Forest Service: Lutsen Mountains plans to nearly double in size, add 8 new lifts

Lutsen Mountains along the banks of Lake Superior in Lutsen, Minn.

Documents published by the Superior National Forest and the National Forest Service show Lutsen Mountains Ski Area’s plan to nearly double in size, build a two new base areas and construct numerous new chairlifts.

Currently, the Forest Service is looking for the public’s feedback about the project before it conducts a standard environmental assessment.

Comments may be submitted between now and May 28 online at the USDA website, or they can be emailed to comments-eastern-superior@usda.gov

Terrain

Currently, Lutsen Mountains offers 187.3 acres of skiable terrain. In the proposed expansion, its total acreage would become 361.8.

The majority of the expansion, or 143.1 of the acres, would be on Moose Mountain. 31.4 of the new acres would be located on Eagle Mountain. Currently, the two mountains are connected by Lutsen’s gondola.

A map outlining Lutsen Mountains's proposed expansion that would add 8 new lifts and nearly double the resort's total acreage.

For skiers who prefer the trees, Lutsen’s plan includes 172.5 total acres of gladed terrain, a significant increase from its current total of 23.5 acres.  

Lifts

Lutsen’s plan includes seven new chairlifts and one surface lift, too.

Of the new lifts, the longest will be on Moose Mountain. It will climb 725 vertical feet and hold six people per chair. The longest new lift on Eagle Mountain will hold four guests at a time and will rise 537 vertical feet.

A chairlift on Lutsen Mountains in Lutsen, Minn. (FOX 9)

Base areas and chalets

One new base area at Moose Mountain and a second new base area at Eagle Mountain are also proposed in the plan.

The Eagle Mountain base area will provide restrooms, food and bar services, ticketing, equipment rentals, ski school and public lockers. Plus, it will have office space for ski patrol and other administrative employees.

The two-story building will be between 19,000 and 23,000 square feet. Another 1,200 square-foot maintenance building is also proposed.

An additional 5.6 acres of walk-to parking are also proposed at the Eagle Mountain base area.

Moose Mountain, which currently doesn’t have a base area, will also see a new base lodge as part of the proposal. It will feature all of the same amenities as Eagle Mountain’s new lodge and will be similar in size.

A parking lot and a maintenance building are also part of the plans on the Moose Mountain side. 

Snowmaking

Lutsen’s plan includes snowmaking on all 174.5 acres of its new terrain, but not in the gladed tree skiing. 

To make snow, the resort hopes to install new pumps, valves, hydrants and pump houses along with new snowmaking ponds. Snowmaking typically occurs early November through late February at Lutsen.

To do so, the resort will need to pump 7,500 gallons per minute from Lake Superior. It will have to apply for the additional water appropriations from the DNR.

Hiking and snowmobile trails

The realignment of two trails are proposed as part of the plan, including a realignment of an existing snowmobile trail on the Eagle Mountain side of the resort. The trail would connect to the proposed Eagle Mountain parking area.

The second trail that would change would be a 1.7-mile portion of the Superior Hiking Trail on the Moose Mountain side of the resort. The trail will be reconstructed with switchbacks on the backside of Moose Mountain, which would expand the trail by about 0.2 miles.