger and the special broasted chicken dinner. The chicken was excellent with three pieces of chicken, a roll, corn, and mashed potatoes and gravy. The patio was packed when we left, so I suspect we aren’t the only fans of this spot! 

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