Midwest Living Review
The Patten Homestead feels like the snowy setting of "Narnia." Giant Belgian horses pull sleighs down lantern-lit trails through a gorgeously flocked forest. The jingles and creaks of the sleigh join the clip-clop rhythm of the horses as you glide along. A round of "Jingle Bells" is inevitable. Mark Patten, the guide, knows every verse and can sing many more songs about sleigh rides. He and his wife, Nancy, run Okontoe, a Christian camp, in the summer, then welcome winter visitors from across the world to their remote acreage along Minnesota's Gunflint Trail and Bow Lake. It's an idyllic setting for 45-minute rides through the winter forest. Even with the modern wonders of hand-warmers and heaps of wool blankets and quilts, it can be numbing on the coldest nights. That's why the rides include sitting down with Nancy's homemade hot cocoa in the Patten's hand-hewn 1907 log cabin. With candlelight and lanterns, tin cups, bowls of marshmallows and a checkered tablecloth, the Pattens cast a spell of timelessness and a quieter era. They're sure, too, to warn visitors about moose on the roads as they leave. With Canada only 4 miles away (as the crow flies), this is about as far north as you can get before leaving the States. There are two to four rides nightly, Tuesday through Saturday from the second week in December through March. Early reservations recommended for Christmas through New Year's, Valentine's Day and President's Day weekend. $110 for a two-person ride to $260 for 12.