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Tioga Mine Pit


Tioga Mine Pit is located in the Tioga Recreation Area (TRA) in Cohasset, Minnesota. The recreation area is known for mountain biking, hiking, fishing, paddling, snowshoeing, swimming, and diving. My hiking buddy and I stuck to paddling and it was awesome. It is the only place in Minnesota to see turquoise water and it is BEAUTIFUL!

The lake is 225 feet deep and super clear, so you can see some cool rock formations, root bundles, and so much more. The lake is about a mile in circumference, so it can be quick or leisurely depending on how you want to tackle it. We chose to go the leisurely route and took our time.  

There are plenty of other lakes and river accesses to explore nearby if you’re wanting to go exploring. We didn’t this time, but it is on the list of things to do when I end up back here on a bright and sunny day in the future (it was cloudy because of rain and hazy due to the fires in Canada).

Accessibility of the Facility


All of the parking lots for the different areas are gravel. They are well-maintained, so navigating them is no problem if you don’t have an issue with loose rocks.  Nothing is marked for handicapped use, but it is an open lot so close spots could be available if you get there at a good time. I was able to drive right up to a couple of mountain bike trailheads and back right up to the boat access where we put the kayaks in. The hill is steep and had me huffing and puffing when walking up and down it before I realized I could just drive my car down there…don’t be like me 😂😂😂


Bathrooms…I don’t remember seeing one of those. Their website says that there is a bathroom at each trailhead, and I believe them. I just can’t speak to the type or accessibility of them. If you aren’t near one of the trailheads, it’s likely a pee-in-the-woods or hold-it kind of thing. Let’s face it, peeing in the woods and not getting any on yourself is a good skill to have so if you have the strength, stability, and coordination to practice, do it. You never know when you’ll have to use that skill.

Trail Access

All of the trails and areas to access are clearly marked, so knowing where you are and how to get to where you want to be is fairly simple. Even for someone like me who is directionally challenged (just ask my hiking buddy about me trying to get back to the main road…on two different occasions…🤣🤣🤣).

Kayaking Experience

If it isn’t your first time here, you know I have a kayak that I love—it’s beautiful and has a matching paddle and everything. I’m super proud of it. My hiking buddy doesn’t and had to rent one. She rented it from Paddle Hoppers just down the road from the TRA.

Typically, you are supposed to make reservations at least 18 hours in advance (I didn’t know, so I’m sharing so no one else makes that mistake and can’t go), but due to some luck on our part and a party canceling due to weather concerns, we got a kayak! The staff there was awesome. They helped us load the two boats onto my car, and let us borrow a universal roof rack as well as an extra life jacket for yours truly because I need a new one (thank you prednisone weight).

I tend to not wear one and just throw it in the boat just in case I get stopped by the DNR, especially if I am in an area I know. However, I figured I should be safe and a positive influence, so I put it on and actually buckled it up.

Real talk, I used to be a good swimmer, but my old lady lungs hit my endurance hard so I really should be more responsible. I’ve only gone in the water for swimming activities a couple of times since diagnosis and neither of them were in a lake. I can tread water like a pro, but that might not be enough one of these days. So, like the campaign at the visitor center of the Pokegama Dam Campground says LIFE JACKET WORN…NO ONE MOURNS or something like that.

The lake itself was quiet, peaceful, and absolutely stunning, even in the haze and clouds. The currents were not very strong, and the breeze was light, so maneuvering around didn’t require much energy on my part. We would have stayed longer, but the Air Quality Index (AQI) was high, and it affected my breathing. I didn’t get sent into an episode, but there was some coughing and shortness of breath near the end. I’d rate this as easy for paddling and moderate for gear hauling.

We met some great people who started paddling right as we did. One of them gave us each a push to help us launch and another helped me and my hiking buddy when she capsized so she could get back in the boat. We were grateful because my only solution was to bring her to shore and then go back for her boat. The main reason I have a sit-in kayak is because I know with 100% certainty if I had a sit-on like she did I would end up in the lake every time. I move around way too much and had a close call.

The kind strangers (who I recognized from our campground) were doing some fishing and sightseeing and when I asked about their luck, he told me he caught a couple of rock bass and one human. We all had a good laugh, and my hiking buddy increased her XP twice. Once was through capsizing and the other was proper paddle instruction by me because no one has time for blisters and sore shoulders on this trip. However, we didn’t lose any phones, hearing aids, car keys, or glasses so it was a good day. Heck, the crackers didn’t even get wet! Put your stuff in a dry bag and hook that thing to your boat.

Getting the boats up and down so many times in one day was a bit of a struggle for me, even with the help of my hiking buddy. It’d be cool to have a way to do it that doesn’t take so much energy, but I’m working with what I have for now. That EZ RACK would come in handy for trips like this for sure…one day I will own one.

There isn’t a place there to spray off your boats, which is super important for the health of the water and ecosystem. I have strong feelings on this matter and it’s a law here in Minnesota, so if you need education, here you go. We took care of it at the campground, utilizing the hoses at the dumping station. I also cleaned it off again when I got back home with my friend’s hose because I missed some sand and bugs…so many bugs.  

Tioga Mine Pit has been on my list of things to do since I found out about it a few summers ago and it did not disappoint. I am 100% going to take a day trip there again. I suggest you do too if you like paddling around in one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever paddled on.  

We are going to continue playing a game of I Spy with my new hiking buddy, Currently Unnamed CardyBear. See if you can spot him and put it in the comments.

Also, if you feel called to help a sista out with her travels and energy conservation, check this out!

Be safe out there! Remember to be smarter than me and WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET! Seeyalaterbye <3

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