12.28.2018 Wow! So much snow.

It snowed and snowed.  Not giant fluffy flakes, just endless hours of steady snowfall.  We started with about 12 inches of snow on the ground. It looks like we added another 15 – 20 inches, depending on where you are.

Needless to say, we are grooming.  Also needless to say, it’s probably going to take all day, with residual grooming continuing over the next few days.

This is fabulous news for the rest of the ski season.  But for today, if you come to ski please anticipate that trails will be a “work in progress” and that the parking lot area is more limited than usual because of snow piles.  Even with our state-of-the-art Pisten Bully groomer, after this much snow it will take some time for the newly groomed trails to harden up. Skiing will be better on Saturday, even though it is supposed to be colder.

Ski trail passes are $18 for the full day, $12 after 1 PM, and can be purchased at both Bearskin and Golden Eagle. Parking is often easier at Golden Eagle. Over the next couple days we can anticipate that the Bearskin parking lot will be full well before noon. We suggest coming early and making a day of it. Enjoy hot chocolate, a latte, or soup and chili in the lodge and don’t worry about trying to cram your car into some tiny leftover, edge-of-the-road space in early afternoon.

If you do come after the parking lot is full, please head up to Golden Eagle. We ask that you please not block our driveways and ski trails, and do not park in precarious places; other drivers don’t all have fantastic winter driving skills to manipulate their vehicle around your car.  Thank you for your help in this matter!

12.22.2018 More groomed trails have opened!

Don’t be dismayed by the lack of snow you’re seeing almost everywhere in Minnesota — we have snow and we’re skiing on the Central Gunflint Trail System!

Our ski season started early here, with our first trails opening in early November. That early snow gave us a great start, but then it took quite a bit longer before enough additional snow accumulated to cover the stubble and big boulders on the many miles of trails in the deep woods.

As of December 21, almost all the trails are now groomed, tracked, and open. There’s still a little stubble in a few spots, but we’re now in our typical Christmas weather pattern of getting fresh snow almost every day. The trails will just get better and better.

Poplar Creek Trail is still closed, as is often the case at this point in the season, due to open water in a few places. Also, the small BWCAW section of the Logging Camp loop, which has to be groomed with different equipment, won’t be open until we get more snow. If we get the predicted snow in the next few days, that trail should open up in the near future.

All guests at Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge receive complimentary ski trail passes for our ski system. If you are staying elsewhere, you are welcome to ski on the  Central Gunflint Trail System when you purchase a pass at either Bearskin or Golden Eagle.

It’s looking like we will have a Christmas break with almost no snow along the North Shore, which often means skiers may be driving up the Gunflint to find the snow. With that in mind, we encourage those of you who are staying elsewhere to start your ski day in the morning. Buy lunch, have some hot cocoa or an espresso, make a day of it. Historically, when there is no snow elsewhere on the North Shore, our parking lots are often jam-packed full after lunch. You won’t care about that problem at all if you’re here before the rush starts. (And you really won’t care if you’re just walking back to your cozy Bearskin cabin! It’s so nice to be right here.)

 

We’re skiing at Bearskin!

On a personal level, we weren’t ready for snow yet. We were longing for beautiful autumn days, which we never really had this fall. But our cool fall suddenly turned into an early winter, so we revved up the Pisten Bully and groomed the Summer Home Road ski trail.

Local skiers have been out almost every day and the trail is surprisingly good for the middle of November, a time when we are normally hiking, not skiing. Summer Home has been groomed twice. It’s nothing like it will be after we get a few more normal snowfalls, but if you want to get out and try early skiing, we’re open for you.

Season passes for the Central Gunflint Trail system are available at both Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle. At this point we aren’t charging for daily passes yet, but stop in at Bearskin and sign a ski waiver if you’ll be out on the trail.

Given how cold it has been for the entire fall, we would be very surprised if this snow melts. Winter is here.

8.21.2018 Looking forward to an amazing winter

It’s still summer on the Gunflint Trail, but the preparations for the winter ski season are already underway. The outstanding conditions on the Central Gunflint Trail Ski System don’t just happen —  a huge amount of time and effort goes into maintaining more than 70 K of trails through the Superior National Forest.  Together, Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge put in hundreds of hours of trail-work each autumn. It would not take very long for the trail system to completely disappear without the massive amount of mowing, chain saw work, branch sawing and nipping, and weed-whipping that both resorts do in the fall. Skiers on the Central Gunflint Trail System notice the difference this makes in the quality of the ski experience here.

The Central Gunflint Trails are not for everyone — and that’s a good thing if you’re a serious cross-country skier.  Both the McCloughan and the Baumann families have multiple generations of lifetime Minnesota skiers. We understand what real skiers expect. There are no snowmobiles on our trails, no dogs running in the ski tracks. (Although we can’t seem to keep the moose off the trails in some spots!) Skiers here don’t share the same trails with fat bikes or snowshoers.  Our ski trails are dedicated to strictly to skate and classic skiers.

Watch this page for updates on conditions as winter approaches.  Find your perfect winter cabin getaway at www.bearskin.com  or e-mail stay@bearskin.com.  You can also call us for suggestions.  We’d love to help you plan your perfect winter ski trip.

 

What’s the grooming like here?

— “Wonderful trails today!  Fresh snow, freshly groomed –nothing better!  We skied Bear Cub with two 10 year olds and an 11-year-old. What a treat for all.”   Ron, 2/19/2018

—  “Cross country skiing on perfectly groomed trails, amid drop-dead gorgeous scenery, what could be better? Bearskin is simply the best.”  Karen, 2/16/2018

—  “We have been coming to Bearskin with our children for many years and are now coming with our grandchildren as well. Bearskin has always lived up to our expectations.Trails are beautifully groomed. Staff is always warm, kind and accommodating. It is a wonderful experience.” Jean, 2/16/2018

—  “The trails were wide and beautifully groomed. The grooming was the best I have ever experienced on a ski trail. Well worth the trip to come up here for a ski weekend.”  2/2018

—  “The grooming is the best in the state consistently. We hated to go home. We will be back soon! The beautiful scenery, the fantastic snow and the always excellent grooming, plus the very nice people, make this our favorite place in Minnesota to Nordic ski, classic and freestyle. Thank you so much!”   Bob, 2/17/2018

—  “Impeccable grooming though the season — a skier’s dream.  Bearskin grooming this winter set a new standard for ski trails.”  Tom & Nancy, 3/20/2016

—  “My wife and I started cross-country skiing in 1977, and since then skied all over the Upper Midwest and made trips to Lake Placid and Vermont.  The past 4 days at Bearskin Lodge have been the best 4 days of skiing that we ever had. The snow on the pine trees, the immaculate grooming, the trails themselves, the hot tub, the solitude, and the overall beauty simply can’t be beat”.  Tom, 1/29/2016

3.31.2018 Last grooming of the year today, ski season officially over

Today Bob groomed the Central Gunflint Ski Trail system for the last time this winter.  We didn’t quite reach the record date for our last grooming, which was April 13 a few years ago, but we did make it to Easter weekend. Not bad. Considering we’ve had snow since October 26, we’re good with being done.

We do have a lot of snow left, but it’s hard, fast and icy, and doesn’t groom up nicely anymore.  If you have a Central Gunflint Season season pass you may continue to ski, but do so with the understanding that conditions aren’t great. Be careful! There’s no such thing as a gentle fall on this icy snow surface.

Bearskin will have limited office hours in April, from 8 AM to 4 PM on many days. Staff will be on site accomplishing spring tasks, but the office and main lodge building will frequently be closed all day in mid-April.  If you need us, call first.

Thanks for a great winter.  We’ll see you next year.

 

3.18.2018 Great spring skiing conditions continue

ski trail march 17

Trail photo from March 17 by Robin Nicholson

 

Spring offers a nice mix of ski conditions on the Central Gunflint Trail system. Our trails don’t look as perfect as they do in February. The daily cycle of warming and softening, followed by nightly refreezing is not ideal for trail maintenance. The trade-off is you get bright sunny days and such pleasant temperatures. Skiers are loving it.

We have had very minimal snow loss. Our trail base still averages 9 – 13 inches, with about 19 inches of snow in the woods. We’re grooming and tilling trails regularly in the early morning, before it gets too sunny. Morning skiing before lunch is the best. A review on Skinny Ski by Robin Nicholson on March 17 sums up conditions nicely: “Skied today from 10:30-12:30 on Logging Camp Trail, North-South Link, and Summer Home Rd. It was hard and fast but not icy. It looks like plenty of snow cover. Perfect spring skiing with ideal snow!”

Trail conditions change daily depending on day and night temperatures, but we see no immediate end coming for the good spring skiing. We still have a lot of snow up here. Our upcoming weather forecast includes a few days with cooler temps and a bit of fresh snow.

weather week of 3.18

The aurora could also make a few appearances this week, based on the current predictions. On this chart, larger KP numbers indicate a greater probability of the northern lights. We occasionally see lights at 3 KP here, but 4 or above indicates a better chance. Days near the spring equinox often offer a little light show, so there are a few chances this week that the numbers and clear skies will converge.

northern lights forecast 3.18.18

3.10.2018 Good spring ski conditions continue

With regular grooming, we still have great spring skiing conditions on the Central Gunflint Trail.  The snowshoe trails are perfect, and everyone is loving the new Cranberry Trail Snowshoe Trail, which ventures far into new territory on our property.  The Fat Bike trail heading towards the “arms” of East Bearskin Lake has held up nicely and, amazingly, even the broomball rink has survived winter in fairly food condition. There’s still time to enjoy winter fun on the Gunflint Trail.

Golden Eagle did a bit of trail measuring on the Central Gunflint Trail this week.  They report that the average trail base is 10″-14,” with about 20 inches of snow in the woods. Ted Young of the Banadad Trail system (not on our ski pass, but a favorite side trip for many guests) reports recent grooming and good conditions, with only a few icy spots on the long trail.

We’re grooming and tilling the Central Gunflint Ski Trail almost daily. Conditions change quickly on these sunny spring days, so morning skiing is usually the best.

The upcoming forecast looks like typical March weather, with sunny days and slightly warmer winter temps.  The snow should hold nicely, as the temps aren’t super warm.

forecast March 2018

The real forecast excitement is the good Northern Lights forecast for March 14 – March 18, especially the 18th.  Bring your camera and tripod. We haven’t been on a good run of great lights this winter due to the constant cloudiness, but the upcoming forecast includes so many dates that’s there’s bound to be a least one clear night.

KP auora lights forecast march 2018