The Gunflint Trail Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘ cross country skiing ’

Gunflint Trail Winter Tracks Activities

February 3rd, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

Flieder Kids with new skisThe Winter Tracks Festival in Cook County kicked off this past weekend with annual Ridge Riders fun run snowmobile ride up the Gunflint Trail and the Grand Marais Art Colony open house for the exhibit of plein air art exhibit of paintings created outdoors in the mid-Trail region of the Gunflint Trail. You’ll find special, family friendly winter activities along the Gunflint Trail all week long:

Monday, February 3:

Guided Snowshoe Hike, 1 p.m., Bearskin Lodge
Explore the snow covered forest. Snowshoes provided, but availability limited. Call 218-388-2292 to reserve.

Tuesday, February 4:

Cross-Country Ski Waxing Clinic, 1 p.m., Bearskin Lodge
The McCloughan family of skiers will offer their waxing tips and years of experience skiing on Gunflint Trails. More information at 218-388-2292.

Thursday, February 6:

Cross Country Ski Tour, 1 p.m., Bearskin Lodge
Must have own equipment. All skier levels welcome.

Horse-drawn Sleigh Rides,  6:30, 8 and 9:30 p.m., Okontoe
Patten Family Homestead welcomes you with Deluxe and homestead sleighs gliding along a lantern lit trail. Call for rates and reservations: 218-388-9423 and visit online:

Friday, February 7:

View Snow Sculptures

Carved from blocks of snow at locations throughout Tofte, Lutsen, Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail, snow sculptures are display through February 12, or longer – weather permitting.

Snowshoe Hike, 10 a.m., Gunflint Lodge
Meet in the lodge lobby and explore Gunflint Trail woods with your snowshoes. Call to reserve: 1-800-328-3325

Skijoring Demonstration, 2 p.m., Gunflint Lodge
For humans only, watch and learn from experienced skier and trained dogs.

Horse-drawn Sleigh Rides, 6:30, 8 and 9:30 p.m., Okontoe
Patten Family Homestead welcomes you with Deluxe and homestead sleighs gliding along a lantern lit trail. Call for rates and reservations: 218-388-9423 and visit online:

Wolf Howling Night Walk, 8 p.m., Gunflint Lodge 
Dress warm and meet in the lodge lobby to trek outdoors and call for wolves!

Saturday, February 8:

Horse-drawn Sleigh Rides, 6:30, 8 and 9:30 p.m., Okontoe
Patten Family Homestead welcomes you with Deluxe and homestead sleighs gliding along a lantern lit trail. Call for rates and reservations: 218-388-9423 and visit online:

Snow Days

December 7th, 2013 | News | 0 Comments

What a way to kick off December! Local schoolchildren had a whole three (3!!) snow days this week, as the first major snowstorm of winter 2013-2014 dumped between 12-20 inches of fluffy snow all along the Gunflint Trail. Golden Eagle Lodge reports this week’s snow totals as follows, for a total 13.25 inches of total snow accumulation in the mid-Trail region:
Dec 2 – 6.0 inches
Dec 3 – .75 inches
Dec 4 – 2.0 inches
Dec 5 – 4.5 inches

There’s not quite enough snow in the woods to take snowmobiles farther than a brief little spin, but Gunflint Trail businesses have started to groom cross-country ski trails which are in great shape for the first week of December. Don’t forget to check out the Snow and Trail Conditions for the most up-to-date report.

After snowstorm Cleon moved on east, a deep chill settled in on the Trail. It’s hard to mind the subzero temperatures too much, because the weather brings the sun with it. It’s been weeks since we’ve had a stretch of sunny day, so even if today only reaches -1 below zero Fahrenheit for a high temperature, it’s worth it to see our shadows again!

This time of year, when days are steadily approaching the shortest day of the year, we start to make our own light, stringing Christmas lights on railings and saplings outside and bringing out the holiday decorations inside. If you plan to gather some winter greenery from the Gunflint Trail forest, make sure to follow the National Forest rules. Learn more about cutting your own Christmas tree in this blog post from a holiday season past.

Snow is falling . . .

December 2nd, 2013 | News | 0 Comments

The Gunflint Trail woke up to a snow white world on Thanksgiving morning with the first fluff 3 inches of snow that seemed destined to stick around for all of Winter 2013-14.  It seems fitting to have winter’s beginning coincide with the start of the holiday season. Speaking of which, are you planning a North Shore Holiday this holiday season?

We asked about your favorite winter activities on the Trail on the Gunflint Trail Facebook page and we know lots of you are looking forward to snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing this winter. And let’s not forget the all important winter naps; it is the season of hibernation after all! What’s your favorite winter activity on the Trail? Be sure to share on Facebook.

Check the latest trail report to get the most up to date snow report there is for the Gunflint Trail’s cross-country and snowmobile trails. As of December 2, Gunflint Trail ski trails have bases of 1-4″.

At the moment, the Trail’s in a winter weather advisory through Wednesday. Snow is steadily stacking up in the forest and on cabin rooftops. We wouldn’t be surprised to see as much as another foot of snow when this latest snow squall blows through on Wednesday, so it’s time to pull down the bin of winter wear and start planning your next winter adventure on the Gunflint Trail.

8 Things . . .

March 7th, 2013 | News | 0 Comments

Welcome to March, the most spring-like winter month on the Gunflint Trail.  While the snow’s still deep, it’s time to squeeze in some late winter fun. Now sure how to spend March on the Gunflint Trail? Might we suggest . . .

1 ) Head for the woods: on foot, on snowshoe, or skis. Longer days means more time to enjoy the snowy forest. Just remember to dress in layers. A person grows surprisingly warm in 30 degree weather!

2 ) Go fishing. Still haven’t caught the big one this winter? Lake trout season is open through March 31st. Don’t give up yet!

3 ) Wear pink. It’s Mush for a Cure time!

4 ) Watch for eagles. Bald eagles head to the Lake Superior shore, where there’s easier fishing, for the winter. Around mid-March, eagles return to the Trail to build their nests and lay their eggs. The sight of an eagle soaring through the March sky is a sure harbinger of spring.

5 ) Take a dog sled ride. Warmer days. Blue skies. Time to take that ride before the mushers pack it in for the season.

6 ) Plan ahead. Summer is just around the corner and there are so many fun Gunflint Trail summer activities. What better way to beat any late winter blahs then planning this summer’s trip to the Trail and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness?

7 ) Have a cookout. Think March is too early for a weinie roast? As we move into the  end of the month, there’s bound to be a few warm evenings and with more and more daylight each day, why not throw on an extra layer, build a campfire, and enjoy dinner al fresco.  It’ll do you good!

8 ) Think spring! 8)

Kicking and Gliding on the Gunflint Trail

February 4th, 2013 | News | 0 Comments

A Gunflint Trail groundhog (who most definitely saw his shadow this past beautiful and sunny Saturday) would tell you that there’s still six weeks of winter left, but if it was a wise groundhog you were talking to, they’d also tell you that’s really not that much time. The time to enjoy Gunflint Trail winter is now and what better way to do that than by kicking and gliding your way around the Gunflint Trail’s extensive network of ski trails?

February means good snow cover and more daylight, making it a great time to hit the Gunflint Trail’s winter trails. You can check out trail conditions here.

Did you know that Cook County boosts the largest groomed cross country ski trail system in North America?! Yep, there’s 400 kilometers of ski trail to choose from in Cook County and fair percentage of those trails are located off of the Gunflint Trail.

For the last few winters, there’s been a challenge out to skiers to attempt to ski all 400 Km in a single winter. There’s a little added incentive this year too: every day you ski and log into the Volks Ski 400 website will earn you an entry into a drawing for a free trip to Cook County! Even if you’re only in the area for a weekend or week each winter, it’s still well worth your while to log your kms and possibly win a return trip.

In other x-country related news, the annual Sawtooth International Ski Races will be held at the base of the Gunflint Trail at Pincushion Mountain on Saturday, February 16.  These races provide opportunities for both classical and freestyle skiers and skiers of all ages and ability levels.  A 10K classical technique event at 10:00 am  is followed by a 20K freestyle event at 11:00 am. Both races run on a 10K loop of  intermediate level Pincushion Mountain trails. For those up to the challenge, start times will allow skiers to enter both the classical and freestyle events.

Lastly, the Winter Tracks festival is now in full swing in Cook County. You can check out a list of Gunflint Trail Winter Track events here.

Trail Spotlight: Banadad Ski Trail

February 27th, 2012 | News | 1 Comment

Snow is stealing the spotlight this week on the Gunflint Trail. Sunday’s snowstorm deposited 5-13″ of snow on the Trail and the upcoming snowstorm predicted for Tuesday night and Wednesday is expected to drop 5-8 additional inches on the Trail.  It looks like the Gunflint Trail community will be spending its extra day this leap year shoveling!

The fresh snowfall improves the conditions on all Gunflint Trail’s already snowy recreation trails.  One trail to consider as you ponder your options in this winter wonderland is the Banadad Ski Trail.

The Banadad is the longest tracked ski trail in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  The 29 kilometer single tracked trail meanders through the woods from Loon Lake  to the mid-Trail region south of Poplar Lake. The Banadad links the Upper and Central Gunflint Trail ski systems and is carbon neutral.

You’ll need a couple pieces of paperwork before you embark on the Banadad: 1) A Minnesota Ski Pass and 2) A completed (and free) BWCAW day use permit. The Banadad  Trail Association  has regular trail clearing gatherings and does a great job of maintaining the trail throughout the year. Grab those skinny skis and head out on an adventure!

P.S. There’s still time to dye Gunflint District Ranger, Dennis Neitzke’s hair pink! Neitzke, of the U.S. Forest Service, Superior National Forest, has gamely put his head on the line for some lighthearted fun which raises money for a very serious matter, breast cancer research.  It’s all part of the sixth annual Mush for a Cure.  If Neitzke can raise $5000 by March 1, he’ll dye his hair pink for the days leading up to the March 9-11th event. You can donate to the cause here.

Winter Tracks Festival is here!

February 4th, 2012 | News | 0 Comments

“What do you do in the winter?”

Any Gunflint Trail business or resident has answered that question multiple times. But a better question might be: “What don’t you do in the winter?”

With the Gunflint Mail Run sled dog race last week, the wintery fun on the Gunflint Trail has been kicked into action. This week marks the start of the Winter Tracks Festival, which features a plethora of activities on the Gunflint Trail and throughout the rest of Cook County from February 3 -12.

Here’s what you can look forward to next week on the Gunflint Trail as part of the Winter Tracks festivities:

Monday, February 6:
Snowshoe Hike, 1 p.m. at Bearskin Lodge. Snowshoes provided (subject to availability) Reservations required: 218.388.2292

Tuesday, February 7:
Cross Country Ski Waxing, 1 p.m. Bearskin Lodge. The McCloughan family of skiers will offer their waxing tips and experience skiing on Gunflint Trail.

Thursday, February 9:
Guided Cross Country Ski Tour. 1 p.m. Meet at Bearskin Lodge, Gunflint Trail. Must have own equipment. All levels welcome.

Saturday, February 11:
Volks Ski 400 Grab your skis and commit to skiing a particular section of Cook County ski trail to contribute to collective effort of skiing all 400+ kilometers of Cook County ski trail in a single day!

Family Sliding Party with Hot Chocolate. From 12 noon – 2 p.m. at Gunflint Pines Resort.

Every Day:

Visit the Winter Plein Air Art Exhibit at the Grand Marais Art Colony in “uptown” Grand Marais daily: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. The exhibit features painting created Jan 30 – Feb 5 in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and along the Gunflint Trail.

View beautiful snow sculptures at various locations throughout the county. On the Gunflint Trail, you can find sculptures at Bearskin Lodge and Gunflint Lodge.

Go snowshoeing.

Take a ski.

Set up a tip-up and get some ice fishing in.

Go for a ride: both sled dog rides and open horse sleigh rides are available on the Gunflint Trail.

Make a snow angel.

Have a snowball fight.

Go skating.

Enjoy winter on the Gunflint Trail!

Volks Ski 400 returns

February 2nd, 2012 | News | 0 Comments

The Volks Ski 400 is returning this February 11!

Established in 2010, the Volks Ski 400 is county-wide event which invites cross country skiers of all abilities to team up in an attempt to collectively ski all 400+ kilometers of Cook County’s groomed ski trails in a single day. Skiers are asked to sign up for their favorite section of Cook County ski trail to ski on Saturday, February 11 as part of the Volks Ski effort.  While you’re welcome to sign up as an individual, you’re encouraged to form a team.

There’s a $10 entry fee for the Volks Ski 400 and you’ll need to have a valid ski pass for the section of ski trail you’ve chosen. On the Gunflint Trail, that means you’ll either need a Central or Upper Gunflint Ski Pass, which can be purchased from participating lodges. The rest of Cook County’s ski trails require the Great Minnesota Ski Pass. For your participation in the Volks Ski, you’ll receive a long sleeved t-shirt and bragging rights.

Why attempt to ski every inch of Cook County ski trail in a day? Why not? The event is meant to showcase Cook County’s ski trail system, which just happens to be the largest groomed cross country ski trail system in North America. The event is non-competitive, giving you a chance to complete your trail section at your own rate.  The event also raises funds for the Children’s Nature Network. It’s a good time, good exercise, and a good cause all rolled into one.

If you’re participating in Winter Tracks, be sure to bring your passport. You’ll get another entry to win a Cook County getaway by taking part in the Volks Ski 400. Score!

Ready to leave some “Winter Tracks”?

January 9th, 2012 | News | 0 Comments

Wolf Tracks on Seagull Lake 1/4/2012

All winter long, you’re bound to run across a crisscross of animal tracks in the snow on the Gunflint Trail. Maybe it’s little squirrel and bird tracks near a feeder area. Or moose tracks meandering alongside the Gunflint Trail.  Or fox or wolf tracks headed down a frozen lake. Tracks offer us glimpses into the happenings of the winter world and every winter, you’re invited to leave your own set of tracks – boot, snowshoe, ski, sled, etc – in the Gunflint Trail wilderness.

The annual Winter Tracks festival started out as a Gunflint Trail event years ago. Last year, the festival went county-wide and this year, the festival will again features activities and events all throughout Cook County. This year’s festival begins Friday, February 3rd and runs through Sunday, February 12th.

One thing you’ll want to grab before participating in Winter Tracks (other than boots, long underwear, skates, skis, etc.) is your Winter Tracks passport. Whenever you participate in a Winter Tracks activity, you qualify for a passport stamp.  At the end of your Winter Tracks experience, turn in your passport with your host resort or the area visitor centers in Grand Marais and Tofte to be entered into a drawing for a free Cook County vacation.  Each stamp = an entry into the drawing, so the more stamps you have, the more chance you have to win!

Every day during Winter Tracks, you can take part in all sorts of winter activities, all of which will earn you a stamp in your Winter Tracks passport:

  • Viewing ice sculptures at various locations along the Gunflint Trail (Get passport stamp at Bearskin Lodge and Gunflint Lodge front desks.)
  • Ice skating at Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge. (Get passport stamp at Bearskin or Golden Eagle front desk.)
  • Cross country skiing (Passport stamp available at Grand Marais Visitor Center)
  • Snowmobiling (Passport stamp available at Grand Marais Visitor Center)
  • Ice Fishing (Passport stamp available at Grand Marais Visitor Center)

Along with the daily activities, several special events are planned as part of the festival as well.

Special events during Winter Tracks 2012:

Friday, February 3 – Sunday, February 12, Winter Plein Air Art Exhibit Starting January 30, artists will be out creating plein air paintings of Gunflint Trail and other Cook County landscapes. You can view an exhibit of the artists’ work at the Grand Marais Art Colony all through Winter Tracks.

Saturday, February 4, Ridge Riders Snowmobile Fun Run Snowmobilers will leave Devil Track Resort for a fun ride up the Gunflint Trail with stops at Trail Center, Windigo, and Gunflint Lodge.

Saturday, February 11, Volks Ski 400 Cross country skiers team up in an attempt to ski all of Cook County’s 400+ km of groomed cross country ski trails  in one single day.

Come celebrate winter and leave your own snowy tracks in style!

Sawtooth Races Rescheduled

January 2nd, 2012 | News | 0 Comments

Didn’t get a chance to sign up for the North Shore Ski and Run Club’s Sawtooth Races scheduled for New Year’s Eve?

There’s no reason to fret or pout. The Sawtooth ski races, now in their 29th year, have been rescheduled for Saturday, February 18.

The delay gives the snow a chance to keep stacking up on Pincushion Mountain and you the perfect opportunity to test your New Year’s fitness resolutions.

Although the course utilized for both races is classified as “intermediate,” according to the NSSCR,  “The Sawtooth Races will provide opportunities for both classical and freestyle skiers and skiers of all ages and ability levels.”  The races begin with a 10K classical race at 10 a.m. which junior skiers are encouraged to participate in, followed by a 20 K freestyle race at 11 a.m. While the timing is tight, skiers who so desire should be able to ski both races.

Revised Race Schedule
Friday, February 17:

5 p.m. Race course closes for race prep
6 – 8 p.m. Pasta feed at the Cook County Community Center

Saturday, February 18:

8-9 a.m. Last minute registration at Pincushion warming chalet
10 a.m. 10K classical race; mass, self-seeded start
11 a.m. 20 K freestyle race; mass, self-seeded start
Awards following each race in the Pincushion warming building

More information about the races and registration forms are available at the NSSRC and Pincushion Mountain website.

Pincushion Mountain is located approximately two miles outside of Grand Marais, on the right hand side, about halfway up the large hill at the start of the Gunflint Trail.

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