SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

August 5, 2013

MN Ludlow’s Island


Charms of lakeside resort reflected in rustic cabins


COOK, Minn. — From the screened porch of my cabin, I hear a speedboat jumping across the water before it roars past, sparkling in the sun. The sound fades, replaced by waves splashing onto the shore, the trill of birdsong and the brush-crunching of squirrels.

I am at a charming lakeside cabin that feels like it has been in my family for 50 years.   The reality: It has been just one day.

The weathered old beauty called Sun Up, built in 1947, sits shrouded by trees on an island in Vermilion Lake, part of Ludlow’s Island Resort.   Of course, if Sun Up were my  cabin, I wouldn’t be able to schedule a massage in a clapboard building just down a gravel path. Or have my luggage and groceries delivered via boat by chipper teenagers. Or send the girls to a pizza-and-movie night.  Clearly, renting has its privileges.


PHOTOS (above)This cabin, named Dawn,was buil    1955 at Ludlow’s Island Resort. A series of doors creates a wall of windows with a view of the lake

A youngster concentrates while fishing from a dock on a summer day at Ludlow’s Island Resort.

Before I booked Ludlow’s, I had done my research. I wanted a cabin that felt alone in the woods, where rustic referenced its timbered charm without sacrificing modern comforts, where I could canoe or swim or maybe do nothing at all.

When I pulled into the driveway of Ludlow’s, I knew my research had paid off.

Paul Ludlow, son of longtime owners Mark and Sally Ludlow, gave us a tour of the island. Here was a pantry, where guests mark their purchases on a pad using something as quaint as the cabins themselves: the honor system.

Here, hydrobikes and canoes; there, a game room and a lodge with cushy sofas.

The cabins of the resort are scattered across three pieces of land, the centerpiece of which is a 5-acre island on Minnesota’s sprawling, pristine Vermilion Lake, named after the red color of its sunsets.

So circuitous is Vermilion’s 1,000-plus miles of shoreline that on a map, it looks more like a ragtag collection of ponds and lakes than a single body of water. That shape benefits Ludlow’s.

Back in 1907, when the only access to the area was by boat from Tower, Joseph Burr Ludlow encountered the tree-covered island punctuated by granite outcroppings, fell hard and bought what came to be known as Ludlow’s Island.

Joseph’s son, Hod, built the first cabin there in 1933.

Slowly, the family handcrafted other cabins, making sure none sits too close to another. The pathway that rings the island runs behind the now 21 cabins rather than along the shoreline. The result is a sense of solitude from each distinct abode.

On Monday morning, the first of my visit, I awoke to find a newspaper delivered to the door, along with a printout from Ludlow’s staff with what I considered the truly relevant news of the day: the weather forecast and a list of events available during the week.

I would skip the 8 a.m. yoga class (this was vacation, after all), but the children clamored to attend s’mores on the beach. We’d forgo the fishing contest, preferring to focus our efforts above the water, tooling around on hydrobikes.

Then a massage in a pretty building with a fireplace and aromatherapy.

I spent most of my time lounging by the water or reading a book in the cabin, even with the scheduled events run by Ludlow’s capable staff. The children played in the water, scaling the floating inflatable iceberg, and wandering the island.

One sunny day, we hopped on a pontoon for a tour of the islands. Paul led the way, showing us particularly fruitful fishing spots.

We spied an eagle high in a treetop, and Paul passed binoculars all around. After a few minutes the bird flew away, returning to its nest, I suppose.

When Paul powered up the motor to head back, I felt I was returning to my summer nest, too.


   Minnesota Lakes    Minnesota has a number of lakeside resorts for escape. Here are a few.   

Ludlow’s Island Resort, near Cook; 1-877-583-5697 or http://www.ludlows   

Burntside Lodge, in Ely; 218-365-3894 or   

Camp Van Vac, near Ely; 218-365-3782 or   

Crow Wing Crest Resort, Akele; 1-800-279-2754 or http://www.crowwing. com   

Northern Pine Lodge, near Park Rapids; 218-732-5103 or www.   

Sugar Beach Resort, Tofte; 218-663-7595, http://www.toftesugarbeach. com


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: