Photo by Bill Lundberg
We’re in that desirable winter cycle now where we have more than enough snow. The groomers head out whenever our trails need to be freshened up, and not much is changing. Ski conditions are fantastic. More than 60 inches of snow has fallen so far his winter in the mid-trail area. It’s not going anywhere soon. As usual, neither Grand Marais nor the end of the Trail have this much snow, but the central Gunflint Trail area seems to be a magic spot for snow accumulation.
Groomers were out on all the trails on Thursday and Friday. Because of the weight of the heavy snow, the lakes started to “slush up.” In the past week much of that slush has frozen hard, but there are still pockets in places. Our ski and snowshoe trails are good, but for people who are coming up to walk on the local lakes for winter camping or ice fishing you should keep a watchful eye out for slush.
Our long-time guests are saying this is the best skiing they’ve had in years. A recent review from skier Bill Lundberg sums up current conditions: “We had to go back for a second day in a row to the Central Gunflint trails! The conditions are just too good to pass up! This time we started at Bearskin, and skied the north-south loop to Beaver Dam and the Ridges. It was perfection again for both skate and classic. It’s hard to head back home the Cities after experiencing these conditions! Many thanks to the excellent groomers!”
Trail tickets are available at both Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle. We sell season passes, 3-day passes, full day passes, and afternoon passes for after 1 PM. For many people the coming weekend is a 3-day holiday, so expect to experience some parking problems if you start at Bearskin after about 11:30 AM. We recommend that skiers who are arriving later should drive a little farther to start on the north side of the trail system at Golden Eagle, as their parking lot is generally less busy. Bearskin will have soup and chili warm and ready, hot chocolate and espresso ready to serve, and wine or beer available to enjoy in front of the fireplace. Make a day of it at Bearskin. Or stay even longer, and enjoy a delicious meal at our restaurant on Saturday evening — we still have a few reservations available. Check out the great menu here.
In most years, Bearskin accumulates snow bit by bit. We may not always get the giant dump of snow, but we usually get a little almost every day, gradually accumulating a great trail base. In some ways the slow accumulation creates the best trails — if we groom over two new inches of snow every few days, the base gets extremely compacted.
This year is different. Our snow is coming in giant masses. We received another 6 inches of wet snow on Sunday night, which must bring us pretty close to 60 inches so far this winter. Groomers have been out, and mostly they report “LOTS of snow.”
People from the Twin Cities have been calling to ask about hiking conditions, because they’ve been living in spring temps and can’t imagine that it’s totally different up here. Hiking is only perfect now if you like hiking in snow up to your kneecaps. It’s snowshoe weather. Callers also want to know if there is much chance of our snow melting soon. Do not devote much mental energy to this concern. 🙂 We have way too much snow for it to make a quick getaway.
The Christmas vacation rush is over, so we finally have a few minutes to post. Wow, do we have snow!
In the last 7 days, we have received more than 25 inches of new snow. So far this season we have received 51 inches of snow. To put this is perspective, last year at this time we had just a bit over 30 inches, and that was a perfectly fine amount. Our trees are coated with a frosting of glittery white snow. It’s a winter wonderland out there — you should come up to enjoy it.
The forecast for the next 10 days is quite mild, not like a typical January at all.
In addition, if you are here this weekend you can stop in at Trail Center to experience a dog sled race, the Gunflint Mail Run, on January 5th & 6th. High excitement! More info here.
We have a few openings this coming weekend, as well as in the following weekend. After that, there are relatively few available weekend spots until March.
On many weekends one or more of the beautiful, luxury log cabins are still open. Skiers tend to gravitate to the less expensive cabins first, but the big log cabins have a rate that is based on 4 people in the winter — sometimes if you have two couples or a group of friends, you can stay in the luxury cabins with those gorgeous stone fireplaces for a per- person rate that is very affordable. Of course, your ski passes for the Central Gunflint Trail System are included with your cabin rental. Come on up and experience an old-school, real winter again.