13 Fun Reasons to Visit Proctor Minnesota (Near Duluth!)

Proctor is nestled just 8 miles away from the popular destination of Duluth in Minnesota. You’ve probably even unknowingly driven past Proctor on your way to Duluth before. It’s got a small town vibe and access to some seriously fun and outdoorsy things to do. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds and maybe save a little cash, Proctor is a great alternative to Duluth for a Minnesota Weekend getaway.

Here are 13 fun reasons to visit Proctor Minnesota in any season!

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Where is Proctor Minnesota?

Proctor is located about 2 hours north of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul, just 10 minutes southwest from Duluth and Lake Superior. From Proctor, you can easily access awesome hiking, biking, and snowmobiling trails as well as downhill skiing and snowboarding in the winter.

Map showing Proctor about 2 hours north of the Twin Cities, next to Duluth.
Proctor is located just 10 minutes southwest of Duluth, about 2 hours north of the Twin Cities.

The town is conveniently located just off of I-35W, immediately before Duluth. 

Best Hotels in Proctor Minnesota

There are several quality hotels in Proctor Minnesota to choose from! These are mid-range in cost and have all of the typical amenities you need (plus a few extras). If you are looking for a more ‘luxury’ experience, your best bet is to look in nearby Duluth.

Best Western Plus Spirit Mountain Duluth 

Located just 1 mile from Spirit Mountain, this Best Western Plus is a great option to be close to the action. The hotel has an indoor pool and fitness center plus free wifi and a hot breakfast. 

// Check availability and prices at Best Western Plus Spirit Mountain now!

Americinn by Wyndham South Proctor

The Americinn by Wyndham hotel in Proctor with a large covered carport and plenty of parking space for large vehicles and equipment like snowmobiles.
The Americinn by Wyndham is conveniently located near I-35W, Spirit Mountain, and many other nearby attractions.

Also located just 1 mile from Spirit Mountain, this Americinn is a good mid-range option with onsite access to snowmobiling trails. The hotel has an indoor pool, fitness center, free wifi and hot breakfast. As an added bonus, the Black Woods Bar & Grill is attached to the hotel!

// Check availability and prices at Americinn by Wyndham South Proctor now!

Willard Munger Inn 

The Willard Munger Inn is a bit more rustic than the Best Western but it has some pretty awesome perks! The inn is located just steps away from the paved Willard Munger Trail, a popular biking trail that is over 70 miles long. During your visit get free access to a bike rental so you can explore as much as you’d like and even bike the 1.2 miles over to Spirit Mountain.

Another perk is free Lake Superior Zoo passes, which is just a 5 minute walk away. Each room at Willard Munger Inn comes with a patio area and access to a grill giving it complete Minnesota cabin vibes.

// Check availability and prices at Willard Munger Inn now!

Spirit Mountain Campground

You can’t get much closer than camping at Spirit Mountain! Located just across from the Spirit Mountain Adventure Park, the campground has convenient access to all the fun and activities. Plus, enjoy views of Lake Superior, St Louis Bay and even the Aerial Lift Bridge in nearby Canal Park just steps away.

Spirit Mountain Campground has over 70 campsites with electrical hookups in addition to walk-in tent camping sites. Walk-in campsites fill up quickly in the summer so book early or plan to come mid-week for the best odds of getting one!

// Check availability at Spirit Mountain Campground now!

Top Reasons to Visit Proctor Minnesota

1 | Enjoy a thrill at Spirit Mountain.

A mountain bike is clipped to the back of the scenic chair lift at Spirit Mountain, with views of the St Louis River in the background.
The scenic chair lift at Spirit Mountain is designed to carry mountain bikes back up to the top!

Spirit Mountain is a fun destination for all ages in any season! In winter, it’s a skiing and snowboarding destination. And in summer, it’s got hiking, mountain biking, scenic chair lift rides and all kinds of thrills at the Spirit Mountain Adventure Park!

My favorite is the Timber Twister, which is a gravity alpine coaster that races along a 3200 foot track! If one ride isn’t enough for you, purchase a multi-ride or day pass. The Adventure Park also has putt-putt, ziplining, a jumping pillow and more!

Mountain biking at Spirit Mountain has a unique twist – it’s downhill all day! Barrel down the mountain biking trails and then hop on the chair lift with your bike to get back up to the top. 

Plan your trip to Spirit Mountain with this detailed guide!

2 | Hike a section of the Superior Hiking Trail.

The Superior Hiking Trail extends in front and upward with large tree roots and rocks making the path uneven. On either side is lush green forest.
The Superior Hiking Trail is known for its large tree roots and rocky, uneven terrain.

Proctor offers easy access to several day hikes along the 300+ miles Superior Hiking Trail, including Jay Cooke State Park, Spirit Mountain, and the Brewer Park Loop Trail. 

The Superior Hiking Trail stretches from the border of Canada to the border of Wisconsin, following the ridgeline along Lake Superior. It’s a treasure in northern Minnesota with incredible views, waterfalls, and rugged landscape. The trail is designed to be hiked in sections as day hikes or multi-day backpacking trips. 

Jay Cooke State Park is one of my favorites in Minnesota. The St Louis River rushes through a gorge made up of unique slate rock formations.

Pro Tip: Consider joining the Minnesota State Parks passport club and earn free nights of camping for visiting the parks!

A section of the Superior Hiking Trail goes through the Spirit Mountain recreation area. Learn more about where to park and find the trailhead in this post.

The Brewer Park Loop Trail gives you views of the Duluth skyline from above with a healthy mix of inclines, declines and flat sections. Plan your hike with this detailed trail guide.

3 | Enjoy the sunset from Ely’s Peak.

Me very sweaty in the sun with Ely's Peak in the distance over my shoulder.
Ely’s Peak is a local favorite hike with 360-degree views of the surrounding area. Here you can see the peak just over my shoulder.

Find out why this trail is a local favorite! Take in a 360-degree view of the St Louis River Valley, Duluth and a peek at Lake Superior from Ely’s Peak. This is an awesome place to view the sunset, but it’s a great trail for any time of day too!

The trail is a 1.7 mile loop with around 400 feet of elevation gain. Plan your hike with this detailed trail guide with info on where to park!

4 | Hit the mountain biking trail at Brewer Park.

This 5 mile singletrack loop trail is a fun ride that criss crosses through Brewer Park. Enjoy views of the Duluth skyline and Lake Superior on this intermediate level trail. Expect large tree roots, granite slabs and optional stunt opportunities.

To access the trail, use the free parking lot at the Brewer Park Mountain Bike trailhead on Haines Road. From the parking lot, if you are facing the street, follow the sidewalk to the right, down a slight gravel slope and through a tunnel that goes under the road. The tunnel is labeled ‘Superior Hiking Trail’ because this mountain biking trail intersects with the SHT. The intersections are well marked for both hikers and bikers.

5 | Grab a bite (and a bit of railway history) at Proctor Pizza.

Close up of a pizza from Proctor Pizza & Sub Shop at an outdoor dining table.
Proctor Pizza & Sub Shop is located in downtown Proctor and offers dine-in or takeaway service.

Who doesn’t love pizza? Proctor Pizza & Sub Shop is located in the downtown area of Proctor. The menu has something for everyone, from pizza to hot or cold sub sandwiches. This makes the perfect meal after a day of hiking or other adventures!

The inside of Proctor Pizza features railway memorabilia honoring Proctor’s long history with the railway system.

6 | Learn about the railway history of Proctor at the Proctor Museum.

The Proctor area is part of a territory once occupied by the Sioux and later the Ojibwe people. The first settlement occurred when the Duluth, Missabe and Northern (DM&N) Railway was built. The railway was established to connect the iron ore being mined in the nearby iron range to the ports at Lake Superior. 

Learn more about the history of the land that Proctor occupies and the evolution of the railway system at the Proctor Museum.

Pro Tip: For a unique experience, visit in August for the Proctor Hoghead Festival which celebrates Proctor’s railway history. It features railroad related events as well as a parade, fireworks, and more.

7 | Explore the many snowmobiling trails.

Snowmobilers love Proctor as an alternative to Duluth and the north shore because it’s less crowded and easier to navigate with a trailer. The Americinn in Proctor has snowmobile trail access on the property and gas stations just across the street for easy refueling. Connect to trails that can take you north towards Ely and up to Silver Bay and beyond along the north shore.

Proctor also sponsors two national snowmobiling events: the Amsoil Snocross and ALS Black Woods Blizzard Tour.

8 | Sit back and relax at Black Woods Bar & Grill.

The Black Woods Bar & Grill in Proctor is conveniently attached to the Americinn by Wyndham hotel.
Black Woods Bar & Grill in Proctor is conveniently attached to the Americinn by Wyndham hotel and features Minnesota-inspired dishes.

Black Woods Bar & Grill features Minnesota-inspired dishes and a full bar all with a neighborhood feel. Proctor has one of three Black Woods locations throughout Minnesota. It’s a great place to refuel after a long day and share stories with friends over a meal.

9 | Drive along West Skyline Parkway.

The West Skyline Parkway road stretches out in front and winds off to the left in the distance. On either side are tall green trees with sunlight shining through.
The West Skyline Parkway winds through forests in the area surrounding Duluth as well as several viewpoints of the city from above.

Wind your way along West Skyline Parkway and enjoy endless forest and incredible views of Duluth, Lake Superior and the surrounding area. The parkway connects nearby Spirit Mountain with the city of Proctor.

Be sure to stop at Thompson Hill Information Center for an excellent view of the Duluth skyline and free parking. It’s especially nice just before sunset! 

10 | Watch a race at the Proctor Speedway.

The Proctor Speedway is a ⅜ mile clay track, located at the St Louis County Fairgrounds. They have auto races on Sundays from May to October. For a complete list of their upcoming events, visit their website.

11 | Bike (or walk) along the Willard Munger Trail.

The paved Willard Munger Trail extends in front with lush greenery and bright yellow wildflowers on either side.
The Willard Munger Trail is a paved multi-use trail that stretches for 70 miles from Hinckley to Duluth.

This paved trail is split into three sections, this one being a 70-mile long stretch from Hinckley to Duluth. It’s a popular trail for long distance bicyclists. If you don’t have a bike, it’s no problem. This is a multi-use trail, meaning it’s shared with bikers, hikers and anyone else!

The Willard Munger Trail is relatively flat and follows along Lake Superior and the historic Mississippi Railroad route. It winds through some pretty stunning scenery, including the rugged landscape of nearby Jay Cooke State Park.

During the summer months, the trail is lined with colorful wildflowers and crosses over several streams and rivers.

Pro Tip: Find parking at the Western Waterfront Trail parking lot or along the street if the lot is full.

12 | Enjoy a pint at one of the many nearby breweries.

Left: Me holding a partially empty Ursa Minor pint glass with the outdoor patio in the background. Right: The intricate detail on the Ursa Minor Brewery bar indoors.
Ursa Minor Brewing has a large outdoor patio with shade, sun and fire pits to accommodate any Minnesota weather!

Proctor is located just a short drive from a number of great local breweries in western Duluth. One of my favorites is Ursa Minor Brewing. It’s got a laid back atmosphere and huge outdoor space, including fire pits for those cold Minnesota nights.

Pro Tip: If you love live music, check Ursa Minor’s website for their upcoming events.

Other options nearby include Wild State Cider and Bent Paddle Brewing Co.

13 | Stroll along the waterfront on the Waabisheshikana Trail.

Me hiking along the Waabisheshikana Trail along the St Louis River near Duluth Minnesota.
The Waabisheshikana Trail is a gravel trail that follows the St Louis River near Spirit Mountain.

Take a tranquil morning stroll along the shoreline of the St Louis River on the newly renamed Waabisheshikana Trail. The trail is mostly gravel with light inclines and declines. This is a great hike for bird watchers and wildflower lovers. 

The trail is approximately 3 miles, out-and-back.

Pro Tip: Access this trail from the same area as the Willard Munger Trail. Parking can be found at the Western Waterfront Trailhead parking lot or along the street.

Are you ready to visit Proctor Minnesota?

Let’s face it, Duluth is a lovely town but it can be crowded and pricey especially in the summer months. Proctor is an awesome alternative for an outdoorsy weekend getaway without the crowds or breaking the bank!

Related content to read next:

13 Two Harbors MN Winter Activities (for Outdoor Lovers!)

Perfect Day Trip to Minnesota’s North Shore

Prepared Girl’s Guides

Check out my Minnesota travel page for even more inspiration and tips!

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Text: 13 Fun Reasons to Visit Proctor Minnesota, Image: A chair lift in the distance with a tall green grass and yellow flowers in the foreground.

2 thoughts on “13 Fun Reasons to Visit Proctor Minnesota (Near Duluth!)

  1. This Big Wild World says:

    Wow, that sounds like quite an adventure Nikki! What a fun way to spend time together. Proctor is right next to the town of Duluth, which is the gateway to the north shore of Lake Superior where there are tons of outdoors things to enjoy. Other places to recommend between the Boundary Waters and South Carolina – there’s so many!

    Depending on where your son is based, Ely Minnesota is a gem and one of the two gateways to the Boundary Waters. If he isn’t based there, it’s a fun place to stop. In Wisconsin, I love Hayward and Bayfield, both have tons to do outdoors. For kayaking/canoeing/biking, the Lanesboro (MN) area in the Driftless Region is great too. The Upper Peninsula in Michigan isn’t exactly on your way but is a beautiful area if you want to cut across there and down through Michigan. Here is a link to my Minnesota travel page with tons of other ideas like Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Have a wonderful trip!

  2. Nikki Merritt says:

    I’m meeting my son in Duluth in August to drive home with him to South Carolina. (He’s working at Northern Tier (Boy Scouts) this summer leading treks on the boundary waters. Proctor sounds like a great place to check out before we really hit the road. Any other tips/links for things to see/do along the way towards Chicago and further south.

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