Tofte, Minnesota on Lake Superior's North Shore

A good place to live, and a popular place to vacation.

Our Origins – a brief history on Tofte

In the early 1890s, twin brothers John and Andrew Tofte who were both just over 20 years old at the time, sailed to America from the fjords of northern Norway. Along with them came Torger Engelsen, who was their age, and Torger’s brother Hans, a few years older. The four young men settled on Lake Superior's North Shore and took up commercial fishing. This enterprise prospered and by the turn of the century they had married, occupied 160-acre tracts of land acquired through government homestead grants, and erected fish houses. The two pairs of brothers had been joined in the meantime by Edward Tofte, who set up a saw mill, and with the new expanded employment at the mill, the township of Tofte expanded.

summer sunset tofte minnesota

Two Big Storms on Lake Superior, and a Storm Festival

Then disaster struck, twice. In 1905 a devastating storm destroyed their fish houses, and five years later, a huge forest fire wiped out the sawmill. Much of the surrounding timberland and most of the town was lost in the fire as well. But these were resilient people, and they picked themselves up by their bootstraps and rebuilt. Prosperity returned and their families grew.
The original parcels that were granted to settlers were divided among their descendants. Others moved to the area and the township of Tofte, Minnesota evolved into what it is now: a good place to live and a popular place for vacationers to visit. Glimpses of how life was in Tofte's early days, with a particular emphasis on the history of the commercial fishing industry, can be seen in artifacts and photographs collected at the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum.    

The gales and howling winds of November, with Superior's waves crashing the cliffs, create the greatest reasons ever for the Lake Superior Storm Festival, for all you romantics who know why fireplaces were invented. So venture out, and attend a festival happening up and down the North Shore, all in the name of nature's power and wild beauty. And you can be sure, that there are fantastic cozy restaurants to catch a hearty meal between art exhibits and wine tastings, or telling a few jokes at Sven & Ole's Pizza. Sooner than later however, we know you'll be back in front of that fireplace.

Community Spirit and the 4th of July

Some of the land area that the relatives of the original settlers inherited was donated to the township. In particular, John Tofte's eldest child, Elizabeth, gave the land which is now the Tofte park, and his wife provided land for the church. John Tofte himself commissioned the building of cobblestone bridges and a fountain which is now a wishing well. All of this generosity contributed much to Tofte's community spirit and ambience. At no time is that spirit more in evidence than the festivities on the Fourth of July. Vacationers can join with locals enjoying a parade, barbecues, live entertainment and, of course, fireworks.

Scenic Beauty of the North Shore

Tofte today has an abundance of the recreational opportunities that, along with the scenic beauty and quietude, draw people to the North Shore region. The Gitchi-Gami State Trail is a planned multi-use, paved, non-motorized route. When finished, it will run 86 miles from Two Harbors to Grand Marais. At present, it's about one-third complete, and much of that third happens to be around the township of Tofte. So if a bike rack is a standard travel accessory for you, Tofte is definitely worth considering.

Temperance River

Another nearby destination, interesting both for its scenery and recreational opportunities, is the Temperance River. Located to the south of Tofte toward Schroeder, it got its name from a pun. The river runs through a deep cut as it flows into Lake Superior, so there is no sandbar at its mouth. So with no bar, someone figured a good name would be "temperance." But puns aside, the waterfalls here cut through the layers of rock, and these falls are just one of several waterfalls along the North Shore of Lake Superior.
The Temperance River State Park, has a lot to offer to visitors and locals alike. A stretch of the Superior Hiking Trail runs along either side of the river, past Hidden Falls and other waterfalls, picnic and camping sites, rocks to climb and pools to fish. Those not able or inclined to do the uphill hiking can drive a mile up Temperance Road (Hwy. 343) for easier access to the river.
Trails that are good for hiking in the warm months are often equally excellent for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, mushing, skijoring and snowmobiling in winter. The forest land around Tofte is laced with these trails. Some trails are owned and maintained by the Superior National Forest and others are privately owned. It's best to check on any permits and fees that may be involved before setting out. Downhill skiing and snowboarding are to be found at nearby Lutsen Mountain.

Vacation Rental Accommodations in Tofte

It is only natural to want to setup a home-base in Tofte for all your explorations of the north shore of Lake Superior. Enjoy Superior National Golf Course and the forested areas including the Sugarbush Trails. Stay awhile and enjoy the comforts of one of our beautiful vacation condominiums, vacation cabins, townhomes and home rentals. We have over 20 vacation rentals to choose from including 1 bedroom up to 4 bedrooms. You’ll love your vacation stay with us in Tofte.

A Good Place To Live

People are very friendly in Tofte. Visitors especially notice this friendliness, since the locals have long ago become used to, well, one another. If someone in a store in Tofte offers you assistance, chances are, they don’t even work there, that’s how nice people are in Tofte. It’s also a good place to live, and a popular place to vacation… winter, summer, spring and fall.


North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum
Gitchi Gami State Trail
Temperance River State Park
Superior Hiking Trail
Superior National Forest
Tofte Winter Recreation Trails