Snow cover on East Bearskin lake on the morning of 11/14/2019.
It snows a little every day at Bearskin. Of course, soon we will get the huge snow dump that signifies the true beginning of the season, but meanwhile we seem to get an inch or two on a daily basis.
The first trails to open are always the Summer Home and Campground Trails. Quinn gave it a shot with the groomer a few days ago, but it was too soon. We’ll post on Facebook and on this site as soon as he makes the first successful grooming run. It won’t be long.
“Work Weekend,” Bearskin’s annual ski and snowshoe trail trimming party, was held this past weekend and it was great fun. These groups covered so much ground, and were in high spirits while they did it.
Our trail trimmers attempt to spot the branches that are likely to hang out into the trails and annoy skiers. It’s tricky to do because many of the branches that will be at trail level after we receive tons of snow are 6 or more feet up in the air now. We have a large number of guests who keep this “Work Weekend” tradition every year, so they’ve mastered pine tree nipping.
All of our trails have been mowed at this point, so we’re just waiting for snow. We usually have a few November gales that will send us back out on the trails to clean up fallen tees, but currently the trails look great. We’ve a few inches of snow over the last few days, so Quinn is eagerly waiting for enough snow to accumulate that he can get out and groom Summer Home. We’ll keep you posted. He groomed for the first time last year on November 7th.
Next year’s “Work Weekend” will be held October 30 – November 1. Yes, Halloween weekend. We promise you’ll still get some Halloween candy and if your heart is set on wearing a costume, you are welcome to come to the Saturday dinner in full Halloween dress. The weekend books up fairly far ahead of time, so it’s never too soon to make a reservation. All cabins rent at the same price, $115 person for the full weekend, including the Saturday dinner.
Fun pictures from the weekend.
Waiting for snow. Newly mowed Beaver Dam Trail
Skiers will be excited to hear that Bearskin already received about 10 inches of snow. We’re happy to report that it melted right away, because even though we love snow, nobody here is ready for ski season to begin in mid-October. Perhaps the upside of having a rainy, cool fall is that this weather may bode well for the coming winter. Sooner or later this incessant rain ought to turn into snow.
Bearskin had a prodigious amount of snow last winter. It arrived early and stayed late. We started grooming trails in early November last year, and that first snowflake was still here in April. Melting was never a thing during the 2019-2020 ski season. Skiers were thrilled with the snow conditions. Bearskin is in the mid-Gunflint Trail snow belt, so we reliably have snow even when nobody else does. But last year’s snow might have been over-kill — it just never quit coming down. Forecasts for this winter predict more of the same for us.
Both resorts that manage the Central Gunflint Trail System, Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge, have been out mowing and trimming on our trail system since late August. It takes a great deal of off-season work to maintain a top-notch ski trail system like ours — the forest makes a vigorous effort to encroach on our trails every summer.
We are a little envious of the ski centers that can just mow trails back and forth through the grass in preparation for winter. Here on the Gunflint Trail, five-foot tall trees sprout up in the skate lane over summer, colossal pines routinely come tumbling down on the trails, and young balsam trees seem determined to over-run the trails. Giant rocks the size of a cooler appear out of nowhere, thanks to frost heaves and muscular bears. Driving the Tiger Mower down some of our steep hills can be death-defying, especially if the trail is wet It’s challenging to clear our trails, but the end result is extraordinary skiing through the heart of the pristine Superior National Forest.
The last section of mowing on Poplar Creek should be finished later this week. Our Work Weekend trail trimming crew will hand-trim and nip branches on many of the trails in early November. And then we will wait for the first snow.
The first trail to open is always the Summer Home Road/Campground trail section that leads out of Bearskin. Because it’s a road in the summer, it doesn’t require copious amounts of snow to cover the trail well enough for grooming. Kate and Quinn are usually antsy to get out skiing ASAP, so the pressure is always on here to get trails open! We will post on this site and also on the Bearskin Facebook page as soon as the first grooming happens.
Yes, we still have snow. Lots of snow, as you can see by the this photo of the Main Lodge during an April snowstorm today. But at this point, the Pisten Bully is being put away for the season and grooming is over.
Skiing is still okay. It changes during the day due to sun or warm temperatures, but it’s still possible to be out there. We see a few skiers every day now. If you have a season pass, you are welcome to continue skiing for as long as you’d like to try it.
If you do come to ski, the Main Lodge building will mostly be closed from April 4-10, so don’t plan on using the restrooms or changing in the Lodge. Staff will be on site, but they’re pulling up carpet, moving around furniture, and deep cleaning all week, and the Lodge will not be open for public use.
It’s been a long, but wonderful winter ski season. We groomed for the first time in early November, and after that the snow never let up. (Still hasn’t, actually.) Snow conditions ranked among the best ever. We had some bitterly cold temperatures, but pleasant days were also plentiful. We had the busiest winter we’ve ever had at Bearskin, breaking all records for the number of nights, and a majority of guests rebooked for next winter so they can do it all again in 2020. We’re all looking forward to spring, so it’s tough to contemplate the return of winter again; but remember that whenever you start thinking winter thoughts, it’s never too soon to call and book your cabin or lodge for next year. That’s how people nail down their perfect dates.
Thank you for visiting Bearskin and the Central Gunflint Trail Ski System. Every year we meet so many friendly people who come to stay or ski here. We’re lucky to get to know so many of you and look forward to seeing you again.
We are coming to the end of the ski season. While we are probably still going to have huge snow piles until next May, day after day of sunny, very warm temps has taken a toll on the quality of our snow. We have tons of snow, but it’s not the same snow we had two weeks ago. We’re doing what we can to keep trails alive, but grooming in warm weather just creates very beautiful, treacherously iced trails. The end is near.
Skiers have reported having great experiences while crust skiing on the lake surface. This is best done in the morning. Ask Bob or Quinn for more info on this option.
The trails groomed up quite nicely this weekend. Our new Pisten Bully has a built-in tiller, plus we had a bit of fresh snow, so Quinn was quite pleased with how good a track he was able to set in spite of the icy snow left behind by the rain a few days ago. He and Kate skied many of the trails and reported fast but good conditions.
The week ahead is forecast to be warm and sunny. Expect spring ski conditions. Skiing will be best in the morning, the earlier the better. Wax for warmer temperatures.
Those of you who live in the Twin Cities saw your snow disappear rapidly over the last few days. We have far, far more snow than most of Minnesota had, but next week’s weather will definitely change the quality of our snow. It will be hard on our side roads also, so if you’re coming up you may be happiest if you are driving a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
Here’s the latest report from our trail partner, Golden Eagle:
New Snow Last 7 days: 6.00”
Trail Base, Staked: Average 11” – 13”
Snow in Woods, Staked: Average 24 – 30”
Surface Conditions: Tilled snow
Total season snowfall: 96.28”
Comments: We are still skiing! All trails are re-groomed again today. All ski trails are now being tilled as we will be experiencing your typical March spring skiing conditions for the remainder of the year. Expect very fast trails this weekend. Base is still firm yet the surface is soft enough to get good bite with your skis. Plan to bring extra kick wax with you on the trails if you classic ski as this kind of snow wears off the wax faster than other conditions.
Bearskin has had snow since the first week of November, and not one flake of it ever melted until this past week! In the past few days we’ve had some rain and warmer temperatures, resulting in noticeable melting for the first time all winter. It was nothing like the rain in the Twin Cities, but there was enough to make a dent in our enormous snow piles. The rain turned to snow last night and as we write this on Friday morning, it is still snowing and blowing.
We lost a little snow that we can notice, but not that you’ll be able to see. The snow on our deck right now is above knee-high, as opposed to thigh-high a few days ago. Trail bases are well-packed and were not significantly diminished by the weather.
We’re waiting to head out in the Pisten Bully until it quits snowing. We want to accumulate as much fresh snow on top of the icier stuff as possible. Our new Pisten Bully has an amazing tiller and the groomers think that the trail surface will clean up well.
The bigger concern if you are driving up to ski is that the roads took a big hit during the rain and melting. If you own a 4-wheel drive vehicle, this is a good time to use it. Also, many surfaces are covered with ice today. The new snow on top gives the ice a less polished surface with better grip, but the ice is still there. Reports are that parking lots in Grand Marais are treacherous and people are falling in the first second after they step out of their car. (You’ve been forewarned!) We’re getting control of our ice at Bearskin, but if you own Yak-Trax or some version of ice grippers, you might be happy to have them if you are in our area in the near future. It’s that time of year.
We’ll report back after the groomers have made their rounds, but we anticipate that the trails will groom up nicely.