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Progress Edition 2022: Crosby lodgings attract bikers, lake and outdoor enthusiasts

True North Basecamp and Cuyuna Cove are two such outdoor retreats in the Crosby area that offer cabins and tents to bicyclists, and lake and outdoor enthusiasts who recreate in the region.

Furnished canvas tents are erected on wooden platforms for guests at True North Basecamp Wednesday, August 10, 2022, in Crosby.
Furnished canvas tents are erected on wooden platforms for guests at True North Basecamp Wednesday, August 10, 2022, in Crosby.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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CROSBY — The immigrant workers who mined precious minerals from the Cuyuna Iron Range may be gone but the region still attracts people from far and wide for its natural resources.

True North Basecamp and Cuyuna Cove are two such outdoor retreats in the Crosby area that offer cabins and tents to bicyclists, and lake and outdoor enthusiasts who recreate in the region.

“Our resort is more for the people that mountain bike and paddleboard,” said Dan Jurek, owner of True North Basecamp. “We’re seeing a big resurgence of paddleboarding this summer.”

True North Basecamp is connected directly to the world-class Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails. The trails are 30 miles of “red gold” that twist their way through the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, and the towns of Crosby, Ironton, Cuyuna and Riverton.

The Husom family of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, surrounds a picnic table on the grounds of True North Basecamp in Crosby.
Nora Husom, left, her older sister Ella, center, and their mom Lisa, right, of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, take a meal break Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, at one of the picnic tables at True North Basecamp in Crosby.
Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

“It’s a very clean campground — nice bathroom and shower facility, quick access to the lake, which was great and quick access to the bike trails, which is why they're here,” Lisa Husom said of True North Basecamp.

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“I'm really excited,” said 13-year-old daughter Ella Husom. “I like biking and these trails are a lot of fun to go around. And they turn new tires orange, which is one of my favorite parts actually.”

Lisa Husom, a 40-year-old wife and mother of two from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, runs a nonprofit and recently rented a campsite at True North Basecamp for the first time for a four-day stay while her husband does a group bicycle ride in the region.

“I think it's a nice campground,” Husom said. “I really wasn't sure what to expect, but it's actually been a lot nicer than what we originally thought it might be. … I think we would stay here again.”

True North Basecamp

Jurek co-founded True North Basecamp with his friend Jeff Bajek. Jurek bought out Bajek in 2021 to become the sole owner. The pair were camping, biking and adventuring in Cuyuna with their sons in 2013 when they had the idea for True North Basecamp.

“Their first night was dank, rainy and frighteningly cold. It took a little of the wind out of their sails,” according to the story on the website for True North Basecamp.

They kept that ordeal in mind while developing True North Basecamp.

Each campsite, cabin tent and cabin on the 40 acres that comprise True North Basecamp near Serpent Lake is equipped with a fire pit, a cooking grate and a picnic table.

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“There was no lodging in the area. And so with the growth of the trails, we decided to open True North Basecamp to accommodate people that mountain bike,” Jurek said.

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True North Basecamp is situated near Main Street in Crosby and its dining options and gear outfitting options. Mountain bikes, paddleboards and snowshoes can be rented locally.

“We have direct trail access and direct lake access,” Jurek said. “And we offer the amenities that campers and vacationers like while on an adventure vacation.”

Dan Jurek, the owner of True North Basecamp, talks about the resort in  Crosby, Tuesday, August 9, 2022, next to the resort's cabins, which resemble miners' cabins that dotted the Cuyuna Range during the mining days.
Dan Jurek, the owner of True North Basecamp, talks about the resort in Crosby, Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The cabins resemble miners' cabins that dotted the Cuyuna Range during the mining days.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Those amenities include heating and air-conditioning, access to high-speed Wi-Fi and several USB charging points, for example, in the cabins. True North Basecamp has six lakefront cabins modeled after the taconite mining industry buildings of the early 1900s.

“Our main goal is making it easy for people to access all that Cuyuna has to offer — meaning nice, clean, modern facilities to relax with after a long day on the trail or paddling in the lake,” Jurek said.

Husom added, “We're not that far from town, so it's close enough to the city if we needed to run into town to grab something that would be convenient. Otherwise, it's very quiet and secluded out here.”

The cost to rent a cabin is $89 per night, Sunday through Thursday, and $135 per night, Friday and Saturday; each cabin has one full size and three twin beds. The cost to rent a 10-foot by 12-foot cabin tent is $54 per night, Sunday through Thursday, and $69 per night, Friday and Saturday.

“There's wildlife, but I wouldn't say that's the main draw — by no means are we a hunting and fishing destination. We're more about paddleboarding and mountain biking,” Jurek said.

Nora Husom, an 11-year-old, said, “It's nice. I like the lake and the trails are really fun. I haven't fallen yet, which is really good.”

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A lake next to the True North Basecamp in Crosby reflects the sunlight of the body of water.
A mine lake on the edge of the True North Basecamp offers guests boating, swimming and other water sports.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

The cost to rent one of the 23 campsites at True North Basecamp is $29 per night, Sunday through Thursday, and $39 per night, Friday and Saturday.

“Winter is a big draw for fat-biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing,” Jurek said.

True North Basecamp opened Dec. 26, 2015, near Pennington Mine Lake in time for what proved to be a busy fat tire-biking season on the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails.

“This area of former mining pits and rock deposit stockpiles now boasts regenerated vegetation and clear lakes that draw a wide range of recreation enthusiasts,” according to the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew website.

According to the area advocacy group, 25 miles of natural shoreline can be explored by boat or canoe and anglers can cast a line for trout, northern, bass, crappie or sunfish.

“We're close to town, the town of Crosby, so all the restaurants and breweries are probably less than a mile from there,” Jurek said of True North Basecamp’s location on First Street Southwest. “But we're also connected to the trails and the lakes.”

Cuyuna Cove

Cuyuna Cove, which also offers lodging, is about a mile away on Minnesota Highway 6 in Crosby and near Portsmouth Mine Pit Lake..

“Our goal in building Cuyuna Cove is that you’ll have a rejuvenating getaway filled with adventure, nature and connecting to yourself and loved ones,” according to the proprietors’ statement on Cuyuna Cove’s website.

The five cabins at Cuyuna Cove were completed June 27, 2020, “in the midst of the pandemic,” and the canvas tents were launched in May of last year, with the redwood sauna finished in October.

Ellen Lawson is a 42-year-old product designer from Minneapolis, and a wife and mother. It was her first time renting lodgings from Cuyuna Cove because her family enjoys mountain biking.

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“We aren't big campers in general. But we're kind of in-between campers, like we like the feel, but we don't want to take all the time to get all the things ready and everything,” Lawson said.

Cuyuna Cove comprises 3 acres of land connected directly to Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area and the mountain bike trails.

“The tent is set up and everything and it has electricity,” Lawson said. “There's a lot of amenities included, so it has like silverware, plates and cups, and so, like, a coffee maker or a little French press and so a lot of the things that we care not to, maybe, pack every single time we go out.”

The cost to rent a tent at Cuyuna Cove starts at $175 a night, and the cost to rent a cabin starts at $250 a night, with cabin amenities such as a bathroom, a patio, a kitchenette, Wi-Fi, a grill and a queen bed.

“Being busy, busy people, we really want to relax on a vacation but still get the kind of the outdoors feel and everything,” said Lawson, who grew up camping.

For your information

Business: True North Basecamp.
City: Crosby.
Number of employees: Three.
Interesting fact: The business opened the day after Christmas Day 2015.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL .

I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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