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Behind the Scenes of True North Basecamp's Lakeside Trails Adventure Hub


True North Basecamp is a mining-inspired trailside adventure hub with lakeside cabins and campsites in Cuyuna Lakes. Today we talk with founder Dan Jurek about the roots and vision of True North Basecamp and how the adventure came to be.

Learn more at True North Basecamp.


How True North Came to Be

The adage "innovation arises from necessity" is a fitting testament to the origins of True North Basecamp. Born from a family's desire for a more comfortable camping experience, True North Basecamp has transformed outdoor enthusiasts' enjoyment of the Cuyuna region.


In September 2013, founder Dan Jurek embarked on a camping and biking trip with his son, Aiden, and some friends. Their first night was far from ideal – harsh and cold, leaving Dan seeking a solution for a more enjoyable outdoor adventure.



Driven by this experience, Dan embarked on a quest for the perfect location to establish custom lodging in the Cuyuna area. His perseverance paid off when he stumbled upon a pristine forty-acre plot boasting scenic mine lakes and seamless access to the trail system.


This discovery marked the genesis of True North Basecamp. With a vision of providing a unique and comfortable outdoor experience, Dan set out to create a haven for families and adventurers alike.


Checking in with Dan Jurek:

I love the mine-inspired cabins; what role has historic mining played in today's enjoyment of the area's recreation and True North?

The "Northwoods Industrial Design" of our cabins is intended to honor and uphold the importance of Cuyuna Mining. Taconite mining was critical in developing mountain bike trails and lakes for paddling in Cuyuna, Minnesota. The area was historically a mining region for iron ore, characterized by pits and mining activity. As mining operations ceased, these pits filled with water, creating the picturesque mine lakes that now attract paddlers.


Moreover, the land scarred by mining became the foundation for the mountain bike trails. The rugged terrain left behind by mining operations was repurposed and transformed into a network of trails, utilizing the unique landscape to create an exceptional mountain biking destination.

In essence, the legacy of taconite mining shaped the physical landscape of Cuyuna, providing the foundation for developing its renowned mountain bike trails and scenic lakes for paddling.



What do you want people to feel and experience when they stay at True North?

I want them to feel a sense of accomplishment from conquering a trail or paddling a lake combined with a sense of calmness and relaxation, feeling at peace amidst natural surroundings. As well as a sense of community by connecting with like-minded fellow guests and visitors who enjoy Cuyuna.


What has it been like seeing Cuyuna Lakes grow as a biking destination and what are you looking forward to about the future?

It's rewarding seeing all the business growth happening among independent business owners with restaurants, bars, gift shops, and outfitters that were absent a few years ago and that they can sustain year-round. The most significant shift we witnessed this past summer was the growth of guests paddling, boarding, and kayaking.



What about the gravel scene? Cuyuna is such a MTB hotspot, do you get many gravellers out that way?

Gravel bikes have become nearly as ubiquitous as mountain bikes, thanks to the numerous routes that cater to gravel biking enthusiasts. You can find an excellent summary of these trails at www.cuyuna.com/gravelgrinderroutes/



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