2.15.2018 Weekend ski update for Bearskin Lodge

Popcorn clouds at sunset February 14 at Bearskin Lodge. Photo by Karen Reynolds.

The 3-day weekend is coming up and the forecast for winter fun at Bearskin looks great. We’ve had an unusually cold winter, like most of the state, and it’s taken a little of the fun out of being in a winter wonderland. But it looks like we’re finally crawling out of the deep-freeze, with ideal winter activity temperatures forecast for President’s weekend.

Trails are all newly groomed and in good shape.  We had a small snowfall on Tuesday, followed by a very warm day on Wednesday.  Quinn groomed this morning and thought the tiller successfully removed all iciness.

Our expanded snowshoe trail system (go farther, get lost less often!) and our fat bike trail system are exceptionally nice now. We do not allow fat bikes on our ski trails, of course. As skiers, we understand that fat bikes and well-groomed ski trails are incompatible. But we’ve created a system that allows you to explore far away on East Bearskin Lake, including parts of the south and north arms, almost all the way to the BWCA. It’s OK to walk or snowshoe this trail system, also, but fat biking to the end of the lake is a perfect way to explore an area most visitors never see in the winter. Stop along the way to hike over to Crocodile Falls, watch for the otters and their slides, and be alert for moose and wolf tracks along the way.

Are you a day skier, just visiting to ski? Parking probably will not be possible at Bearskin by about noon on Saturday and Sunday this weekend. We strongly encourage you to come early and make a day of it, before the parking becomes chaos. Stay for a soup or chili lunch, enjoy hot chocolate, espresso (yes, the real thing — we even have our own barista!), or have a glass of wine or beer. If you are a half-day skier after lunch, consider driving a little farther up the Gunflint Trail to start at Golden Eagle Lodge. Same beautiful trails, different way to enter the system, but fewer parking issues in the afternoon. Trail tickets are available at the front desk of both resorts.

Icing on the cake for President’s holiday:  there’s a good chance of northern lights this weekend.  The clouds need to clear off, but it could happen.  Watch the skies! Info about aurora watching at Bearskin and on the Gunflint Trail can be found here.


2.12.2018 Same old story, skiing continues to be very good


Skiing is excellent. We haven’t had any significant changes — small amounts of new snow, but no big dumps; no melting; frequent regular grooming to keep everything spiffed up, but no major overhauls. Just routine winter here.This hasn’t been a record-setting winter for snowfall, and at this point we’d like more snow because fresh snow is prettier and more fun to groom. But at some point more snow is just excess — we are in good shape.

We’ve had some crazy cold weather this year, as has most of the state.These have not been typical winter temperatures, so we’ve been very impressed by how unperturbed our skiers are by the cold. It has helped that many of our super-cold days were sunny, with minimal wind. We’re hoping that the worst of the cold is behind us now and that we’ll start to see a warm-up. The weekend forecast looks promising.

We also have a good forecast for possible Northern Lights this weekend. We’re in a cycle of fewer geo-magnetic storms now, which means the aurora will appear less often. There hasn’t been a fantastic light show for quite a while, but this weekend has some potential for a show, if it stays clear.

Some measurements from Golden Eagle on 2/9/2018:
Trail Base, Staked:  Average 8-10”
Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 15-18”
Groomed with classic track:  70 km
Groomed with skate lane:  64 km
Surface Conditions:  Groomed snow
Total season snowfall:  50.25”

2.3.2018 More of the same–excellent conditions

Not much new to report on the Bearskin ski trails.  If you’ve heard there was terrible melting on the North Shore and the trails are in bad shape, well, that’s not us. We’ve had a number of phone calls from people telling us that our snow must have all melted, but actually, we received a considerable amount of snow on Tuesday and have been receiving additional little snowfalls all week. Our altitude and distance from Lake Superior creates a different weather pattern up here, so we’re in our own winter weather world at Bearskin Lodge.

Come up and enjoy great skiing.  Soup, chili, wine, beer, hot chocolate, cookies, and espresso are available in the Main Lodge all weekend.

Some parking thoughts:  Parking may be a problem on the weekend.  If you can’t see a place to park, please walk up to the Main Lodge and talk about parking options.  We have alternatives.  Last week day skiers left a truck parked in our cabin road, and then (of course!) we had a medical emergency from someone blocked in by the truck. Not cool.  Park sensibly, and if you think you’ll need to leave a vehicle in an awkward spot, we’ll help you find a better place to put it.  Another option:  drive a little farther and park at Golden Eagle Lodge.  Same trails, different access, fewer parking issues!

1.27.2018 Still lots of snow, super skiing

We’re in that January cycle of snow, groom, snow, groom, with no significant changes in the trail status.  The intense melting that took place along the North Shore over the past few days was not a big thing on the Gunflint Trail. We had some slightly warmer temps, but we also received more snow, so we’d call it a wash.

We haven’t had excessive snow this year (we’re okay with that!), but we have the right amount for great skiing conditions.  We’ve had about 44 inches of snow so far this season. Trail bases average 7 – 9 inches, with 12 – 16 inches or more of snow in the woods.  We have more snow and cooler temperatures in the forecast for the coming week.

Quinn and Bob were both out skiing late Saturday afternoon, and reported trail conditions to be excellent. Quinn will be out in the morning to groom the system again after today’s fresh snowfall.


1.16.2018 More new snow on the Central Gunflint Trail

It snowed again mid-trail on Monday afternoon.  This morning, in the bright sun, the bright white fresh snow crystals made our world sparkly.  Temps are warming up over the next few days, so the skiing for this weekend should be ideal.

Everything was groomed again over the last 24 hours, with the exception of Poplar Creek and the short BWCAW Logging Camp section. Those will be done on Wednesday morning.  It’s stunningly beautiful on the trails.

We’re often asked about how we get such a perfect ski surface on our trails.  Bearskin has owned various versions of a Kassbohrer Pisten Bully snow groomer for more than 3 decades. Dave Tuttle was an early believer in the quality of this grooming equipment. He even went to Germany to watch the assembly of one of his first Pisten Bullies.

Our old PB did a great job, but after purchasing the new machine, we’ve been amazed by how perfect it leaves the trails. Many grooming technology improvements have been made in 29 years!  We love how our trails are wider and firmer than they’ve ever been before.

Pisten Bully

PIsten Bully taking a break by the Lodge.

We also appreciate the greatly diminished number of stories from Quinn and Bob that start with “and then the (fill in the blank with something huge and terrible) broke when I was 10 miles away.”  It’s nice to know that when they go out to groom on a cold day, they probably won’t be limping back with a broken PB. The novelty of a machine that works well will never wear off.  🙂

Come and ski with us this weekend. We have a few cabin openings.  If you come to day-ski, there will be soup, chili, and hot chocolate in the Lodge when you need to warm up. Loon Lake Cafe will be open Saturday night, with Derek Hofeldt cooking favorites from Loon Lake Lodge’s summer menu. More info here.


1.14.2018 Latest snow measurements for Central Gunflint Ski Trail

The folks at Golden Eagle have been out with their ruler on the Central Gunflint Trail trail system.   Here are the stats:

Central Gunflint Ski Trail Conditions on January 13, 2018

New Snow Last 7 days:  6.25”
Trail Base, Staked:  Average 6.5 – 8”
Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 13 – 14”
Groomed with classic track:  70 km
Groomed with skate lane:  54 km
Surface Conditions:  Fresh groomed snow
Total season snowfall:  41.50”

Comments:  The Central Gunflint Ski Trail System received a healthy dumping of 5 inches of new snow on Thursday, January 11th. Both groomers were out there right away and got to work; all trails have been re-groomed. A large dumping of snow like that is extra helpful in leveling out some of the more uneven trails. The skiing is awesome! If you thought it was great before, you should see it now!


1.12.2018 Fresh snow, new grooming on the Central Gunflint ski trails

It snowed like crazy here on Thursday, dumping 5 – 6 new inches of new, powdery snow on the Central Gunflint Ski Trail System.  The pines have a picturesque coating of white on the boughs, and our snow is brilliantly white and crystalline again. We’ve had ample snow for skiing for a long time now, of course, but this additional snowfall really made the trails fresh and beautiful again.

Both sides of the system were groomed Friday, so the trails are perfect. Our weekend forecast is cold again, although nowhere near as cold as it was on those brutally cold days shortly after Christmas. This forecast is cold, but better. Sunday is predicted to be a bit warmer, with a little snow.

We’ll have soup and chili available all weekend, as well as hot chocolate.  Or warm up with a glass of wine or beer. We also have Loon Lake Cafe here Saturday night, with Derek Hofeldt cooking.  We’ll be taking reservations until about noon on Saturday. Call 388-2292, or email stay@bearskin.com.

Trail passes for the entire 70+ K system are $18/day or $12/after 1 PM. As this is a three-day weekend, we encourage you to arrive early. Parking in our lot can become quite problematic by about noon, so an early arrival gets you a parking place!  Make a day of it and eat lunch with us. Another option to simplify parking is to drive a little farther up the road and start your skiing at Golden Eagle. They tend to have fewer cars in their lot. It’s the same ski trail system, you’re just starting on a different side. Ski over to see us, have a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of wine while you warm up, and skip the parking dilemma entirely.