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Winter 2021/22

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SKI TRAILS Winter Destinations: SNOWSHOE THE METRO LAKE SHETEK STATE PARK SHERBURNE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE FORESTVILLE/MYSTERY CAVE STATE PARK GUNFLINT TRAIL THEODORE WIRTH PARK HEGMAN LAKE PICTOGRAPHS


Crosby - Ironton - Deerwood - Bay Lake - Cuyuna - Emily 522 Sinclair Lewis Avenue Sauk Centre, MN 56378

www.MnTrails.com Minnesota Trails Staff Jan Lasar Editor/Publisher Joyce Frericks Accounting Karen Knoblach Page Layout & Design Graphic Design

Editorial Board Brett Feldman Executive Director Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota

Vol. 26, No. 4 November 2021 Minnesota Trails magazine is a continuation of Minnesota Bike Trails & Rides, published quarterly in cooperation with the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization that acquires, protects and enhances critical lands for public enjoyment. Your $35 membership subscription supports this work. Minnesota Trails is not responsible for the return of unsolicited materials and reserves the right to reject unsuitable advertising. Information in this publication is as accurate as possible. Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not of Minnesota Trails. Continuing the

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Contents FEATURES

5 2021 Photo

Contest Winners Lisa Filter

7 Seven Great Places

to Snowshoe in the Metro Alyssa Schauer

8 Weekend at Lake

Shetek State Park Jan Lasar

11 Winter at Sherburne

National Wildlife Refuge Jan Lasar

12 Valentine’s Day at

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park Jan Lasar

14 Gunflint Trail: Gateway

to Adventure and the Wilderness of Minnesota Alyson Levig

22 Theodore Wirth Park

Winter Recreation Area Rudi Hargesheimer

28 Hegman Lake

Pictographs Zach Johns

COLUMNS

4 Minnesota Miles Jan Lasar

DEPARTMENTS

PHOTO ABOVE: Huge cottonwood trees on the Lake Side Trail at Lake Shetek State Park. Jan Lasar photo

15 2021/22 Ski Trail Guide Minnesota’s 200+ Ski Trails

27 2021/22 Winter Events Ski and Fat Bike Adventures

COVER PHOTO: Lake Bemidji State Park offers eight miles of groomed crosscountry ski trails ranging from challenging to family-friendly. Jan Lasar photo Minnesota Trails

THANK YOU:

29 MN Trails Map Minnesota’s Trails At-A-Glance

30 Trail Partners Find Trail-Friendly Businesses Winter 2021-2022 3


that introduces them to crosscountry skiing. For middle school kids we have the Junior Loppet where they meet twice a week, yearround to build outdoor skills in mountain biking, skiing, canoeing and orienteering as a team. And we’re just launching a leadership academy for high-school kids meant to create more advanced skills so they can become Claire Wilson has been the Executive coaches or work here at the Trailhead. We Director of The Loppet Foundation since have a competitive ski team, Team Birkie December of 2020. I had a chance to training for the Olympics that we operate talk to her about her new job and what’s in partnership with the Birkie Foundation next for the organization that’s been and Central Cross Country Skiing (CXC). connecting people to the outdoors for It’s a broad array of programming, but almost 20 years. it’s what’s needed in a park the size of What does The Loppet Theodore Wirth and to meet Foundation do? Minnesota Miles the needs of so many different Our primary mission users. and objective is to foster What are the challenges in a shared passion for the making all of this happen? outdoors in the Twin Cities We do depend on volunteers, with a particular focus on particularly for our events. For underserved youth. We do our youth programming we do multiple things to achieve that pay our coaches, but that has mission. In partnership with been our biggest challenge this the Minneapolis Parks and year. We’ve really struggled to Recreation Board we operate a find coaches, especially in this Jan Lasar 14,000 square foot adventure Trails Editor/Publisher time of COVID, which is actually and welcome center in why we’re launching a high Theodore Wirth Park, which is school leadership program. If anyone is known as the Trailhead. interested in volunteering, particularly as a Out of the Trailhead we operate ski and mountain bike coach, they should mountain bike trails in the summer be in touch. and fall and in the winter, of course, we The biggest challenge as well as the have over 40 kilometers of groomed biggest opportunity and gift is that COVID ski trails. That includes some loops with has sparked a lot interest in mountain artificial snow. Those trails go throughout biking and skiing and running. People Theodore Wirth Park, which at 900 acres were looking to do things outside and is close to the size of New York City’s they found us. Central Park. We span the city from North But meeting the need has been Minneapolis to Bryn Mawr and some of diffi cult with the workforce and, also, it’s the suburbs to our west. Our mission is to make this park welcome and accessible to difficult on the park and the trails. We’re trying to balance usage with assuring that all users. we have trail opportunities for beginners Can you give an overview of the and advanced skiers, so this year we’re programming the foundation offers? going to expand our snowmaking to We have activities for all ages and create more areas for beginners to abilities, especially in the winter. We have increase instructional areas and light ski school, we have a tubing hill and we some areas where we can do more have a snowboarding hill. We also run lessons in the hopes of being more open competitive and family-friendly events. and available to that level of skier. Our youth programming is the Trail Kids The Loppet Winter Festival at Theodore program, which aims to introduce kids to Wirth Park is on for February 5 and 6, skiing and mountain biking. The Loppet 2022. What can we expect? Foundation also partners with schools in Luckily, we’re going to get to go back North Minneapolis to offer non-fee based to our full festival schedule, last year it programming for elementary school kids

Checking in with Claire Wilson

4 Winter 2021-2022

was slightly truncated. We will have our full Luminary Loppet, which is both our biggest fundraiser of the year and our most well attended event. More than 14,000 people come to Lake of the Isles for the Luminary Loppet. We’ll have our full slate of races and that includes the long distance and sprint distance ski races. We have fat tire bike racing and skijoring, which is our most popular spectator event, and then the Snowshoe Loppet and the Next Generation Loppet, which are the events for the kids. What are some of the future plans for The Loppet Foundation? We have plans to expand youth programming, certainly, and the high school leadership academy is one piece of that. We’re also contemplating another bid for the Cross-Country World Cup to come to Theodore Wirth Park. We’re spending and fundraising pretty aggressively to continue to improve the park and improving our lighting systems and snowmaking to accommodate more skiers as well as creating more opportunities for urban snowboarding. We have the only urban snowboarding hill-we think in the country, but we’re going to go with at least in Minnesota. We’re working on making that more exciting and accessible. Mountain biking has been our biggest area of growth and we’ll continue to find ways to make that more accessible, particularly the youth in the neighborhoods around the park. We just continue to see trail use increase. It’s almost tripled in the last two years. How can people help with the Foundation’s efforts? We just love for people to become members. We are a member-based organization, but we are not at all exclusive. All of our events and all of our programs and all of our activities are open to the public, but we always appreciate people joining as members, and being a part of the community. Of course, anyone who is interested in donating, that donation supports youth programming and continued improvements to the park. And then volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. Come, volunteer as a coach or volunteer at one of our events. We’re committed to continuing to make these outdoor adventure opportunities available and accessible to everyone. That’s our driver and that’s going to be our primary goal moving forward. MORE INFORMATION AT: LOPPET.ORG Minnesota Trails


2021 Photo Contest First Place Winners Four categories highlight four “corners” of Minnesota

SOUTHEAST STATE PARKS:

Mike Chrun at Wild River State Park

Photographer notes: A group of friends has been having a Memorial Day picnic at Wild River for around 30 years. We were driving out of the picnic grounds as the sun was going down. A small deer went across the road in front of us and disappeared into the brush. When I stopped the car, I didn’t see the deer; but the backlit trees and bushes caught my eye.

NORTHWEST STATE PARKS:

Alison Christensen at Maplewood State Park

Photographer notes: The photo is of Beaver Lake, taken near the beginning of the Park Drive (before the one way starts). We go camping at Maplewood every fall. This day the weather had been quite drizzly and a little chilly, but in a good way, like fall is coming. It was a Monday, so almost nobody else was in the park—very quiet and peaceful. Minnesota Trails

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View all finalists at parksandtrails.org

NORTHEAST STATE PARKS: Lori Warne at Temperance River State Park Photographer notes: Taken Sept. 19, 2020 at 3:48pm from atop Carlton Peak, a place we visited last summer for the first time. We were awestruck and wanted to show our son while on our mini-fall trip. The clouds added to the shot; allowing just enough sunlight to filter through to add a softness to the landscape that created a calming; peaceful mood.

SOUTHWEST STATE PARKS:

Jon Wood at Blue Mounds State Park

Photographer notes: I’ve been hunting native orchids for a few years. This photo was taken in mid-July 2017 and it’s of the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid, which is endangered. That night was very calm with the sounds of Dickcissels singing their song across the prairie. I didn’t see the orchid here this year. There was a prescribed burn so hopefully it’ll come back soon. 6 Winter 2021-2022

Minnesota Trails


Places 7toGreat Snowshoe

LAKE REBECCA PARK RESERVE, ROCKFORD There are several places to tromp around on snowshoes The Deerwood Byhere. Alyssa Schauer Trail is a 1.3-mile loop that’s great for beginners, with few hills and diverse habitats that provide many opportunities to see wildlife. I often notice deer prancing along the trail, no matter what time I’m out there and I’ve been graced with several sightings of barred owls on this trail. | You can also venture onto the 13-mile singletrack that offers multiple loops of varying difficulty and some of the most photo-worthy spots to snap a winter pic. Near the trailhead, the path winds through a tunnel of fir trees where it feels like you’re entering the secret, magical winter wonderland of Narnia. It’s a must after a fresh snowfall. | There’s also the chance to forge your own trail across the frozen lake and explore shoreline from a new perspective. I like watching the trumpeter swans in the open water near the aeration system, honking noisily and sounding like a middle school band tuning up before a concert.

IN THE METRO AREA by Alyssa Schauer There’s nothing quite as enchanting as that first, big dump of snow each winter. Vast, untouched fields are blanketed in sparkling powder and forests of bare trees hang heavy under fresh snow as if dipped in delicious almond bark. This is what gets me out of bed early in the morning. Dressed for a frosty adventure and wearing my favorite wool socks, I trudge into the snowy expanse, the path ahead lit by the pink sunrise.

I’ve found several locations around me that offer abundant opportunities to spot wildlife and go deep into the woods to find peace in the winter wild. Here are seven of my favorite spots: LOWRY NATURE CENTER, VICTORIA This trail system provides plenty of options for choosing your own snowshoeing adventure. Take a short jaunt along the 1.1-mile Aspen Trail through forested hills and get views of Stone Lake at the overlook. | Or make it a longer trek by adding the Oak Trail (.6 mi) and the Maple Trail (1.4 mi) for a total of just over three miles. Experience the lovely stillness of a thick winter woods under giant, muscular maples and cross through frozen wetlands on the boardwalk. Watch for cheerful chickadees flitting about and listen for barred owls.

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1

ALL PHOTOS BY ALYSSA SCHAUER

BAKER PARK RESERVE, MAPLE PLAIN My favorite place to snowshoe at Baker is through the campground where you can blaze your own path under magnificent towering pines. From there, you can also access vast Lake Independence to get that wide open spaces kind of feeling. | The Evergreen Trail (1.2 mi) in the winter recreation area is another good choice, especially for novice snowshoers. The mostly flat trail offers sweeping views of the rolling countryside, and you can grab a cup of hot cocoa from the nearby chalet. Extra marshmallows, please!

4 5. FISH LAKE REGIONAL PARK, MAPLE GROVE. The big forests of this little park caught me by surprise the first time I visited. Nestled in the heart of a busy suburb, it’s the perfect spot to catch a break from the noise and submerse yourself into the wild. The 1.62-mile snowshoeing trail meanders along a forest edge and around scenic Fish Lake. On my last visit, a pink sunrise illuminated the glittering, frozen lake as if I was looking at the world through rose-tinted sunglasses. 6. EASTMAN NATURE CENTER, DAYTON. There are lots of options to snowshoe here, too, but the Meadowlark Trail (1.5 mi) is my favorite. I love how it meanders through woodlands and follows along a forested ridge where you can rest on a wooden bench at the overlook and take in the expanse that is Elm Creek Park Reserve. It’s also a great spot for birdwatching. Look for cardinals, red-bellied woodpeckers and nuthatches. If you’re lucky, you may spot wild turkeys running through the woods, too.

FRENCH REGIONAL PARK, PLYMOUTH This place is an oasis in the middle of a bustling city. My preferred spot for snowshoeing is the 30-acre nature exploration area near the sledding hill. It never fails to surprise me just how wooded this park is. Hike up steep, forested hills and get up close to dormant cattails as you venture through frozen wetlands.

3. CROW-HASSAN PARK RESERVE, HANOVER. Bask in a quiet prairie landscape at this spectacular place. There are a whopping 16 miles of trails for snowshoeing, with hills of endless prairie. You can find shelter in pockets of forest that provide reprieve from a biting winter breeze. | When I last trekked through Crow-Hassan, it was late afternoon and my snowshoeing adventure ended just in time Alyssa Schauer, Rockford, MN, is a certified Minnesota Naturalist Volunteer and enjoys to catch the golden glow of a January the great outdoors whether she’s in hiking boots, on snowshoes, pitching a tent or sunset and lavender hues of twilight. paddling her kayak. Keep up with her adventures on Instagram@traveling couchpotato. Minnesota Trails

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With just over 1,100 acres, Lake Shetek State Park in Currie, MN is a smaller park in Minnesota’s system. In fact, the lake it’s named after is three times bigger and is the main attraction for many visitors. Tucked into the southwestern corner of the state, some 40 miles from South Dakota and 20 miles from Iowa, the lake draws visitors into Minnesota from several states. Things settle down during the cold months, but the 14-mile trail network still gives you plenty to explore.

Weekend at Lake Shetek

On a cold January day, we paid a visit and stayed in one of the park’s camper cabins. We arrived in time to watch park staff dig out our cabin from under eight inches of snow. When they were done, we wasted no time, moved in, strapped on the snowshoes and went for a hike. Lucky for us, Picnic Trail passed right by our cabin and went north past the beach and the boat landing to the Loon Island Causeway. It was about 20 degrees with a stiff breeze coming off the frozen lake. The trail was mostly covered in snow, but a blizzard with 40 and 50 miles per hour wind gusts had deposited huge drifts that snaked like white fingers across the trail, some several feet thick. That’s what snowshoes are for and we got a kick out of hustling up the drifts one side and yelling “Wheee!” on the other side, like we were descending a mountain on skis. The causeway is a narrow land bridge between the state park and Loon Island with a 1,000-foot span. Here, the icy winds were howling across the skinny trail and made our eyes water. Snowshoes were useless on this stretch, because there was not a flake of snow here. We took them off 8 Winter 2021-2022

State Park

by Jan Lasar

The walk around the island was invigorating. We had first tracks through some thick drifts and trees and bushes were coated with puffy snow on the side that had faced the blizzard. and hurried across the bay. Just before we reached the island, however, it was like someone had turned off the wind tunnel machine. One second we were leaning into the arctic blast, the next minute the wind had stopped completely as if on command. Not even the grasses next to us moved. I took a few steps back and there was the wind again, in full force. Loon Island isn’t huge and the hiking trail that circles it is less than a mile long, but it’s definitely worth it. Interpretive signs will tell you about the area’s natural history and what makes Loon Island so special. The first thing you’ll learn is that Loon Island is a misnomer because people mistook the cormorants that used to nest here, for loons. You’d expect this to be a haven for cormorants, but the colony was wiped out by a special hunt, staged by area residents in the early 1900s, who felt the birds were eating too much fish

from the lake. This story makes a great argument for outdoor education and preservation, but then again, humans built the causeway we walked to get to the island to read the signs that told us how humans interfered in nature. The walk around the island was invigorating. We had first tracks through some thick drifts and trees and bushes were coated with puffy snow on the side that had faced the blizzard. It looked like fake spray snow, the kind you’d find in department store displays. It was a great snowshoe hike through basswood and hackberry forest that blocked the wind and allowed us to marvel at a beautiful winter landscape. Back at the cabin, Jen checked her Avenza tracker. We had managed to get in three miles, which was not bad for an afternoon. The next day we got going a little earlier, planned for a longer trek on snowshoes and were looking forward Minnesota Trails


Loon Island Causeway

Bluebird Trail

Shetek Monument

Koch family settler’s cabin

to a high temperature of around 30 degrees. Leaving from our cabin again, we headed east this time, on Monument Trail. Snowmobiles had flattened out most of the drifts, so the going was a little easier this time around. The Lake Shetek Monument the trail is named after, marks the graves of 15 settlers who were killed by Dakota warriors in 1862. (To learn more about the US-Dakota war, visit www.usdakotawar.org) Here, we turned east to round the northern edge of Smith Lake, then north after getting on the Bluebird Trail. We fully expected to get a full blast of cold air on the Bluebird Trail since it goes north through wide-open prairie and it was a windy day. As soon Minnesota Trails

Lake Side Trail Winter 2021-2022 9


as we stepped on the trail, however, the sun broke out from behind grey clouds and the wind turned out not to be a big deal as we soaked up the rays. We stopped briefly to take in the views of Eastlick Marsh from a raised platform and headed back into the woods to take a break at the group camp area. My favorite part of winter trail breaks is the little stove I made from two pop cans, with YouTube instructions. The whole kit, fuel, coffee, filter, stand and a windscreen packs into a little pot and within 10 minutes we had a pint of steaming, hot coffee. We continued on the Park Lake Trail where we passed by the former site of a settler’s cabin-now just a depression in the frozen ground-and flushed out a herd of deer, that scattered across Park Lake, some two dozen strong. After making the connection to Lake Side Trail on the other side of Park Lake, we shoed through a winter wonderland with deep snows, followed by another half mile of huge drifts and some of the biggest cottonwood trees we’ve ever seen. We turned back

One of four camper cabins at Lake Shetek State Park

south on Fish Pond Trail and from there bushwhacked our way past the Koch pioneer cabin back to our cabin. An hour later we had a fire going and enjoyed the last bit of daylight and mild temps. We watched the sun go down over Lake Shetek while the flames danced in the fire pit.

As dusk came, the lights in the houses across the lake blinked on one by one while we enjoyed another quiet night in our own palace for rent.

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ExploreSouther nMinnesota.com

EXPLORE MINNESOTA TOURISM AND MN TRAILS PHOTOS 10 Winter 2021-2022

Minnesota Trails


WINTER

Follow Distracted Naturalist on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit his blog and store at www. distractednaturalist.com

by Jan Lasar

Minnesota Trails

at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge The central Minnesota town of Zimmerman fits into its giant neighbor, the 30,000-acre Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge more than a dozen times. Here, about 40 miles northwest of the Twin Cities an interesting mix of landscapes awaits nature lovers, especially birdwatchers. Tallgrass prairie, marsh, forest and one of the most expansive swaths of oak savanna in the Midwest provide habitat for a variety of animals, but the annual fall migration of Sandhill Cranes is the busiest time of the year, both for visitors and the elegant birds who can congregate by the thousands. Most of the refuge is designated a wildlife sanctuary and is off limits to humans for a large portion of the year, but some areas like the Blue Hill Trail are open year round. Jen and I met up with Greg Feinberg on a crisp Sunday morning at the Blue Hill Trail parking lot. Greg is a naturalist at Westwood Nature Center in St. Louis Park and goes by the handle of Distracted Naturalist. He turns his field observations into colorful art and has been my go-to for identifying bugs, mosses, lichen, fungi and other often-overlooked organisms. The idea was really just to go for a walk on a sunny winter day to get some exercise, and have him point out all the things we step on, overlook or ignore as we tromp through the woods. It’s always enlightening. The Blue Hill Trail is a series of three loops totaling five miles through relatively flat terrain. The only exception is the actual Blue Hill, which the kiosk in the parking lot told me sticks out 90 feet from the surrounding area and consists of glacial till deposited here by glaciers some 12,000 years ago. And, just like the sign said, the hike up the hill was steep, and a little slick on the way down, but the views off the observation deck were worth it.

We continued on through clusters of oak trees on a packed trail that had seen lots of foot traffic even though the last snowfall happened less than 24 hours ago. Soon, we entered a stand of coniferous trees. It seemed at odds with the oak savanna we had been hiking through and was likely planted. Our best guess is that this stand of pine predates the establishment of the refuge in 1965. After the pine stands we came closer to Buck Lake and the scenery changed once again, this time to snow-covered prairie with the occasional shrub and small oak poking through the white crust. Farther north, past the lake, the oaks were taking over again with their naked, gnarled branches reaching into the blue skies. Some of the trunks were charred from what we later learned was prescribed burns to keep the savanna ecosystem healthy. “I’m curious to know if all the shrub-sized oaks are a result of the burn,” Greg said. “Were they planted, or sprouted once buckthorn was removed?” After three hours and a five-mile walk, we were back at the parking lot, which was now filled with cars. However, we had only seen about a half dozen other visitors while we were out. “It was pretty quiet, critter-wise,” Greg said and talked about the fox and coyote tracks, chickadees, nuthatches and beaver lodges he saw along the way. He also mentioned the smooth patch fungus he spotted on the trunk of one oak, his favorite species. “Out of all Minnesota trees they seem to have the most fungal associations, biggest variety of galls and caterpillars,” he said. “Plus they look cool and sort of seem ‘magical’.” I, of course, saw none of these things, but was happy to get a walk in, soak up the sun on a winter day and hopefully retain some of what I learned. And, yes, oak trees are cool.

Sources: fws.gov/refuge/sherburne

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Valentines’ Day at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park is neatly tucked into the Root River Valley in Minnesota’s Bluff Country in the southeastern part of the state. Here, hikers and horseback riders have 20 miles of trails to explore, anglers come to fish for trout, the history buff can get a close look at a historic village and the adventurous go caving. It’s quieter in the winter, and on occasion, the entire park can be yours—especially on the coldest weekend of the year. My wife, Jen, and I arrived a little bit after 1 pm and checked in at the office to get the key. The cluster of five cabins is laid out very nicely, far enough apart

a neck gaiter, a wool hat, two hoods, wool socks, boots rated to minus 40 degrees, a blanket and sat by a ripping, hot fire large enough to be visible from space. It wasn’t easy, but it worked. The next day we got serious about our walk, bundled up and snowshoed the Hiking Club Trail, which starts near the cabins and makes an irregular loop in the center of the park. We went counter-clockwise past the amphitheater and dropped down to the Root River near the tent camping sites. We were surprised to see some open water on the river, bubbling along nicely under its icy crust. Just across from the tent sites, tall, naked limestone bluffs rose up, topped with conifers. The whole scene was wonderful, but at negative 15 degrees, stopping too long meant getting cold, so we kept moving. Soon, we passed by the ranger station and began to climb the hills of the Maple Ridge Trail Loop. The branches were naked, but the wintery forest made for some great photo ops. Taking pictures meant taking off the mitts, unzipping the coat, taking out the camera, fiddling with the controls, taking the shot and doing the whole thing in reverse. After huffing up a steep hill, we walked along the ridge this trail was named for, but it soon dropped straight down again, very drastically. 16-year-

Palisade Loop

by Jan Lasar

and shielded by conifers and occasional oak trees. I imagine with leaves on the trees and all the grasses surrounding the cabins fully grown, there’s even more privacy. We parked and hauled our things to the Lily cabin with the carts provided by the park. The heat was on, thanks to the thoughtful park staff, and we began to settle in. The idea was to snowshoe, have a fire and make dinner, in that order. When we sat at the table to have a look at the map, the long week and the long drive caught up with us. We ended up just staring out the window at the frozen grasses, the snow-capped trees and the warm sun bouncing off the fresh snow. The silence was interrupted only by the occasional tick of the electric heater and the call of one lone chickadee, working hard to get some thistle seed in sub-zero temperatures. Later, a few deer cautiously poked their heads out of the nearby woods. The snowshoe walk was doomed, but it didn’t matter. The purpose of this trip was to get outside, as much as it was to leave our midwinter cocoon and return home as mentally stable butterflies, with all traces of cabin fever gone. So, we played Yahtzee and enjoyed each other’s company until it was time to light the bonfire. We each wore a base layer, a mid layer, insulated jeans, three coats, two pairs of gloves,

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Minnesota Trails


old me would not have hesitated to schuss down this perfect sledding hill at Mach 8. But almost-50-year-old, brittle-boned me, who’s responsible for his own medical bills, was content to just imagine it. This three-mile hike took us about an hour and 45 minutes. Back at the cabin, we peeled off our layers, happy to have a warm place to return to. Because it was Valentine’s Day, I cooked steak and baked potatoes over the fire—per request. Monday morning wasn’t quite as cold, only about minus 10 degrees. Temperatures soon soared to 2 degrees above zero and we decided to check out the short Palisade Trail Loop, which is not connected to the rest of the trail system. To get there we needed to leave the park by car to reach a small parking lot off a gravel road. The Palisade Trail is not even a mile long, but it packs a lot of scenery. Nobody had been there in a while, so we were breaking trail through fresh snow bathed in bright sunshine. A short, steep drop took us to the flat river bottom and the trail soon followed the banks of the Root River’s southern branch. The water wasn’t much more than a foot deep and we were able to see the rocky riverbed through breaks in the ice. Tall limestone bluffs rose up on the other

Maple Ridge Trail

side of the river and made for a very impressive backdrop. Down in this valley there was no wind and despite the freezing temperatures it was warm enough to unzip the coat and drop the hood. We stopped and took in the scenery. It was wonderful to feel the warm sun and listen to the gurgling river, but we regretted not bringing a picnic lunch. From a plaque in the parking lot we learned that this parcel was added to the park in 2012. Joseph and Roene Vreeman had farmed nearby and passed the property on to their children who decided to donate it so others could enjoy this unique piece of land as much as their parents did. I always feel encouraged when I learn there are people out there who appreciate special places not for their dollar value, but for what it means for all of us to have access to them.

It’s quieter in the winter, and on occasion, the entire park can be yours—especially on the coldest weekend of the year.

Minnesota Trails

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&

Gateway to

Adventure the Wilderness

of Minnesota

THE GUNFLINT TRAIL IN MINNESOTA’S ARROWHEAD REGION IS A 57-MILE, PAVED SCENIC BYWAY THAT’S BEEN A STARTING POINT FOR OUTDOOR ENTHUSIASTS FOR DECADES. It starts on the outskirts of Grand Marais and ends at Trail’s End Campground, just shy of the USCanada border. It’s the gateway to the undeveloped Northern Minnesota Wilderness with numerous trailheads, lodges, outfitters and public water accesses along the way. Beginning in the 1700s, the Ojibwe inhabited the land surrounding the trail. They lived on what they could harvest from the streams, rivers and lakes and eventually traded furs with the French from Montreal. Along this route, the discovery of a jet black stone known as chert, or flint, gave the lake we know today as Gunflint Lake its name. Later, in the 1900s, the road was paved and by the 1920s, the first resorts lined the trail. Over the years the improved Gunflint Trail has brought a new kind of explorer to the once very remote areas of the Minnesota Arrowhead. My husband and I fall into this category, which is why we dedicated a day of our honeymoon solely to the famous County Road 12, with a twist: We visited in the winter. Just north of the town of Grand Marais a small water tower displaying the byway logo welcomes visitors to the start of the scenic route as it snakes up the first mountain. The Pincushion Mountain recreation area was our 14 Winter 2021-2022

first stop after just a few miles. The 15-mile trail system at Pincushion Mountain brings many visitors to this part of the Superior National Forest. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough snow to have to unpack the snowshoes, but we went for a walk instead. The trails at Pincushion Mountain can be narrow and rugged or wide and open, ranging from easy to difficult, and some access the Superior Hiking Trail. In the warmer months, these trails are great for a hike or mountain bike ride. In the winter, they convert to snowshoe, fatbike and cross-country skiing trails. We enjoyed this area because of how quickly we were immersed in nature. The breeze through the trees, the singing winter birds, and the snow crunching beneath our feet is all we heard. From the scenic overlook at the parking lot you get a wonderful view of Grand Marais and you can see Highway 61 disappear into the distance as it travels north up the shore. The extended panorama view of Lake Superior, with the mix of blue, white, and dark green, paints a picture worth coming back for. We were curious and excited about our next stop, the Moose Viewing Trail, just 22 miles up the Gunflint. This mile-long loop connects to a small side trail leading to a swampy area where moose tend to cool off during the hot summer months. It was winter, of course, but that didn’t mean we were any less excited about seeing a real, live moose. We hiked slowly and quietly and the lack of sound was deafening at times, when neither of us moved. A viewing platform marked the end of the trail, roughly 50 yards from a frozen swamp. We waited here for a while, patiently, hoping to hear or see something other than birds. The anticipation of seeing a moose had our minds racing: How would we react? What if we witness one shed its antlers? On our way back we found some moose tracks, but that’s as close as we came to seeing the giant creatures. Despite our lack of success, the mixed

by Alyson Levig

coniferous forest provided gorgeous views along the loop. Continuing onward up the byway, we stopped at Honeymoon Bluff—for obvious reasons. It’s a short and steep climb, but the views are quite worth it. Because compacted snow and ice completely submerged the existing stairs, we really had to watch our step. Luckily there was enough brush along the sides of the trail to steady ourselves during the ascent. Once at the top, a path circled the entire bluff, allowing us multiple views of Hungry Jack Lake. Despite the gloomy, overcast day, we still enjoyed the panoramic view of deep-green trees against the peaceful, snow-covered landscape. We recommend this hike for a sunrise or sunset stop or for leaf peeping. We took a few pictures of ourselves at the Trails End Campground sign, watched a few ice fishers begin their journey across a nearby frozen lake, then headed back down the trail to our final stop. George Washington Memorial Pines is just 6 miles north of Grand Marais. The 3-mile level terrain loop is an old road through a seemingly endless stand of white and Norway pines, planted by Boy Scouts after a wildfire in the 1930s in honor of the 1st president of the United States. Here, the pines blocked out the sound of the scenic byway traffic as well as darkened the overcast sunlight into the forest, creating a quiet atmosphere. The hike was a good one to end on. We took in the pine scent with every breath and the magnificent views of enormous pines awed us into silence. Though the famous Gunflint Trail may only seem to be a warm month getaway, the views and natural beauty are still present in the winter. There’s less traffic and fewer people, and you can still learn about the wildlife and explore the ecosystem within this Minnesota Wilderness. Between pine-tree hideaways, birch forests, rugged bluffs and mountains, long and short trails, and access to many lakes, the Gunflint is open yearround to anyone who wants to explore. Minnesota Trails


2021/22

MINNESOTA

SKI TRAIL GUIDE

Along the North Shore of Lake Superior, throughout the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, to the Chippewa National Forest, northeastern Minnesota offers some of the biggest snowfalls in Minnesota and many well-groomed trail systems. Biwabik | Giants Ridge 60km - All levels, US Ski Team training center using the Superior National Forest with views and roller coaster rides. 3km lit for Nordic skiing and some of the trails can be reached by a chairlift. Brimson | Mother Bear Ski Trail 10km - Classic ski trail through jackpine forests, black spruce swamps and over glacial eskers, with lots of wildlife viewing opportunities. MN Ski Pass required. Carlton | Jay Cooke State Park 51km - Beginner to advanced with a wide variety of trails, some along the St. Louis River. Warming shelter with a woodstove and bathrooms is open seven days a week. MN Ski Pass required. Chisholm | Sturgeon River Trail 35km - Excellent beginner trail for classic skiing in the Superior National Forest. Long stretches of solitary trails. Two Adirondack shelters, groomed, scenic views of Sturgeon Rneiver. Groomed occasionally. Cloquet | Pine Valley Ski Trails 10km - Intermediate to advanced, challenging with difficult climbs, yet gradual, rolling sections. Partially lit, adjacent to Cloquet recreation center. 2.5k lighted. The back of the 5K loop across Spring Lake Road is skate and classic groomed. Coleraine | Itasca Trails (Mount Itasca) 10km - Beginner to expert, groomed for skate and classic skiing on flat to very hilly terrain. Heated chalet available. MN Ski Pass required on west public trails. Additional fee for east biathlon course with snowmaking. Minnesota Trails

SKI TRAIL GUIDE Cohasset Area • Minnesota Power/Blackwater Trails 4km - Beginner trails groomed for skate and classic skiing. Lighted. MN Ski Pass required. • Portage Park 4km - Beginner classic trails near the Mississippi River. MN Ski Pass required. Cook | Ashawa Nordic Ski Trails 20km - The Ashawa Trail Ski Club maintains 20km of trails north of Cook. Trails are set for classic ski only and accessible from three separate trailheads and maps are available at the Crescent Bar and Grill north of Cook, MN. • Paddy’s Loop - Located 3.8 miles north of Cook on E. Olson Road, this easy to moderate classic ski trail originates and terminates at the Crescent Bar and Grill on East Olson Road. Trails are primarily on flat terrain through a mature black spruce forest and on parts of the Vermilion Fairways Golf Course. Total distance is 5 km. • Wood Loop - Located 6 miles north of Cook on Co. Rd. 24. Look for the signed parking lot on the west side of the road just before Pehrson’s Resort. The complete Wood Loop is 8 km of moderate skiing through a mix of young and mature stands of aspen, ash, pine and spruce. One-way trails have two long, sloping downhill opportunities. A shelter on Beatty Hill offers a view of Cook and the surrounding area. • Sunset Loop - Located 9 miles north of Cook on Co. Rd. 24, 1/2 mile north of Raps Road. Look for the parking lot on the west side of the road. Sunset Loop offers moderate to advanced levels of skiing. A number of hills and a view of Sunset Lake make for an exciting 7 km of diverse terrain skiing. Deer River Area • Blueberry Hills 12km - Beginner to expert with many loops, five miles northeast of Deer River. Heated chalet available. MN Ski Pass required. • Amen Lake Trail 7km - Intermediate, groomed, classic ski trail 13 miles north of Grand Rapids. Ski through hardwood forest with rolling hills. Connects to south end of Suomi Hills ski trails near Marcell. MN Ski Pass required.

Northeast:

MILES OF TRAILS Duluth Area: • Bagley Nature Area 2.7km - Two Intermediate, classic loops on the UMD campus. • Biskey Ponds Trails 12km - Beginner to advanced classic ski trails through a scenic landscape with a near-wilderness feel, just north of Fish Lake Reservoir. Five distinct loops. • Boulder Lake 21km - Beginner to advanced, 11km of skate ski. Wolfski’s Ski Den warming shack is open sunrise to sunset. Groomed regularly for classic and skate ski, very well maintained by Minnesota Power. • Chester Bowl Park 3km - Intermediate to advanced cross country ski trails and downhill skiing. Chalet and ski rentals available. MN Ski Pass required. • Hartley Park 5km - Beginner to intermediate with some gentle slopes. Classic only. Equipment rentals available. Home to Hartley Nature Center. MN Ski Pass required. • Korkki Nordic 11km - Intermediate to advanced single track classic trails, groomed daily. Steep hills, designed for racing. MN Ski Pass required. • Lester-Amity Trail 15km - Beginner to advanced trail of varied terrain through pine, aspen, and birch forests. Additional 3km circles the Lester Park Golf Course and 5km trail lit mornings and evenings. Chalet available. MN Ski Pass required. • Magney-Snively Park 14km - Intermediate to advanced, beautiful hardwood forest with large hills. A rugged trail not recommended for beginners. • Piedmont Trail 5km - Beginner to intermediate trail through aspen, birch and hardwood forest. Beautiful overlook of St. Louis River Valley. MN Ski Pass required. • Snowflake Nordic Ski Center 15km - Intermediate classic and skate ski trails, groomed daily. Lessons and rentals available. Warming chalet with showers, sauna, changing rooms, lounge, and snacks. • Spirit Mountain 24.5km - Spirit Mountain has two crosscountry ski areas for all skill levels. The upper trail system consists of 22km of beautifully wooded cross-country ski trails. The new Grand Ave. Nordic Center on the bottom of the hill is a work in progress, but it currently has 2.5km of nordic trail, 1.5 of which have snowmaking. All trails are groomed daily and the Grand Ave. Chalet offers rentals, lessons and a restaurant.

Ski Trail Guide Sources: Minnesota DNR, Minnesota Nordic Ski Association, Skinnyski & Individual Trails. Before traveling to a ski venue check local trail conditions. Find more info and maps at www.mntrails.com/ski-trails PHOTO BY JAN LASAR

Group ski at Cascade River State Park Winter 2021-2022 15


Northeast

SKI TRAIL GUIDE

Ely Area

Grand Marais Area

• Bear Head Lake State Park 11km - Beginner trails through boreal forest circling Norberg Lake, groomed for classic ski. Trail Center with toilets, water and warming house. MN Ski Pass required. • Hidden Valley Trails 25km - Beginner to advanced, groomed, classic and skate trails. Rolling to hilly terrain, through birch and pine stands. Connects to Silver Rapids Ski Trail. MN Ski Pass required. https://www.elynordic.org/cross-countryski-trails • Silver Rapids Ski Trail 8km - Classic-groomed trail. Scenic overlook at Farm Lake, access behind Fall Lake Town Hall. Connects to Hidden Valley Trails. MN Ski Pass required. https://www.elynordic.org/cross-countryski-trails • Trezona Ski Trail 6.5km - Beginner trail groomed for classic and skate ski. Relatively flat with some rolling terrain. Starts in town, circles Miner’s Lake with views of remains of Pioneer Mine. https://www.elynordic.org/cross-countryski-trails

• Pincushion Mountain Trails 25km - Beginner to advanced, well designed classic and skate trail two miles north of Grand Marais with beautiful Lake Superior views and separate snowshoe trail. 1.6km lighted trail. MN Ski Pass required. • George Washington Pines Winter Recreation Trail 3km - Groomed for classic and skate skiing. Skijorers and walkers may use the skate ski lane. Just 6 miles north of Grand Marais along the Gunflint Trail in the George Washington Memorial Forest. • Central Gunflint Trail System 77km - All skill levels. An extensive ski trail system 30 miles north of Grand Marais and close to BWCAW. Connects to the eastern end of the 27-km Banadad Trail via Poplar Creek and Lace Lake trails. Lighted sections at Bearskin and Golden Eagle Lodges. Grooming is shared by local lodges, so skiers need to purchase a trail pass.

• Banadad Trail 27km - The longest tracked ski trail through the BWCAW is a true wilderness experience on its own, but it also connects two major ski trail systems, the Central and Upper Gunflint Ski Trails. Eastern end: Here the Banadad connects to the Lace Lake Trail (5km), the Tim Knopp Trail (3 km) and the Tall Pines Trail (3 km). The Lace Lake Trail provides access to the Poplar Creek Trail and the Central Gunflint Trail system. Park at about 30 miles up the Gunflint Trail (County Rd. 12), from Grand Marais, just off Little Ollie Road.Western end: Parking is available just off County Rd. 12, at fire #10045, about 10 miles from the eastern trailhead. Currently, there is no direct connection to the Upper Gunflint Trail system, but it’s only about a mile away. MN Ski Pass and Boundary Waters permit needed. • Upper Gunflint Trail System 45km - All levels, 45 miles north of Grand Marais. These trails near the Canadian border and BWCAW are mostly classic trails with some skate skiing. Grooming is done by local lodges, so skiers need to purchase a trail pass. Access to the 27-km Banadad Trail is close by, but no direct connection exists.

Find More Information at www.mntrails.com/ski-trails

trails for miles.

LITERALLY. WE HAVE HUNDREDS OF ‘EM.

>> Get out and adventure. Escape to Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. Winter is a great time to explore the region’s uunique landscape. Enjoy our well-groomed XC ski trails, snowshoe at Redhead and take in the region’s unique lodging, shopping and dining experiences.

AURORA

BIWABIK

BUHL

CHISHOLM

EMBARRASS

EVELETH

GILBERT

HIBBING

HOYT LAKES

MOUNTAIN IRON

VIRGINIA

Goodland | Big Ridge Trail 10km - Intermediate, groomed, classic ski trail near Goodland, MN, about 23 miles southeast of Grand Rapids. Ski rolling hills through hardwood, evergreens and young aspen. MN Ski Pass required.

• Bally Creek Trails 25km - A series of short to medium length, easy to intermediate loops in the Superior National Forest. A long connector trail to Cascade River State Park is groomed when conditions allow. MN Ski Pass required.

2021/22

16 Winter 2021-2022

Minnesota Trails


2021/22 Grand Rapids Area • Alder Pond Trail 10km - Beginner, groomed classic ski trail through aspen and coniferous forest. MN Ski Pass required. • Golden Anniversary State Forest • Cowhorn Lake Trail 8km - Intermediate, classic ski trail with rolling hills through old growth aspen forest. Intersects Boomer Blue Trail. MN Ski Pass required. • Boomer-Blue Trail 7km - Beginner, classic ski trail, doubletracked with snowshoe lane. Dogs are allowed. Intersects Cowhorn loop. MN Ski Pass required. • River Road Trail 3km - Intermediate, classic ski trail with rolling hills through majestic pines. MN Ski Pass required. • Forest History Center 4km - Beginner, classic ski trail through 1900s logging camp and virgin timber forest. MN Ski Pass required on one main trail. • Legion Park Trail 4km - Intermediate trail, groomed for both classic and skate skiing near Grand Rapids High School. 3 km lit. MN Ski Pass required. • Sugar Hills 28km - Intermediate to expert trail, groomed for both classic and skate skiing on hilly terrain through hardwood forest. Thunder Mountain provides excellent panoramic views. MN Ski Pass required. • Sylvan Point Trail 6km - Beginner classic trail. Connects Grand Itasca Hospital to Forest History Center. • U of M 8km - Easy loops on the campus of the U of M North Central Research & Outreach Center through Black Spruce bog and Minnesota’s oldest Red Pine research plantation. • Wabana Trail 10km - Intermediate, classic trail, winds through scenic, rolling hills. MN Ski Pass required. Hibbing | Carey Lake 22km - Beginner to advanced groomed trails with 10km side by side classic and skate skiing with views of the lake, lowlands, bogs, and jack pine stands. 3.8 km Black Forest loop is lit from 5-10 pm daily. Hinckley | St. Croix State Park 17km - Groomed, classic ski trail with many loops for all skill levels. A warming house with fireplaces is available. MN Ski Pass required. Hoyt Lakes | Bird Lake Trail 19km - Beginner to advanced trail over birch and aspen hills with views of Bird and Lillian Lakes. One-way trail with some loops. International Falls Area • Tilson Creek Ski Trail 16km - Intermediate, groomed, classic and skate trails in the Koochiching State Forest. MN Ski Pass required. Minnesota Trails

Northeast

SKI TRAIL GUIDE • Voyageurs National Park 53km - This National Park has three trail systems: Black Bay Trails, three loops totaling 13km. A 1km trail connects to Tilson Creek Trails. Access to Black Bay Trails is at Rainy Lake Visitor Center via Rainy Lake Ice Road. Echo Bay Trail, a 4km loop. Access through Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center. Kab-Ash Trail, a 35km system. Access near Ash River Visitor Center. Isabella | Flathorn Gegoka Trail 30km - Beginner to advanced, groomed, single tracked in the Superior National Forest near Isabella, MN. Some paths on old logging roads. Accommodations are available at National Forest Lodge. MN Ski Pass required. Marcell Area • Suomi Hills 30km - Easy, groomed ski trail on rolling hills through the Chippewa National Forest. Connects with Amen Lake Trail. • Trout Lake 17.7km - Easy classic ski trail through the Chippewa National Forest. 3 miles from historic Joyce Estate, a National Historic Site. Mora | Vasaloppet Nordic Center Trails 15km - Classic and skate ski trails and 5km lit trails start and end at Vasaloppet Nordic Ski Center which offers waxing room, showers, sauna, and is open daily throughout the season. Mora | Warman Public Ski Area (Northern Practice Loop) 7.6 km - Appropriate for beginners, mostly flat with some nice, rolling hills. Groomed at least weekly during the ski season for both skate and classic. Remote and primitive, but a lovely place to ski about 12 miles north of Mora. Nashwauk | Stoney Ridge Trail 10km - Intermediate trails, groomed for classic skiing. Mostly flat with a few rolling hills through woods. MN Ski Pass required. Silver Bay Area • Tettegouche State Park 25km - Intermediate to advanced, classic trails with many loops and good views of lakes and hills. About 6km of skate ski trail. Four historic ski-in cabins at Mic Mac Lake. Take a side trip to 70-foot High Falls on the Baptism River. Warming house is the lodge at Tettegouche Camp. MN Ski Pass required. • Northwoods Ski Trail 19km - Intermediate, groomed singletrack, classic trail through an intimate wooded setting, following the contours of rolling hills. Trail travels past Bean and Bear Lakes. A connector trail to Tettegouche State Park is groomed when conditions allow. Trailhead is on the west edge of Silver Bay, past the Superior Hiking Trail trailhead on Penn Boulevard/County Rd 11. Access is on the right at Beaver River. Tofte/Lutsen Area • Sugarbush Trail System 65km - Extensive trail network for all skill levels. Groomed for both classic and skate skiing with spectacular views of Lake Superior. Some trails allow skijoring. Clubhouse trailhead offers ski rentals. Parking at Britton Peak, Onion River Road and Moose Fence trailheads. MN Ski Pass required.

• Norpine Trail System 58km - Groomed for both classic and skate ski with resorts along the way. Includes the Massie and Hall loops and Deer Yard Lake and Cascade trails. Connects to trails inside Cascade River State Park to the east. MN Ski Pass required. • Lutsen Mountains 3 km - Cross-country ski trail on Ullr Mountain. Ski from base area out and back or ride chairlift to top of Ullr Mountain and enjoy the added glide of ‘more down than up’. Pass includes one chairlift ride. FEE applies. • Cascade River State Park 27km - Beginner to advanced, classic, single tracked, groomed weekly. Heavily forested trails along Cascade River and several little creeks. Spot moose and wolves down the river valley from Lookout Mountain. Woodheated warming house available. Connects with Cascade trail system to the west and Bally Creek Trails to the east. MN Ski Pass required. Tower | Howard Wagoner Trail 11.5km - Four distinct loops. Beginner to intermediate trails through pine forest, groomed for classic ski only.1.3km lighted loop. The main trail system has some steep hills. The north trailhead is at the intersection of Enterprise Drive and County Road 135. Skiers can connect to the main system from here via a one-way trail or park at the south lot or access the trail at the south lot about a mile south on County Road 135. MN Ski Pass required. Two Harbors Area • Gooseberry Falls State Park 19km - Groomed, classic ski trail with many loops on gradual hills and unique views of frozen waterfalls. Ski over the bridge at Fifth Falls. MN Ski Pass required. • Erkki Harju Ski Trail 10.5km - Intermediate, groomed, classic and skate trail through scenic city forest. 3km lit until 10 pm daily. MN Ski Pass required. Virginia | Big Aspen Recreation Area 33km - Beginner to intermediate classic trail with shelters and a beautiful overlook on old logging roads and abandoned railroad grades of the Virginia and Rainy Lake Lumber Co.

Open O pen yyear ear rround ound

minutes from cross-country ski, fat tire bike and snowshoe trails.

2810 Meyers Bay Road, Grand Rapids, MN 218-999-5795 • www.greenheronbandb.com Winter 2021-2022 17


Northwest:

PLENTY OF CHOICES

SKI TRAIL GUIDE

From the edge of Lake of the Woods to the Headwaters of the Mississippi, northwestern Minnesota offers the widest variety of crosscountry ski trails in the state.

• Movil Maze 14km - Intermediate to advanced, classic and skate. Steep and rolling hills through black spruce bog, red pines and hardwoods. MN Ski Pass required.

Bemidji Area

• Three Island Lake County Park 25km - Beginner to intermediate, groomed classic and skate with beautiful views of Three Island Lake and Turtle River. MN Ski Pass required.

• Buena Vista Ski Area 25km - Intermediate to advanced loops through woods in a privately owned ski resort since 1949 with downhill skiing, snowboarding, tubing, sleigh rides, replica logging village, large lodge, kitchen and shops. MN Ski Pass required. • C.V. Hobson Forest Trail 7km - Beginner, groomed for classic. Red and white pine and tamarack bog along Lake Lyra. MN Ski Pass required. • Fern Lake Trail 3.5km - Intermediate to advanced, groomed classic ski trail. MN Ski Pass required. • High School Trail (Lumberjack Trail) 6.5km - Easy beginner trail, groomed classic and skate. MN Ski Pass required. • Lake Bemidji State Park 13km - Beginner to advanced, four loops, groomed double classic near Lake Bemidji. MN Ski Pass required. • Montebello Trail 4km - Gentle beginner course in the city of Bemidji with 2km of lighted trail. MN Ski Pass required.

ONE STEP FOR ME

2021/22

Callaway | Maplelag Resort 64km - All levels, many well groomed loops through maple forest with rolling hills. Mostly classic trails with some skate ski in a privately owned cross-country ski resort. Detroit Lakes Area • Detroit Mountain 7km - Beginner to advanced ski trails ranging from skate and classic to classic only. Detroit Mountain’s lodge has bathrooms, changing rooms and a restaurant with a fireplace. Rentals are available. • Dunton Locks County Park 6.1km - Beginner with some hills, west of Detroit Lakes, groomed classic all levels. • Mountain View Rec. Area 4.9km - All levels, both classic and skate skiing on wide, regularly groomed trails through hardwood forest. • Pickerel Lake Ski Trails 9.1 km - Narrow single track trails through hardwood forests. Groomed occasionally.

PHOTO BY JAY RICHARDS

Maplelag’s extensive ski trail network is meticulously groomed.

DETROIT LAKES, MINNESOTA

120 miles for you

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MNBIKETRAIL.COM 18 Winter 2021-2022

Minnesota Trails


2021/22

Northwest

SKI TRAIL GUIDE

Erskine | Rydell National Wildlife Refuge 2.5km - Relatively flat with rolling hills, groomed for classic skiing. Fertile | Agassiz Environmental Learning Center 20 km - Classic, groomed ski trails traverse forests, oak savannas, prairies and sand dunes. Hackensack Area • Deep Portage Ski Trails 18km - Beginner to advanced classic trails through rolling hills. Located in the Deep Portage Conservation Reserve. • Hiram Ski Trail 8km - Beginner to advanced classic trails inside Foot Hills State Forest, just west of Tenmile Lake. MN Ski Pass required. Longville | Goose Lake Ski Trail 17.3km - Beginner to intermediate classic trails through woods, over gently rolling hills and around wetlands. MN Ski Pass required. Moorhead | M.B. Johnson Park 4km - Scenic trails through woods and along the Red River of the North. Other ski trails available at Gooseberry Mound Park and Viking Ship Park, which has some lit trails. Outing | Washburn Lake Solitude Area 22.4km - Beginner to advanced trail in the Land O’Lakes State Forest.

PHOTO BY JAN LASAR

The Montebello Trail system provides 4km of easy skiing in the heart of Bemidji. Park Rapids Area • Itasca State Park 20km - Beginner to advanced, groomed with many loops. Ski to the headwaters of the Mississippi River among towering white pines on easy rolling hills. Visitor center with fireplace is open year round. • Soaring Eagle Trails 10km - Beginner to advanced skate and classic trails that wind through a varied forest with rolling hills. MN Ski Pass required. Rochert | Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge 13km - Ski through a mix of hardwood and coniferous forests as well as wetlands. Groomed occasionally. Thief River Falls Area • Golf Course Trail 12km - Beginner to intermediate classic trail. Ski on the frozen Thief River from Red Robe Park to the golf course.

#VisitParkRapids

• Greenwood Trails 1.5km - Beginner classic ski trails that wind through a wooded setting along the Red Lake River.

The Perfect Winter

Getaway!

Enjoy miles of groomed cross country ski trails and snowmobile trails through the Park Rapids Lakes area and experience the true stillness of winter in the Northwoods.

Walker | Shingobee Recreation Area 9km - Beginner to expert trails on the slopes of the Shingobee River Valley. Groomed for classic and skate skiing.

800-247-0054

www.parkrapids.com

Find More Information at www.mntrails.com/ski-trails Minnesota Trails

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WORLD FAMOUS ITASCA STATE PARK Winter 2021-2022 19


Central:

The state parks, forests, wetlands and private resorts in the heart of the state offer a ski experience ranging from remote to all-inclusive.

Brainerd Area • French Rapids 9.5km - Expert only. Well-groomed and challenging trails in glaciated area with great views of Mississippi River Valley. MN Ski Pass required. • Northland Arboretum 20km - Beginner to intermediate, classic and skate ski with nearly 5 km lighted trail. A trail fee applies.

Aitkin | No Achen Trail 11.3km - Beginner to advanced, groomed classic and skate trails through rustic forest. MN Ski Pass required. Aitkin | Vispo Ski Trail 3.5km - Four interconnected classic loops with a sledding hill about 13 miles southeast of Aitkin. MN Ski Pass required.

• Pine Beach Trails 40km - Mostly beginner to intermediate with some advanced loops. Varied terrain through pine and hardwood forest around several scenic lakes. Trail links Kavanaugh’s and Cragun’s resorts. Ski rentals at Cragun’s. MN Ski Pass required.

Battle Lake | Glendalough State Park 13km - Beginner to intermediate, classic trails on rolling hills over prairie and northern hardwoods that pass several lakes. Weekend shelter with fireplace, camper cabins. Ski and snowshoe rentals. MN Ski Pass required.

Carlos | Lake Carlos State Park 9.5km - Intermediate, groomed classic only, rolling terrain through tamarack bog, marshes, woodland ponds and lakes. The park has a rustic warming shelter with a wood burning stove. MN Ski Pass required. Clearwater | Warner Lake County Park 6km - Beginner to intermediate, groomed classic through woods with some challenging hills. 41-acre site surrounding Warner Lake.

Find More Information at www.mntrails.com/ski-trails

Collegeville | Saint John’s Arboretum 18km - Classic and skate skiing through the wooded hills of Saint John’s Arboretum. Some hills are challenging.

where

lakes trails begin

2021/22

SKI TRAIL GUIDE

A VARIETY OF TRAILS

AND

Cross Lake | Nordic Ridge Trail 9km - Easy to advanced series of interconnected loops starting at the Crosslake Community Center. Deerwood | Larson Lake Ski Trails 11.6km - Intermediate to advanced skate and classic in varied terrain with a mix of hardwood and mature pines. Passes by Larson Lake. Elk River | Woodland Trails 15km - Beginner to advanced, groomed skate and classic ski trails with many loops. Maintained by Elk River Nordic Ski Club. MN Ski Pass required. Erhard | Spidahl’s Ski Gaard 24km - All levels. Groomed classic and skate through 340 acres of hardwoods and prairie near Maplewood State Park. Privately owned. Fee applies. Ski and snowshoe rentals. Ironton | Wolf Lake Ski Trail 9km - Beginner to advanced, groomed classic with challenging hills through hardwood forest and mature pine. Shelter along trail, maps at intersections. Kensington Area • Andes Tower Hills Ski Area 15km - All levels of classic and skate through forest and around lakes. Adjacent to downhill ski area with 1.5km lit trail. Ski rentals available. A fee applies. • Trollskogen Ski Trail 12km - Intermediate level loops around several lakes at Kensington Runestone Park. Visitor Center is open as a warming house. MN Ski Pass required. Little Falls | Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge 5.6km - Beginner trail, groomed with two parallel tracks, with gentle hills. Trail follows Platte River, skirts around several wetlands, winds through mixed hardwoods, crosses fields restored with prairie grasses. Waterfowl observation deck along trail overlooking Skunk Lake. Long Prairie | Faust’s Woods 4.5km - This series of interconnecting loops over easy, wooded terrain is on private property, but open to the public. Depending on conditions it’s groomed flat for skate skiing, single or double tracked. From Long Prairie go south on Hwy. 71, then west on County Rd 10. Turn north on Ginseng Road and the parking area will be on the left after about 1/4 of a mile. McGregor Area • Remote Lake Trail 19km - Beginner to Intermediate classic ski trail within Savanna State Forest offers a wilderness-like experience. Connects to Savanna Portage State Park trails. MN Ski Pass required.

WillmarLakesArea.com 320-235-3552 20 Winter 2021-2022

• Savanna Portage State Park 16km - Beginner to intermediate groomed classic tracks on rolling hills throughout the park. Connects with Remote Lake Trail near Loon Lake. This connector trail has some steep sections. Minnesota Trails


2021/22

SKI TRAIL GUIDE

Milaca | Milaca Trails 8km - City of Milaca trails are groomed single track. Park at Recreation Park and take the pedestrian bridge over the Rum River to access the trails.

Pelican Rapids | Maplewood State Park 8km - Intermediate to advanced, four loops of classic ski through hardwood forest, over hills and around many lakes. Additional 8km backcountry trail. MN Ski Pass required.

Miltona | Spruce Hill Park 5km - 97-acre park with gentle, wooded hills through tamarack. MN Ski Pass required.

Pine River | Cut Lake Trail 16.5km - Beginner to advanced skiing around Deer and Cut Lake. MN Ski Pass required.

New London | Sibley State Park 13km - Intermediate to advanced with hills and curves. Ski to the top of Mt. Tom for the best view of the countryside. 4km skate ski trails. MN Ski Pass required.

Rice | Mississippi River County Park 6km - All beginner trails, groomed for classic skiing right along the Mississippi River. Saint Cloud Area

Nisswa | Grand View Lodge 8km - All levels over three loops, groomed for classic through 360 acres of pines, prairie and wetland at The Pines golf course.

• Graystone Trails 17km - Beginner to intermediate with a few challenging hills. Many loops through scenic woods, pastures and apple orchards. Maintained by the Nordic Ski Club of Central Minnesota. MN Ski Pass required.

Onamia | Mille Lacs Kathio State Park 32km - Beginner to advanced, several loops through wooded terrain. Ski rentals available. MN Ski Pass required.

• Riverside Park 5km - Beginner to intermediate trails with flat to rolling hills along the Mississippi River near downtown St. Cloud.

Palisade | Long Lake Conservation Center 5km - Beginner to intermediate, groomed classic ski trails through rustic forest. The conservation center building is open weekdays during business hours. MN Ski Pass required.

Minnesota Trails

Saint Joseph | Kraemer Lake-Wildwood County Park 6km - Beginner to advanced. Six classic ski loops that wind through a wooded setting. MN Ski Pass required.

Central Sauk Centre | High School Trail 2.25km - Groomed classic and skate ski trails next to the Sauk River. Rated easy to moderate with cut-offs to avoid the few hills. Spicer | Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center 10km - Beginner to advanced, groomed classic and skate. Trails within 500 acre environmental learning center campus with woodland and prairie scenery and abundant wildlife. Rentals available. MN Ski Pass required. Wadena | Black’s Grove 9km - Beginner to advanced, classic ski trails that wind through a wooded setting. Waite Park | Quarry Park and Nature Preserve 6.3km - Beginner to intermediate with a skating loop and classic loops. Ski past granite quarries and rock piles on lighted trails. 323 acre State Scientific and Natural Area within park with additional 5km of ungroomed rustic trail shared by snowshoers and skiers. Quarry Park parking pass required. Willmar | Swan Lake Ski Trails 5km - Groomed, classic and skate trails for beginners on Eagle Creek Golf Course. Restaurant and bathrooms available during business hours. MN Ski Pass required.

Winter 2021-2022 21


THEODORE WIRTH PARK by Rudi Hargesheimer

Winter Recreation AREA Kids participate in the 2015 Loppet Celebration

THE BEST CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING EXPERIENCE IN 1970s MINNESOTA WAS SLAPPING ON A PAIR OF WOODIES AND SKIING THE ROLLER COASTER NORM OAKVIK TRAILS AT THEODORE WIRTH PARK IN MINNEAPOLIS. NORM WAS A NORDIC SKIING LEGEND. HE WAS A NATIONAL CHAMPION, FOUNDED THE NORTH STAR SKI TOURING CLUB, AND WAS A CATALYST FOR SKIING IN THE TWIN CITIES. HE ALSO SOLD WOODEN CROSS-COUNTRY SKIS FROM THE ONLY STORE IN ALL OF MINNESOTA—HIS HOUSE. Back then, you were skiing on the trails he designed and you loved it. Today, just a bit north of the Norm Oakvik Trails, but still in Theodore Wirth Park, cross-country ski trails have sprung up all over. 23 kilometers of immaculately groomed trails make Minneapolis the number one big city ski destination in America. In fact, the 2020 World Cup races were supposed to be held at Wirth Park. The stadium had been built, snow made, the weather cooperated and Minnesota’s own Jesse Diggins was ready to win yet another big race. But COVID-19 crashed the party and Minneapolis had no World Cup race. But Theodore Wirth Park is still the place to be for Nordic ski competitions. Last winter saw exceptional snow conditions, plenty of high school racing and an abbreviated 22 Winter 2021-2022

PHOTO BY SETH MCGAHA

City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival celebration. And, of course, the trails hosted thousands of casual skiers, too. How did we get here? Theodore Wirth Park has been Minneapolis’ largest park for years. At one time, when Nordic skiing meant Nordic ski jumping, the park featured the Minneapolis Ski Club’s towering ski jump. It was dismantled a long time ago, and Nordic skiing became a much tamer sport. No need for a giant ski jump, just some natural snow, maybe a snowmobile to drag the track setting equipment around and willing cross country skiers like you and me. We’d gather at the old stone golf course chalet, strap on our wooden or our new fiberglass skis and have a blast. In 2002, then-Mayor of Minneapolis, R.T. Rybak, had an idea. He pushed for the city to create a City of Lakes Loppet ski touring race using much of the terrain at Wirth Park, including the chain of lakes. The single race

concept eventually grew into the huge multi-event effort we know today and is managed by the Loppet Foundation. With cooperation of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board they developed the Wirth Winter Recreation Area featuring cross-country skiing, fat tire biking, snowshoeing, hiking, tubing, sledding and snowboarding. The new Trailhead building features a small restaurant, gear rentals, meeting rooms, a changing room, weight room and sauna. Events catered to skiers, runners, mountain bikers, fat tire bikers, skijorers and snowshoers. Snow making capabilities gradually increased, and crews can now generate over 6 kilometers of great skiing, even when there isn’t enough natural snow to work with. By 2015, the City of Lakes Loppet, combined with two Trail Loppets and a Tri-Loppet, drew over 15,000 participants. Over 5,000 people

23 kilometers of immaculately groomed trails make Minneapolis the number one big city ski destination in America. Minnesota Trails


The Trailhead at Theodore Wirth Park

PHOTO BY RUDI HARGESHEIMER

PHOTO BY JAYME HALBRITTER/THE LOPPET FOUNDATION

THEODORE WIRTH PARK WINTER RECREATION AREA 740 Acres Groomed Nordic Skiing: Artificial snow 6.5 km Natural snow 16.6 km Lighted ski trails 5 km Fat Tire Biking loops 13.7 km PHOTO BY RUDI HARGESHEIMER

enjoyed the candlelit Luminary Loppet and during the winter season over 1,000 Minneapolis high school students learned to ski. There are now two skiing areas at the park, each with their own fees. The All-Access pass includes both the manufactured and the natural snow trails. The Natural Snow pass gives you access only to the trails that rely on snow falling from the sky. When you purchase your ski pass you’re helping to pay for the Trailhead building and the fantastic ski trails. You’re also supporting the broader

PHOTO BY TMB IMAGES/TODD BAUER

goal of The Loppet Foundation. Heidi Ledermann, the Director of Marketing and Communications at The Loppet Foundation, explains, “Our goal is to offer cross-country skiing and many other forms of outdoor recreational opportunities to all citizens of all ages, all abilities and all diverse cultural groups in the city.” The Loppet Foundation coaches teach inner city children, especially underserved youth, how to ski and enjoy outdoor adventures in the park. They also give lessons to adults and children, using loaned or rented gear.

Explore

· Miles of CROSS COUNTRY SKI and FAT BIKE trails for all levels · SKI lessons, clinics and rentals available for youth and adults · TUBING, SLEDDING and SNOWBOARDING on site—fun for the whole family · Races and events held throughout the season, including the 20TH CITY OF LAKES LOPPET WINTER FESTIVAL Feb. 5–6, 2021

THE

LOPPET.ORG Minnesota Trails

The Loppet Foundation partners with elementary schools to offer skiing during the school day. Middle school youth participate year-round in skiing, mountain biking, canoeing, trail running and orienteering activities. For students who aren’t in a participating school, a community based program offers similar opportunities. At Theodore Wirth Park you’re joining and sharing the fun in many more ways than just your personal adventure. Ski the trails and know that you’re helping others enjoy winter adventures, too.

OutdoɇUs

THIS WINTER at Theodore Wirth Park Winter 2021-2022 23


Metro:

URBAN TRAILS WONDERLAND

The many communities that make up the metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St. Paul provide an extensive network of wellgroomed cross-country ski trails. Many regional parks make snow and offer skiing whether it actually snows or not. Twin Cities area ski clubs meet regularly for fun, training, and competition. Afton | Afton State Park 19km - A variety of groomed, classic loops with trail shelters overlooking the St. Croix River near Afton Alps Ski Resort. Heated visitors center has parking and bathrooms. The park also has snowshoe trails. MN Ski Pass required. Annandale | Stanley Eddy Regional ParkSouth 5km - Scenic, rolling hills, lakes and marshes in a densely wooded area. Trail is groomed for skate and classic skiing. Stanley Eddy Regional Park is made up of three distinct parcels with separate entrances. Skiing is at the south unit only. The north unit has snowshoe trails. MN Ski Pass required. Anoka Area • Greenhaven Golf Course 5km - Skate and double-tracked, classic groomed trails through rolling golf course hills and trees. Trails are only open when groomed and posted as open. Golf course building and restroom is open during regular business hours. • Anoka Nature Preserve 5km - Flat and easy trail loops through stands of oak trees and open areas.

Hastings Area

Bloomington | Hyland Lake Park Reserve 15km - Intermediate to expert, groomed, classic and skate trails over rolling hills and prairie. 8km lighted trail. 5km trail with snowmaking. Ski Chalet serves as a warming house and offers ski rentals. Three Rivers Park District ski pass required. Burnsville Area • Alimagnet Park 6km - Short and flat beginner trails. All trails are multi-use and allow walking, snowshoeing and skijoring. • Terrace Oaks Park 10.9km - Beginner to expert. Groomed, classic ski trails through heavily wooded, hilly areas. Chalet available as a warming house on weekends. Cambridge Area • Spirit River Nature Area 5-8km - Beginner classic and skate ski trails through prairie, deciduous forest, and wetlands. Parking and restrooms at Anoka Ramsey Community College. • Springvale County Park 5km - Gently rolling hills, open fields and hardwood forests within a 200-acre park. Chanhassen | Lake Minnewashta Regional Park 8km - Classic ski trails through 340-acre park on the shores of Lake Minnewashta. Ski rentals available. Chaska | Minnesota Landscape Arboretum 13km - Six loops of classic-only ski trails through the 1,200-acre arboretum grounds. Snowshoeing trails are also available. Oswald Visitor Center has rentals, restrooms, snowshoe rentals and a gift store. The Arboretum Cafe is open all week. Cokato | Collinwood Regional Park 5.8km - Intermediate, groomed, classic trail on open fields with some wooded areas. No MN Ski Pass required. Coon Rapids Area

Just minutes south of the Twin Cities in winter sports heaven!

• Bunker Hills Regional Park 20km - Intermediate trail loops on flat to slightly hilly terrain. Rental skis available. Warm up inside the Bunker Hills Activity Center on weekdays. MN Ski Pass required. • Mississippi Gateway Regional Park 10km - Beginner to intermediate trails on relatively flat terrain along Mississippi River. Rentals available at Coon Rapids Dam Visitor Center on weekends. MN Ski Pass required. Cottage Grove | Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park 8km - Intermediate to advanced skate and classic trails with some steep slopes and heavily wooded ravines. An additional 9km of trails are multi-use and open to winter biking, snowshoeing, walking and skijoring. MN Ski Pass required.

• Snowboarding • Downhill Skiing • Snowshoeing • Cross Country Skiing • Explore Afton Alps, Welch Village & Carpenter Nature Center

For info: 651-437-6775 www.visithastingsmn.org 24 Winter 2021-2022

2021/22

SKI TRAIL GUIDE

Eagan | Lebanon Hills Regional Park 29km - Beginner to advanced trails, groomed for classic skiing. Trails wind through the hilly, wooded countryside and around scenic lakes and ponds. This large park is split into a western section with 3.8km skate and 6.6 km classic skiing and an eastern section with 19km classic only. Ski rentals available. Dakota County ski pass required. Eden Prairie | Staring Lake Park 4km - Classic trail on the south side of Staring Lake. Warming house with bathrooms is

available when the adjacent sledding hill is open. No MN Ski Pass required. Falcon Heights | Les Bolstad Golf Course 6km - Three skate and classic loops starting and ending at the golf course club house. Trails groomed by U of M Outdoor Adventures. Farmington | Whitetail Woods Regional Park 7km - Intermediate classic trails around Empire Lake. Connects with Lone Rock Trail in Rosemount. Camper cabins and fire rings available. Dakota County ski pass required. Hastings Area • Spring Lake Park Reserve 8km - Beginner to advanced, groomed, classic (5.4km) and skate (2.6km) ski trails. Schaar’s Bluff offers views of the Mississippi River Valley. Dakota County ski pass required. • St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park 12.5km - Beginner to intermediate, groomed trails on the scenic St. Croix River. The east and south loops offer a combined 10km of double tracked classic skiing, while the west loop has 2.5km of side by side skate and classic single track. MN Ski Pass required. Lake Elmo Area • Lake Elmo Park Reserve 19.5km - Beginner to intermediate, groomed, classic and skate trails on gently rolling hills offering a variety of experiences and challenges. Some lighted trails. Nordic center has bathrooms and vending machines. MN Ski Pass required. • Sunfish Lake Park 7 to 9km - All skill levels. Camel Back provides some fun hills, but Oak Run is particularly exciting. Morgan Lane offers beautiful view of a pond from a birch-lined ridge. Groomed occasionally by volunteers. Lakeville | Ritter Farm Park Ski Trail 9km - Beginner to intermediate, groomed, classic and skate ski with hills through the woods. MN Ski Pass required. Lino Lakes | Chomonix Golf Club 10km - Beginner to intermediate trails on flat terrain. Rent skis at Chomonix Golf Course clubhouse. MN Ski Pass required. Maple Grove | Elm Creek Park Reserve 18km - Beginner to advanced, groomed, classic and skate trails. Some of the best ski trails in the area with fantastic night skiing on over 5km of lighted trails and a 2.5 km loop with snowmaking. Elm Creek Chalet offers ski rentals, snack bar, and woodstove. Three Rivers Park District ski pass required. Maple Lake | Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve 16.5km - Intermediate, groomed, classic and skate trails over small hills and flat areas. Nature Center offers rentals weekends January-March. No MN Ski Pass required. Maplewood Area • Battle Creek Regional Park - East 6km - Beginner to intermediate classic ski trail through mature woods. MN Ski Pass required. • Battle Creek Regional Park - West 10km - Beginner to advanced, classic and skate ski trails. The World Cup Gold, Silver and Bronze trails are the most difficult. 4km lit trail. MN Ski Pass required. Minnesota Trails


2021/22

Metro

SKI TRAIL GUIDE

Marine on St. Croix Area • Big Marine Park Reserve 1.9km - Two classic, groomed, easy loops along Big Marine Lake. An additional 2.5km loop is open to winter biking, walking and skijoring. MN Ski Pass required. • William O’Brien State Park 19km - Multi-trail system, for all skill levels of classic and skate skiers with views of St. Croix River. Wetland Trail for beginners and Prairie Overlook for the more advanced. Heated trail center has a wood stove. MN Ski Pass required. Medina | Baker Park Reserve 14.5km - Beginner to advanced, groomed, classic and skate trails through woods and meadows. Equipment rentals, warming house, and snack bar at Chalet. Three Rivers Park District ski pass required. Minneapolis Area • Chain of Lakes Regional Park 10.7km - Groomed, beginner-friendly flat trails around Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles. Connects with Theodore Wirth Park trails to the north. Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) Pass required. • Columbia Golf Course 3.5km - Groomed, classic and skate trails on rolling golf course hills. Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) Pass required. • Hiawatha Regional Park 4km - Groomed, classic and skate trails on rolling golf course hills with a view of the Minneapolis skyline. Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) Pass required. • Theodore Wirth Regional Park 25km - Beginner to advanced, groomed, classic and skate ski trails. 3km lighted trails. One of the largest venues with snowmaking capabilities in the Twin Cities features some incredible hills on the north while the south side is primarily flat. Connects to Chain of Lakes Regional Park trails to the south. Ski rentals available. Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) Pass required. Minnetonka | Glen Lake Golf Center 2.4km - Groomed, classic and skate trails through rolling golf course hills. Rentals and concessions available at the clubhouse. Three Rivers Park District ski pass required. Monticello Area • Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park 3.5km - Great beginner trail through pines along Bertram, Long, Mud and First Lake. Groomed classic ski only. No MN Ski Pass required. • Harry Larson County Forest 3.2km - Intermediate, classic ski only. Close to Lake Maria State Park. No MN Ski Pass required. • Lake Maria State Park 10km - Beginner to intermediate, groomed, classic trails through rolling terrain, wooded areas, old growth forest areas and past lakes and ponds. MN Ski Pass required. North Branch | Wild River State Park 48km - Beginner (22km), intermediate (25km) and advanced (5km) trails along the St. Croix River. 27km are combined classic and skate ski. Heated trail center has rentals available. MN Ski Pass required. Minnesota Trails

PHOTO BY TMB IMAGES/TODD BAUER

Kids compete in the Junior Loppet at Theodore Wirth Park. Norwood Young America | Baylor Regional Park 5km - Classic ski trails around marshes along the shores of Eagle Lake in a 200-acre park. Includes a 1/4-mile boardwalk. Ski rentals available. Otsego | Otsego Regional Park 3km - Beginner trails alongside paved park trails on the Misissippi River. Tracks are set when sufficient snow is available, otherwise they’re groomed flat. No MN Ski Pass required. Plymouth Area • Eagle Lake Regional Park 6km - Beginner to intermediate, groomed, classic and skate trails through woods and meadows. Fat Biking and skijoring allowed on skate lanes. Three Rivers Park District ski pass required. • French Regional Park 8km - Variety of terrains from beginner to advanced. Groomed, classic and skate trails over rolling hills. 4.5km of lighted trails attract many after-work skiers. Rentals and concessions available at visitor center. Three Rivers Park District ski pass required. Prior Lake | Cleary Lake Regional Park 10km - Beginner to intermediate, groomed, classic and skate trails. Visitor center with ski rentals, vending machine and fireplace. 4.5 km lighted trail. Three Rivers Park District ski pass required. Ramsey | Rum River Central Regional Park 8km - Beginner to intermediate skate and classic trail loops. MN Ski Pass required. Rosemount | Lone Rock Trail 18km - Intermediate trails groomed for both classic and skate ski on gently rolling terrain through woods, agricultural land and wetlands in UMore Park. Connects with trails at Whitewoods Regional Park. Saint Paul Area • Como Park 5km - Intermediate to advanced classic and skate trails. 1.7km lighted trail. Equipment rentals. • Fort Snelling State Park 19km - The park offers flat multi-use trails which are shared by skiers, hikers and fat tire bikers. The Pike Island Loop with its views of the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers is the only trail groomed just for skiing. Visitor center serves as a warming house. MN Ski Pass required.

• Highland 9 Golf Course 3.5km - Beginner to intermediate classic and skate trail loop. • Phalen Regional Park 7.5km - Intermediate classic and skate trails, open and fairly flat. Savage | Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve 14.5km - Some of the most exciting and challenging trails in the metro. Groomed, classic and skate trails. Trailhead building serves as a warming area on weekends. Three Rivers Park District ski pass required. Shoreview | Grass Lake 3km - Beginner trails through woods and marshland, classic ski only. MN Ski Pass required. Stillwater Area • Pine Point Regional Park 6.5km - Beginner to intermediate trails groomed for classic and skate skiing. This small park near the end of the Gateway Trail has beautiful scenery with trails winding through large pine plantation, by small lakes and picturesque farms. MN Ski Pass required. • Brown’s Creek Nature Preserve 4.5km - Beginner classic and skate trails on moderate hills. MN Ski Pass required. Vadnais Heights | Vadnais/Sucker Lakes 8km - Beginner to advanced, classic-only trails on moderate hills through woods with lake views. Sucker Lake loop is north of County Road F, Vadnais Lake loop is south. MN Ski Pass required. Waconia | Carver Park Reserve 18km - Beginner to intermediate, groomed, classic and skate trails through hardwood forests and marshlands. Lowry Nature Center offers a warming place and has ski rentals on weekends. Three Rivers Park District ski pass required. White Bear Lake | Tamarack Nature Center 8km - Beginner to intermediate, classic-only trails through prairie, woodland, and marsh. Ski rentals and lessons available. 1km practice loop. MN Ski Pass required. Winter 2021-2022 25


South:

SKIING WITH A VIEW

The southern half of Minnesota offers rolling bluff country in the east and wide-open prairies in the west with regions of oldgrowth forest in between. A wide variety of state parks, forests and recreational trails offer fine cross country skiing. Austin | Jay C. Hormel Nature Center 10km - Beginner to intermediate, classic and skate trails through woods and prairie. Interpretive building with rentals serves as a warming house. No MN Ski Pass required. Faribault | River Bend Nature Center 11km - Beginner to advanced, groomed classic through flat prairie and woods with some challenging hills. MN Ski Pass required. Frontenac | Frontenac State Park 11km - All levels, groomed classic with overlooks of Lake Pepin. Two warming shelters available. MN Ski Pass required. Henderson | Ney Nature Center 10km - Groomed, classic ski trails through the 446-acre Ney Wildlife Preserve. Rentals available at the nature center. A trail fee applies. Root River State Trail 48km - Beginner to intermediate trail offering views of tall bluffs and abundant wildlife. Track set between Isinours Junction and Houston. MN Ski Pass required. New Ulm | Flandrau State Park 9.5km - Beginner to intermediate, groomed classic, flat trails on the bottom of the valley with more challenging routes on the oak shaded bluffs with several overlooks of Cottonwood River. MN Ski Pass required.

SKI TRAIL GUIDE Northfield | Carleton College Arboretum 18km - Trails in the upper arboretum (6km) are groomed for skating and classic skiing, the remainder are classic only. Trails are shared with walkers. Owatonna Area • Brooktree Golf Course 3km - Easy skate ski and classic loop. • Kaplan’s Woods Parkway 13km - Intermediate, ravine terrain provides challenging hills through hardwood forest near a lake and river. Wide trails suitable for skate ski and tracked for classic when snow is sufficient. MN Ski Pass required. Red Wing Area • Cannon Valley Trail 23km - The Cannon Valley Trail is open to a variety of uses in the winter. From Cannon Falls, Mile 1-15.5: Cross Country Skiing only. Mile 15.5-17.5: Side by side fat biking and cross country skiing. Mile 17.5-19.7: Trail is plowed and open to hiking and biking. Trail offers views of overhanging cliffs and stunning scenery. MN Ski Pass required for skiing only. • Mississippi National Ski Trails 8km - Beginner to advanced, groomed for classic skiing. 8km classic loop through wooded terrain offers extensive views of Mississippi River, considered one of the most spectacular in the state. Flatter and easier trails groomed for both classic and skate skiing are on the golf course to the south, where the trailhead is. MN Ski Pass required.

2021/22 Rochester Area • Chester Woods Park 8km - All levels, groomed trails through a wooded and hilly county park with views of Chester Lake, usually groomed for both classic and skate skiing. Trails are well marked with maps at most intersections. A trail fee applies. • Eastwood Golf Course 6km - All levels, groomed classic and skate ski loops with 2.5km lighted trails. • Essex Park 8.5km - Groomed classic and skate ski through woods and restored prairie. • Soldier’s Field Golf Course 5km - Intermediate, groomed classic and skate ski. Quiet city trails offer good skiing. • Quarry Hill Park 10 km - Relatively flat, groomed trails through rolling hills around an old quarry. Quarry Hill Nature Center is open all year and has equipment rentals. A trail fee applies. Winona Area • Great River Bluffs State Park 5km - Beginner to intermediate, groomed classic with overlooks of the Mississippi River Valley. MN Ski Pass required. • Saint Mary’s University 14.5km - Mostly intermediate to advanced with some flat terrain for beginners. Groomed classic and skate ski, through hardwood forest, an old apple orchard, and near Gilmore Creek. Some lit sections.

experience the holidays.

26 Winter 2021-2022

Minnesota Trails


2021/22

Winter Events

FAT BIKE AND SKI EVENTS

Minnesota Nordic Ski Opener S December 11, 2021 Hyland Lake Park Reserve | Bloomington, MN: Kick off Minnesota’s ski season with free skiing, rental equipment and lessons for all ages. MnTrails.com/event/minnesota-nordic-skiopener Moonlight Ski S January 7, 2022 Waite Park, MN: Explore the lit trails at Quarry Park and Nature Center and meet the Nordic Ski Club of Central Minnesota. MnTrails.com/event/moonlight-ski Fat Vasa B January 9, 2022 Mora, MN: The event starts and finishes in downtown Mora, with beautiful trails winding through the Vasaloppet Nordic Ski Center complex. MnTrails.com/event/fat-vasa St. Croix 40 Winter Ultra B January 15-16, 2022 St. Croix State Park | Hinkley, MN: 40km endurance race by foot, ski or fat bike. MnTrails.com/event/st-croix-40-winter-ultra Pre-Loppet S B January 16, 2022 Theodore Wirth Regional Park | Minneapolis, MN: A primer for the City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival with ski races of 5km and 15km and a 17km fatbike race. Loppet.org/events/preloppet Sons of Norway Barnelopet S January 23, 2022 Riverside Park | Saint Cloud, MN MnTrails.com/event/sons-of-norwaybarnelopet Fat Bike Rennet B January 29, 2022 Hyland Lake Park Reserve | Bloomington, MN: 10km or 25km illuminated race on Hyland Lake Park’s ski trails. Hosted by Three Rivers Parks. MnTrails.com/event/fat-bike-rennet

Moraloppet Ski for the Cause S February 5, 2022 Vasaloppet Nordic Ski Center | Mora, MN: Fundraiser event for skiers of all capabilities, plus a time of socializing and refreshments. MnTrails.com/event/moraloppet-ski-forthe-cause FatBikeFest #13 B February 12, 2022 Montiview Mountain Bike Challenge Course Monticello, MN: Men and women compete in Recreational and Advanced race classes at this long-running tradition. MnTrails.com/event/fatbikefest Fat Forest Fourteen B February 12, 2022 Tioga Rec Area | Cohasset, MN: A 14-mile race through scenic trails with a 7-mile loop option. MnTrails.com/event/fat-forest-fourteen Vasaloppet S February 12-13, 2022 Vasaloppet Nordic Ski Center: Mora, MN: This year marks the 50th Anniversary of this legendary ski event. MnTrails.com/event/vasaloppet Skinny/Fat Race S B February 19, 2022 Hidden Valley Ski Area | Ely, MN: A 10k ski race followed by a 10 and 20k fat bike race, beginning at dusk. MnTrails.com/event/skinny-fat-race

S

= SKI EVENT

B

Founders’ Classic S February 20, 2022 Mora, MN: A fundraiser for the Mora Ski Club that’s only $1 per km! MnTrails.com/event/founders-classic Stillwater Fat Bike Rally B February 20, 2022 Stillwater, MN: Complete this 11-mile loop at your own pace, or race it. MnTrails.com/event/stillwater-fat-bike-rally Pepsi Challenge S March 5, 2022 Giants Ridge | Biwabik, MN: This competition has an event for every level of racer: The Giants Ridge 8k, the Great River Energy Rush 25k and the Pepsi Challenge 50k. MnTrails.com/event/pepsi-challenge Balsam Basher Fat Tire Bike Race B March 6, 2022 Korkki Nordic Ski Trails | Duluth, MN: 20km race on challenging, but gorgeous trails. MnTrails.com/event/balsam-basher-fat-tirebike-race Eric Judeen Classic 10k Classic Ski Race March 6, 2022 Korkki Nordic Ski Area | Duluth, MN MnTrails.com/event/eric-judeen-10kclassic-ski-race

S

= FAT BIKE EVENT

As of deadline, the information in this calendar was accurate. Check MnTrails.com/events for additional information.

HIT THE TRAILS

IN GREATER ST. CLOUD SCAN FOR AREA

SNOW TRAILS

Lantern Loppet S January 29, 2022 Mora, MN: Ski classic-groomed trails by the glow of lanterns. MnTrails.com/event/lantern-loppet Ski Rennet S January 29, 2022 Hyland Lake Park Reserve | Bloomington, MN: Ski and skijoring races of varying lengths for skiers of all abilities. MnTrails.com/event/ski-rennet Arrowhead 135 S B January 31-February 2, 2022 International Falls, MN: 135-mile ski, bike and run endurance race on the Arrowhead State Trail. MnTrails.com/event/arrowhead-135 City of Lakes Loppet S B Winter Festival February 5-6, 2022 Theodore Wirth Regional Park | Minneapolis, MN: A family-friendly winter festival with numerous ski and fat bike events, skijoring and a nighttime luminary loppet. Loppet.org/events/festival Minnesota Trails

VISITSTCLOUD.COM Winter 2021-2022 27


Hegman Lake Pictographs

HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED A MOMENT WHEN IT WAS SO QUIET IT WAS ACTUALLY LOUD? I HAVE AND IT WAS AMAZING. TAKE A TYPICALLY SILENT PLACE SUCH AS THE BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA WILDERNESS, COVER IT IN SOUND-MUFFLING SNOW, ADD NUMBING TEMPERATURES THAT KEEP OTHER VISITORS AWAY, AND YOU HAVE A RECIPE FOR TOTAL, ABSOLUTE SILENCE. Once a year I find myself making a pilgrimage of sorts to about 15 miles northeast of Ely along the Echo Trail, where I visit the Hegman Lake

28 Winter 2021-2022

by Zach Johns PHOTO BY ROBERTA LAIDLAW

Pictographs that were made by Native Americans anywhere from 500 to 1,000 years ago. It’s one of those places that just has a special kind of aura to it and it connects me to the past in an almost primal way. No matter how many times I go, it always moves me to hushed reverence. My trips are often unplanned, dictated last minute by the weather. My favorite time to visit is when the temperature drops between ten and twenty degrees below zero. Those temperatures are perfect for making a normally busy section of the wilderness a place of personal, silent reflection. Last winter I brought a group of friends out for a trip to visit the pictographs. For some, it was their first trip to the wilderness in any season. A few of us were on skis, some opted for snowshoes. I’ve found that the trail is usually so well-trodden that it’s just as easy to simply hike in boots. Even though the air temperature was frigid, the bright sunshine and lack of wind made it feel much warmer. After filling out our wilderness permits we began our trek down the portage trail under the watchful limbs of majestic pines. We soon descended steeply and found ourselves at the southern end of South Hegman Lake. Instantly, that feeling of raw, wild isolation came over us. That feeling is found nowhere in Minnesota but the Boundary Waters. It’s a difficult emotion to describe, but if you’ve ever been there you know what I mean. We made our way across South Hegman, the snow squeaking under our feet. Soon, we crossed the short portage bringing us to North Hegman. Like most wilderness travellers we

found ourselves falling into a rhythm and our steps became more purposeful as we made our way toward our objective. Then we came to the rock, a large boulder, eight, maybe ten feet high sticking out of the ice. There’s nothing truly special about it, yet I was drawn to it, like a monument. I decided to pause. It was the first place I heard the silence. Even the merry chickadee, who you can always count on to brighten a winter day, withheld its song. If it wasn’t so wonderful it would have been eerie. We continued and came to a large cliff face. Suddenly, there they were, the famous Native American drawings painted in red on the granite. No matter how many times I’ve seen them, they always make me pause, kind of like seeing the Grand Canyon or the Tetons. In fact, they seem almost a natural part of the rock. I’ve read many different theories about what the pictographs are supposed to represent but I like to just take them at their most basic forms. A manlike figure seems to preside over the scene which includes a moose, a wolf or dog and some canoes. The moose is probably my favorite part of the scene. I envision the artist sitting on the ledge, creating his or her masterpiece, unaware that hundreds of years later people would still be coming in to admire their work. We drank some water and had a snack then donned our packs for the trek back to the trailhead. I’ve never stayed at the pictographs very long, probably because it’s always so cold and I want to get moving again. Perhaps, though, it’s that feeling of respect. One feels like they shouldn’t linger, it’s a place to pay homage and then move along. Turning around, we found the sun lower in the sky casting shadows of the pines across the lake. Winter days are short in the north country and even though the round trip to the pictographs is only about three and a half miles, you have to make sure you leave early enough or be prepared to hike back in the dark. After crossing the two lakes I paused at the bottom of the portage and let my friends climb the hill. As the last one crested the hill and disappeared into the woods I stood still and listened once again.

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NO REASON FOR AN OFF-SEASON Your time on the trails doesn’t have to stop because of cold weather. We have all the gear you need to stay warm, battle the elements, and enjoy your favorite pastime. Visit your authorized Trek retailer online today for information, hours, and services!

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