IRONTON, Minn. — Winter wonders in Minnesota aren't only found within the Twin Cities. 

Drive a couple hours north to Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, and you'll find many things that it has to offer. 

The day began in Crosby, which borders the recreation area. Our plan was to get in as many activities as we could- since we made the long drive. This meant we needed equipment.

According to the locals, the place to get everything we need is Cycle Path and Paddle. Jenny Smith greeted us at the door and proceeded to size me up for Snowshoes. She also found a fat tire bike to fit my frame. 

A little seat adjustment on the bike and helmet to fit my big melon and we were ready to make the 10-minute drive to the recreation area.

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As soon as we turn at the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area sign you notice the beauty of the area. Snow-covered trees surround us as we come to a stop.  We couldn't wait to get out of the car and start playing in the snow. Jenny lead a quick hike. 

“Pretty much snowshoe wherever you want to go. People do snowshoe out on the mountain bike trails and the mountain bikers actually like that because it packs the trail down more," Smith said. 

After we got the blood flowing, it was time to step up our winter athletic endeavor. 

A couple of volunteers from the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew lead us to some nicely groomed trails, so we got the fat tire bike out and took it for a spin. It felt like I was riding on air as the fat tires glide on top of the compact snow trail. 

We started the ride on a wide trail but were quickly led onto a narrow, tree lined trail. It took a fair amount of concentration to keep me from crashing into a tree.

One of the volunteers remarked “Right now we are entirely groomed. Our whole trail system is groomed which gives us right around 25-30 miles.” 

I was pretty sure I didn't have that in me. So it was time to let a machine do the work as I rode a piece of history.

Butch Holmvig pulled up on a 1970 red and black Scorpion Snowmobile. Holmvig is an avid collector of vintage snowmobiles - especially if they have the Scorpion insignia.

“Scorpions were built in Crosby. The brand means a lot to the area, especially to people of a certain age," Holmvig said.

Holmvig gestured me to get on his near mint-condition 50-year-old ride.

“The trail system runs through the rec area in a few spots and it’s a gorgeous area," Holmvig said. "Then you got all the little community trails tying them all together and it just makes it a really great trail system throughout the area.”

This was my maiden run on a snowmobile, and I had the added pressure not to damage his pride and joy. I eases on the throttle which brought the engine sitting right in front of my legs to life. 

In no time, I’m chewing up the snow. What a rush! I kept it to a pretty wide open area; maybe next time I’ll hit the trails.

If you want to familiarize yourself with the area, you can join hundreds of ice-fishing enthusiasts and Scorpion fans for the Cuyuna Lakes Chamber’s 15th Annual Ice Fishing Contest and Scorpion Homecoming.

The event is from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2 on Serpent Lake in Crosby.

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