Skis, boots and poles: three ingredients that turn the groomed trails in Minnesota’s North Woods into gliding pathways for adventure.
Bluefin’s cross country skis, Nordic and skate, are available free to guests to rent. With nearby routes like the Onion River Road groomed, as well as some of the trails out of Britton Peak there are a good number of cross country ski-trips available. Further afield, guests have found excellent Nordic skiing at Bally Creek, north of Cascade River State Park and at the Bearskin Lodge, on the Gunflint Trail north of Grand Marais.
The scarcity of snowfall this year has limited the amount of groomed trail, but there are still dozens of groomed kilometers nearby, and some of the ungroomed options offer a different kind of adventure. The frozen Caribou Lake has been one popular spot for guests. Others who don’t mind setting their own tracks can take the still-ungroomed trail that winds up the north side of Carlton Peak. Those who want to summit will have to take their skis off at the Superior Hiking Trail and ascend the mountain in boots.
Since snow conditions change every day, make sure to stop by the Bluefin front desk before you head out, and get the scoop on the best ski conditions.
Looking for a guided adventure? As of Saturday, January 10, Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts guests can join up for Nordic cross country ski outings departing Guest Services at noon and going until 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. First time skiers are welcome as are more experienced hands who would enjoy going out in a group setting with naturalist interpretation.
Show up early at the activities room downstairs to get fitted into boots, skis and poles. From there, the group will go by van to the trails. The Sugarbush Ski Trails near the Onion River Road will probably be the most popular destination this year, but anywhere nearby with good snow and fun trails should be considered fair game.
The tour will include some basic ski instruction for beginners. There won’t be any killer hills or grueling ascents through knee-deep powder. Be prepared to spend about the same amount of energy as you would on a brisk three-hour hike.
Be ready for the cold
Guests who go on tours should dress warmly, and in layers. Heavy mitts and hand warmers can be an asset when the temperature goes below zero. A windproof layer is good to have along on any trip. Many people are surprised by how much warmth their own bodies will put out when they are underway, so the multiple layers are helpful for shedding when the going is warm and putting the insulation back on when the wind picks up. Ditch the cotton layers – they’ll soak up moisture and chill you to the bone.
Anyone going out in the weather should make sure boots and gloves aren’t tight. That will cut off circulation and lead to freezing fingers and toes. If you go out skiing alone, be sensitive to what your body is telling you. Are your toes or fingertips numb or tingling? Maybe it’s time to call it a day and soak in the hot tub.
The pleasure of a day on the trail is the silence of a snowy glade, the swishing rhythm of the skis over the tracks, the explosion of a grouse’s wings taking flight. Whether you join a tour or go out on your own, it will be an experience you’ll treasure.
-Tom Fagin, Bluefin Bay Activities