Posted by: Bearskin | December 19, 2014

12.19.14 Central Gunflint Trail is ready for your ski vacation

We just came back from a trip to the Twin Cities.  Right before we left, the metro area received a little more snow again.  The grass is almost covered.

As we drove back up north, we saw more snow, but it wasn’t until we were well up the Gunflint Trail that it was truly winter.

We are getting lots of phone calls  that go like this:  ” (Big sigh) Well, I suppose you don’t have any snow either, right?”  The picture below, from Jonathan Baumann of Golden Eagle Lodge, should clearly answer that question.  Snow in the Twin Cities melted in the rain and then a little dusting of snow fell.  But up here, we lost a small amount of our good snow on that rainy day, and then we were pummeled with 10+  inches of fresh flakes.  This is Minnesota’s premier winter cross-country skiing destination for good reasons — we get the snow and then we keep our snow.  That gets tiresome in April, but it’s wonderful in December.

The skiing is good.  There’s enough snow that the big grooming machines have been able to get out on both sides of the system and they will continue to improve the trails each day.  Don’t be fooled by that wimpy little snow in your metro area front yard or by the so-so snow along the North Shore  — the Central Gunflint Trail is ready for your ski vacation.

Jonathan Baumann photo of Central Gunflint Ski Trail

Posted by: Bearskin | December 9, 2014

12.9.2014 The new ski season

2.16.15 lower beaver dam trail

Summer Home Road Trail, 12.9.2014

Everyone is eager for the 2014-2015 ski season to start.  Many trails have been packed and rolled, but the fresh snow on Monday gave us a good base to start genuinely grooming a few trails.  Summer Home Road and Campground Loop groomed up quite nicely on Tuesday morning. Very good early season skiing.  We will continue to pack and roll other trails this week and may have enough snow to start grooming another area.  To be determined as the week goes on.  Call Bearskin Lodge or Golden Eagle Lodge for current updates on the status of grooming.

Season tickets and daily trail tickets for the Central Gunflint Trail Ski System are for sale now at both Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge.  We share the proceeds of trail tickets equally, so it doesn’t really matter which place you purchase your tickets.  Ticket prices for 2014-2015 will be:

  • Day pass $18
  • Child day pass (ages 7-13) $8
  • Late day pass (after 1 PM) $12
  • Child late day pass  $6
  • 3-day pass  $36
  • 3-day child pass  $18
  • Season pass $100
  • Child season pass $40
  • Cook County High School ski team members ski free, but please check in at a lodge
  • Gunflint Volunteer Fire Department members season pass  $50

All registered guests at Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge receive trail tickets included in the cost of their stay, so they need not buy tickets.

We don’t accept Minnesota Ski Passes for this trail system, as this these trails do not receive any funds from the state.  The Central Gunflint Trail System is privately operated and maintained by Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge.  Because of its large size and hilly terrain through the deep woods, this is a very expensive system to groom and maintain; 100% of your trail ticket fees go towards trail costs. The memorable experience of skiing in this beautiful woods would not be possible without our extensive trail work, so the cost of your ski pass is well worth it.

We’re looking forward to a great ski season.  See you on the ski trail!

Posted by: Bearskin | April 16, 2014

4.16.14 Ski season ends — see you next winter!

Thanks for another great ski season.  Yes, the winter temperatures could have been a little warmer this year, but the excellent snow conditions made up for the cold days.

We do, alas, still have lots of snow, but we groomed for the last time on April 5.  We’re in “waiting for spring” mode,  as the snow gradually melts and makes a watery, icy mess of our world.  Road access is erratic at the moment, so if you plan to visit us in April, call first.  The downside of having great snow is that it is very slow to disappear.

Use this web site to plan for next year’s ski season.  Our trails stay the same each year.  We can never predict when we will first start to groom, but many years we start grooming in November.  See you next winter!


Posted by: Bearskin | April 3, 2014

4.3.14 Snowshoe season begins

lodge w.snowshoes






Snowshoe season is here!

We’re wrapping up the ski season on the Central Gunflint Trail System. While it’s true that we still have a great deal of snow (with more in the forecast),  grooming conditions have become quite difficult.  Due to the daily freeze /thaw cycles that we experience now, the skiing may actually be better on ungroomed sections. It’s adventure skiing now!

We will concentrate our grooming efforts on Summerhome, Campground, and Oxcart Ski Trails until snow temps approach 32 degrees, at which time we’re done for the day. We will continue to try to groom those for as long as we get passable results; no promises on how long that will be at this point, as it just doesn’t groom up to our high expectations in these conditions.

The good news: this is the only time each year when we open up our ungroomed trails for snowshoeing.  It’s a great opportunity to get back into the deep woods trails that you can normally only experience on skis.  Snowshoes and trail passes are complimentary for our guests. Stop by the front desk to get them.   If you’re staying elsewhere, trail tickets are half price, and we do rent very nice snowshoes.

Please stop by the front desk  at Bearskin for trail maps, trail advice, and information about the ever-changing spring conditions.   Snowshoeing on this ski trail system only happens once a year, so take advantage of this fun spring opportunity!

We can also advise you about what is still open in the area.  April is the off-season on the Gunflint Trail and in Grand Marais; the majority of resorts and businesses are now closed until sometime in mid-May.  We’ll be happy to help you find the restaurants and lodges that are still open for business during this quiet time.

Posted by: Bearskin | March 12, 2014

3.12.14 Spring ski conditions

There hasn’t been much new to say about the ski trails for much of the winter. It snows, we groom, it snows, we groom…  This has been a winter with a repetitive cycle of sameness in snow conditions.  But, like most of Minnesota, we (finally) experienced a little spring thaw with warmer temperature earlier this week, so we’ve now entered the season of “spring ski conditions.”

We still have a LOT of snow, with an average packed trail base of 15 inches and almost 30 inches in the woods.   Many trails have been tilled and the rest will be, and continue to be, as the week progresses. Surface conditions vary depending on the time of day and the temperature; however, conditions are still very good for both classic and skate skiing. Best conditions will be in the morning and early afternoon.

Last weekend was  one of the finest weekends of this entire winter — sunny skies, comfortable temperatures, great snow.  We haven’t had that many spectacular winter weekends in this unusual ultra-cold winter  We’re hoping this coming weekend will be a repeat performance of last Saturday.


Posted by: Bearskin | February 23, 2014

2.23.14 Groomed and ready for you to come skiing

Finally, it’s quit snowing! The Central Gunflint Ski Trail System received almost 17 inches of fresh new snow over the last 7 days.   Our total snowfall since last November 1 is a little over 88 inches, as measured by the Baumann family at Golden Eagle Lodge.

Groomers from Bearskin and Golden Eagle Lodges have been grooming daily to pack as much snow as possible into the trail base.  At this point the packed trail base measures 15″ – 18″.  The snow in the woods is often over 3 feet deep, or even deeper in drifts. Classic ski conditions are fantastic, but due to the large amount of powdery snowfall we received in such a short amount of time, you can expect skate skiing conditions to be a little soft.  We will continue to groom throughout the week in order to further pack down the base. 

The pine trees in the woods are so beautiful, coated with what must be close to the maximum amount of snow that each pine bough can hold. Until the wind lifts the snow off the branches, expect every trail to be Christmas-card picturesque.  Here’s a picture taken by the Baumann’s on Ridge Run Trail yesterday:

Ridge Run 2.22.2014. Picture from the Baumann family.

Posted by: Bearskin | February 22, 2014

2.22.14 Groomers are out on the trails

Like everywhere in the state, we had massive amounts of snow on Thursday night and all day Friday, followed by high winds.  Yesterday our groomers were out packing and rolling trails to make today’s Pisten Bully/Snowcat grooming go more smoothly but the wind blew pretty hard all night, resulting in major drifts. Although groomers have been out on the trails since early this morning, the entire grooming process for all 70+ K of trails may take longer than usual today.  They’re moving some pretty significant amounts of fresh snow.  Call Bearskin Lodge or Golden Eagle Lodge to get current updates on grooming, or stop by at the front desk of either resort to check.

It’s going to be beautiful out there once the trails are ready to go.  Come out and enjoy this spectacular snow.

Posted by: Bearskin | February 19, 2014

2.19.14 All caught up on grooming, more snow on the way

Skier signWe certainly do have the snow here, with more on the way.  The Baumann family at Golden Eagle Lodge measured 18.5 inches of snow received since February 12th.  We have a forecast of another big snowfall coming Thursday.

The groomers have been out on the trails almost every day, trying to keep up with the fresh snowfalls.  It’s a challenge.  Three groomers go out on our 70+ K of trails after each snowfall, and it takes the better part of day to complete grooming the entire system — longer if the snow is deep and soft, as it was on Tuesday.  When they finally finish grooming every trail, nobody gets too enthused about a forecast for fresh snow.

Reports are that trails have been a tad slow which is to be expected after fresh snowfall, but with warming temperatures in the forecast, we predict some faster conditions in the upcoming days.  Weatherwise, this is the warmest week we’ve had all month.  Blue skies, fresh snow, and warmer temps = the perfect winter days.

We’re very busy this week, but the last week in February offers a few nice openings in cabins and lodges.  We have availability for dinner on both Wednesday and Saturday nights, as well as openings for dog sled trips.  It would be a wonderful week to take advantage of winter adventure package.


Posted by: Bearskin | February 16, 2014

2.16.14 Beautiful ski conditions

Tons of new snow. It’s a beautiful world out there. The forecast for the upcoming week is fantastic (that is after we get another big dump of snow on Monday), with temperatures predicted to be remarkably mild.

It almost doesn’t matter where you live, you’ve probably spent your winter so far shoveling snow.  Come up to Bearskin and we’ll take care of the shoveling and plowing for you — all you have to do is be here to enjoy our winter.
Lower Beaver Dam

Poplar Creek

Oxcart Trail, by Karen Reynolds

Snowy trees.

tracks2With over 50 inches of snowfall already since November 1st, this is  a snowy winter to remember.

The Central Gunflint Trail System was lucky to have snow during the past 2 winters, when much of Minnesota had minimal snowfall — but it wasn’t snow like this!  We continue to get fresh snow every few days, which keeps the grooming crew very busy.

We’re finding that after dealing with endless piles of Twin Cities’ urban and suburban snow, many of our guests are arriving at Bearskin in a winter-weary state.  Once they get out to ski or snowshoe on our beautiful trails, amidst the snow-covered pines, the fun aspect of winter seems to return. It’s more fun to play on beautiful snow than to shovel it!

The Baumann family from Golden Eagle Lodge does a great job of keeping meticulous snowfall records.  Here are the snowfall numbers so far for this winter season, as of January 22nd:

November 20137.25 inches (about 3 inches on the ground at the end of Nov.)


  • Dec 2 – Dec 8: 13.25 inches
  • Dec 9 – Dec 15:  3.65 inches
  • Dec 16 – Dec 22:  8.75 inches
  • Dec 23 – Dec 29:  3.4 inches
  • Dec 30 – Dec 31:  0.0 inches

December 2013 – 29.05 inches 


  • Jan 1 – Jan 5: 6.0 inches
  • Jan 6 – Jan 12: 0.5 inches
  • Jan 13 Jan 19: 7.6 inches
  • Jan 22: 1.25 inches

January 2014 – 15.35 inches

2013-2014 YTD Snow Total – 51.65 inches

All of our 70+ km of trails are open. Conditions are excellent for both skate skiing and classic skiing. A Central Gunflint Trail Ski Pass is required; you can buy your pass at either lodge.

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