New business Boreal Backcountry Cabins opens this May in Tofte
Starting Memorial Day weekend, hikers traveling through the Tofte area on the Superior Hiking Trail can swap out a night in a tent for a night in a cozy off-grid cabin.
Boreal Backcountry Cabins consist of two off-grid hike-in cabins located between Britton Peak trailhead and Oberg Mountain trailhead north of the Superior Hiking Trail. The dream to start Boreal Backcountry Cabins began twenty years ago when owners Sonja Helland and Scott Forbort purchased 80 acres north of Tofte. They envisioned creating lodging opportunities for trail users, similar to that of other long-distance trail systems such as the Appalachian Trail.
Helland’s connection to the west end of Cook County began in the 1980s when she worked a summer job at Lutsen Resort. She said that summer job “pretty much started a love affair of the North Shore.”
Since then, she has maintained a connection to the North Shore and the Lutsen area. Many on the west end know her for ‘Sonja’s special secret recipe pancakes’ served for many years at the Lutsen Fire Department pancake breakfast.
After the purchase of the property in the early 2000s, Helland and Forbort began constructing a road, digging a well, and building the first two cabins. Forbort said, “It’s been a lengthy process, but it’s always been a dream of ours to get it done.” Helland added, “And we did it.”
The two off-grid cabins, Black Spruce, and Sugar Maple offer bunk bed sleeping accommodations for up to three people and operate on solar-powered lights and a propane heater. In addition, the cabins and surrounding area include a picnic table, fire ring, outhouses, and water from a solar well pumphouse.
Helland said the cabins provide “a more comfortable spot for hikers that are interested in taking a little break from the tenting and elements.” While the off-grid cabins are intended for Superior Hiking Trail section or thru-hikers, Helland said the hike-in cabins are also open to the general public to reserve. The two cabins will be available to book between Memorial Day weekend and mid to late October.
As Helland and Forbort prepare for their first full summer operating the two cabins, Forbort said they have plans to construct a third cabin. They anticipate starting construction on the next cabin this summer.
A busy summer lies ahead for the two Boreal Backcountry Cabin owners. Now that their longtime dream is coming to fruition, Helland said she is looking forward to sharing their love of the area with others and “introducing them to something that we think is quite beautiful and amazing.”
“I’m looking forward to meeting more people,” Forbort said. In addition, “Working on the cabin and just being up in the woods all summer long and all fall long. It’s a beautiful place to be.”
WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with the owners of Boreal Backcountry Owners, Sonja Helland, and Scott Forbort, to learn more about their new business. Audio from the interview is below.
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