Summer plans — restaurant opening June 17th

I’m looking out the window at an absolutely gorgeous day.  Clear blue skies with the tiniest white fluffs of clouds; loons on the lake; fresh young leaves on the birches that give the trees the appearance of being vivid green puffballs from afar. Cool nights have meant that we continue to be fairly bug-free.  Fishing is still good.  Summer has the potential to be wonderful.

It’s very quiet now (which means it’s a great time to visit!), but we’re gearing up for the active summer season.  Our seasonal staff is gradually arriving, so it’s starting to feel busier. 

On June 17th Chez Jude will reopen the restaurant at Bearskin.  We’re excited about the summer dining.  Wednesday will feature Judi’s signature Chef’s Tasting Menu, an elegant three course meal.  This is fine dining in a casual atmosphere.  Don’t worry about “dressing for dinner.”

Thursday is pizza night, featuring a three course Tuscan pan pizza menu with
Chez Jude crafted sauces, pizza dough & seasonal fresh toppings.  Choose from 2 sizes and 3 flavors.  This is an all inclusive meal for 4 or 6 people, and includes salad and desert for everyone.  You can do “take-out” to your cabin or eat it in the lodge.  One of the lodge’s under-utilized secret spots is the screened porch off the dining room.  We don’t know why more people don’t use this lovely porch, but it would be a perfect place to share a pizza.  Don’t forget to order beer, wine or pop  from Bearskin’s extensive beverage list to accompany your Tuscan pizza.

Friday is family BBQ ribs night, a three course BBQ ribs menu featuring a 1/2 rack of Chez Jude applewood smoked meaty St. Louis Ribs.  A kids’ menu is also available.  We thought Friday was a good night for family dining, since so many people check out on Saturday.  It might be a bit easier to get organized to leave without cooking a meal the night before.

The Bearskin restaurant is small, so we can’t always promise we’ll have room for everyone who wants to dine during the busy season. We encourage you to call and reseve your dining spots early.

More info about dining at Bearskin can be found at:

Summer Restaurant Plans — Feedback Wanted

Fine dining at Bearskin Lodge
Fine dining at Bearskin Lodge

We’re discussing summer restaurant plans with Chez Jude, the fine dining establishment that prepared such amazing meals for Bearskin guests this winter.  We’ve tossed around lots of ideas and haven’t settled on anything yet for certain, so we’d like some input from you.

Easing back into the restaurant business is a slow process; we’re not able to offer dining every night yet.  We also know that our summer guests would appreciate options, but our dining space is not large enough to offer a variety of dining alternatives all at once.

One idea we’re considering is to have two very different dining nights at Bearskin.  One night would be fine dining night, presenting 3 – 4 course gourmet dinners like Chez Jude prepared during the winter. Another night could be family dining night, offering more casual food. What do you think of this idea?  Which type of meals would you be more likely to enjoy at Bearskin Lodge?  For casual dining nights, what types of foods would you prefer?  We’re thinking Bearskin is not well suited to be a hamburger joint.  What about pasta?  Salads? Pizza? Spaghetti or lasagna night?

Our other question is when to have dining at Bearskin – which nights would work out best for our guests who are on vacation for a week?  We’re contemplating Friday as a fine dining night.  (Saturday is not a good option for Chez Jude and because most of our guests check in and check out on the weekend, Saturday may not be ideal for them either.)   We plan to have the Bearskin picnic gathering again on Monday evening, but all other nights are feasible for dining.  After you’ve been at Bearskin for awhile, when do you get the urge to eat out?

We’d very much appreciate your thoughts on this.  Feel free to comment below, or if you’re more comfortable sharing ideas privately, e-mail 


Weekend update for January 23-25

The forecast for the upcoming weekend includes some colder temperatures, but with the potential for sunny days. The snow continues to be wonderful. Guests repeatedly tell us that the snow is the best it’s been in a decade and that the quality of the grooming has been excellent.

As I type this, I’m watching a group of women skiers from Cabin 3 glide by on the lake path. Frost is making the trees along the lake’s bank look like white cotton candy today, so right now the skiers appear to be posing for an idyllic Christmas card photo. (Where’s the camera, where’s the camera?  Never nearby when we need it!) To keep up on current trail conditions, check out our trail reports at


Menu for January 23

Chez Jude will be here again this weekend and the menu looks fabulous. See   for details. Reservations are available for both Friday and Saturday nights. There are favorable changes in the menu pricing. Also, the kids’ menu is now available online. ( )  Chef Judi Barsness is willing to make accommodations for guest’s special dining needs, as well as for children’s dietary idiosyncrasies. Just let us know ahead of time.

Dog sled trip heading towards Aspen Lake
Dog sled trip heading towards Aspen Lake

Erik Simula will be here this weekend for dog sled trips. While many spots are already full, there are still a few times available. Call our front desk for reservations. Watching Erik go down the lake this week has been breathtakingly beautiful. The snow is so sparkly that it almost looks as if he is mushing through glitter. The dogs seem to be moving quite fast and easily through the deep snow, much more so than they were earlier in the winter when the snow was wetter and less fluffy. It looks staged, it is so perfect.  More mushing info at

Learning how to put on a ski -- ski lessons
Learning how to put on a ski -- ski lessons

Quinn has some openings next week for ski lessons. Today he had a first time lesson with an 8 year old who was new to skiing. Quinn started on skis when he was 3 years old, so he doesn’t have much recollection of those “first times.”  He made a plan for a step by step lesson that would teach how to use the skis and the poles individually, and then put both new skills together afterwards. A few minutes into the lesson, his young student was already skiing. It’s amazing how quickly children pick up this skill.

Our massage therapist will also be available on Saturday, as well as next Wednesday. To make reservations for any of Bearskin’s activities, give our front desk a call at 1(800)338 4170.

Restaurant opens, mushing starts–what a week!

What a week it has been!  Somewhere in the past few days there was a holiday. Grandpa McCloughan came to visit, our own little tree was hurriedly put up, gifts were exchanged and when we weren’t all working, our family attempted to do the Christmas spirit thing.  A pre-Christmas sleigh ride and service at Okontoe helped provide some connection to the reason for the season.

But mostly our time for the past week was spent preparing for two huge new changes at Bearskin: The restaurant opened and dog sledding rides started.


Chez Jude, the harborside Grand Marais restaurant that is serving weekend meals at Bearskin this winter, opened for the first time on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week.  As expected, the food was excellent. Barb and Dave Tuttle were among the first restaurant guests Friday night.  Dave declared the wild rice soup with shitake mushrooms served that night to be the best soup he’d ever tasted; we’d agree — it was all outstanding. Menus and future dates can be found at   Reservations can be made by calling Bearskin at (800 338-4170) or e-mailing  

A word of advice:  We do encourage you to think ahead and make reservations early.  Our restaurant space, as you can see from the photo, is lovely but small; we can’t accommodate very many people. Saturday and Sunday nights this week did fill up and many weekend nights in the future are already almost full.  Give us a call or e-mail us ahead of time if you want to be part of the Bearskin/Chez Jude experience.  The Gunflint Trail community has a shortage of available dining options in the winter so folks who have nearby cabins and homes are welcome to join us for dinner, with reservations.


We also began the mushing program at Bearskin this weekend.  Erik Simula and his team of dogs were very busy taking Bearskin guests and other Gunflint Trail visitors on dog sledding adventures.  Webcam viewers have been asking about the new “thing” they can see on the lake at the far edge of the webcam picture at  That is Erik’s tipi, his home base for the dogsled rides.  Our guests who took trips with Erik this weekend all reported that they enjoyed the musher as much as the mushing.  It is both an exciting and an informative experience.  Erik is here on Saturdays and Sundays all winter.  There are limited numbers of trips available each weekend, so if  these are memories you’d like to make, we suggest you call for a reservation early.