Taking the back roads through Northern Minnesota presents explorers with a beautiful escape. This is especially true if you’re lucky enough to claim the back seat, keeping both eyes peeled to scout wildflowers, sky-scapes and other captivating photographic moments…
Last June with the North Shore’s lush Lupine in full bloom, Eric, Zach and I set our sights inland to Finland, Minnesota. Destination: the infamous Trestle Inn Restaurant & Saloon.
Zach drove and Eric navigated (old school map comes in handy when you lose that cellular connection!). That meant I had to be the photographer <grin> and was able to request frequent and impromptu stops within the Superior National Forest.
Fortunately traffic was at a lull on these winding Minnesota country roads…
The Trestle Inn Restaurant and Saloon has a rich history, steeped in Minnesota hospitality, and was originally built, owned and operated by the Schumacher family (who also own nearby Crooked Lake Resort). In 2000, Susan Butler purchased the Trestle Inn from the Schumachers and continues the year-round legacy of serving up cool beverages and great food to locals and visitors alike. You can click here to begin to map your route.
When we arrived, there was work underway on the exterior porch roof, but this will give you an idea of the sturdy structure. I thought this excerpt from the website offered interesting detail as to how the Inn was built:
In the early spring of 1980, while on a snowmobiling adventure, Lee (Crooked Lake Resort owner at the time) and son Kurt came across an abandoned railroad trestle last used in the 1920s. With permission from the Forest Service, they disassembled the bridge. One at a time, with Lee’s 1948 Willys Jeep, they hauled the 8 x 16 x 33 ft. long Douglas Fir timbers (weighing 1950 pounds each) five miles back to the resort. There they were piled for future use…The Trestle Inn, a unique restaurant/saloon, was completed and opened in the fall of 1985. It became a popular stop for travelers of all kinds.
The menu offers a great selection, touting everything from apps and tasty burgers to a catch-of-the-day, “Side Cars” (e.g. soups, salads) and hearty dinner plates, such as Flat Iron Steak, French Dip and BBQ ribs. There are kid-friendly options and “Senior Moments” as well 🙂
The walleye sandwich was quite delicious paired with a cold Castle Danger IPA.
The bar itself is fantastic, right out of a museum, with a huge selection of liquor pours and plenty of kitschy signs and sayings to fuel the conversation. Curious for more menu reviews? Check out TripAdvisor.
Heading back to Lutsen, we stopped a few more times for some lovely late-evening snaps. The scenic drive to and from the Trestle Inn is worth every second!
At Ninemile Lake…
And, looking back over our shoulder along the gravel roadways, such a lovely sky and wild expanse of beauty.
Last but not least, the all-season Trestle Inn is a winter hot spot for snowmobilers. If you ride, check out the highlights on this blog post.
If you’ve been to the Trestle Inn, what was your experience? It would be a lovely drive in the fall as well, to catch the autumn colors!
This story first appeared on From Lutsen with Love in August 2018. All reflections and images are my own.
7 thoughts on “Roadtrip to Finland…Minnesota”
We were there years ago with some friends from Castle Danger. What an adventure through the woods!!! We were just visiting about it last week on our annual stay in Grand Marais with out grown daughters.
So fun, Linda! Yes, we kept wondering if we missed it, but just kept meandering and it appeared. I think it’d be a lovely drive in the fall, too!
Best place to go ever. In the many years I have been going there I still to this day always wonder if I am ever going to make it there on the dirt road . I always think I pass it to. It is so quit up there just a fun relaxing time with the kids and more so with out. We have stayed at the Crooked lake resorts many times love it there too. I have never in my life met the most friendly people ever. Well needless to say Susan Butler is like a 2nd mom to me as her daughter has been my best friend for many many years. She cooks the best food ever, I never go home Hungary 😁 Fall time is my favorite of all the seasons. Just going and seeing all the beautiful trees changing colors. It’s my honor to have a 2nd family like everyone up there. I recommend taking a drive up there in the fall or any time and stopping in for a drink and great food. Trust me you wont retreat it.
Hi, Jessica, what a special connection you have with this beautiful slice of Minnesota paradise! I’m sure they wait for you to return visit after visit 🙂 And..love hearing how fall is your favorite time to make the trek. I can only imagine those remote roadways filled with golds, oranges, yellows and reds!
🙂 Yay – all the way to Finland – haha!