If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the beginning of skiing on the Central Gunflint Trail system, there are hopeful signs that winter is on the way.
Our trails have been mowed and cleared for quite some time. During the past few years we had somewhat skiable snow in October and early November. This year we’ve just been waiting, waiting, waiting — but now it’s starting to snow.
We get some amazingly huge snowfalls in our location at Bearskin. Mid-Trail is in the snowy sweet spot for the area. But honestly, the way we actually accumulate snow up here is by a little bit of snow falling constantly.That’s what it’s been doing this week. Every time we look out the window, it’s snowing lightly. Eventually, it adds up.
We’ll see what happens this week, but you can probably get your skis out and be ready to hit the trails again in the near future.
It snowed again yesterday and because Bearskin is full, we decided to groom the trails one more time. Bob was quite happy with how it turned out. He groomed Summer Home and Campground Ski Trails, so we have about 6 miles of newly groomed spring skiing. As usual for this time of year, your best skiing will be very early in the morning before the snow softens from the warming temperatures.
Next week’s forecast is fairly warm and non-stop sunny, so the strong March sunshine will probably be the demise of this new snow. If you are a guest or season pass holder, you are welcome to continue to use the trails for as long as they last. Forewarning to season-pass day-skiers: the blue porta-potties that got us through this weird winter are scheduled to be picked up soon. Plan accordingly, as there is no other open restroom on the trail.
We want to thank our guests, season pass holders, and day-ski visitors for working together so well to get us through the Covid-19 ski season. We know it was an inconvenience to have the Main Lodge mostly closed, but people were fabulous about it. Those blue porta-potties weren’t anyone’s idea of a good time, especially during the cold snap in February, yet most visitors were very understanding of the situation. We are grateful to you. Our goal was to get our staff through the season without anyone becoming sick, and that goal was accomplished. Thank you! We look forward to having the lodge open, a cozy fire in the lodge fireplace, our little bathrooms open and available, and a more normal ski season next year. See you then!
Just when we thought it was over, it snowed again!
Groomers report that the snow depth from this little spring storm was quite variable, probably due to gusting winds. There was less snow on the side trails than we wished for, but a good amount on the primary Summer Home section of the trail system. Bob groomed Summer Home and Campground, then groomed across the lake westward to the service road. The service road is groomed to East Bearskin Road, at which point the grooming ends. He added in that service road grooming to get a little extra skiing, but there was not enough new snow to continue grooming towards Oxcart or Poplar Creek. The side trails off Summer Home Road did not receive sufficient new snow for Bob to venture out with the Pisten Bully, so on our side of the trail system there is probably a 7+ mile stretch of skiing for a few more days.
On the Golden Eagle side of the trail system, they did Logging Camp and Deer Mouse, so that’s an additional ski option for you to try.
The bright March sun is already causing our new snow to melt. While the Gunflint Trail usually has excessive amounts of snow well into April, we now have almost the only snow left in Minnesota. It’s spring and 50+ degrees for most of the state, so we think this was likely to be the last trip out in the groomer for winter, 2021. It is is a gorgeous time for guests and season pass holders to get in one last day of skiing, but our snow may not last long. We have spring skiing conditions, as always in late March, so plan to ski early in the day before the snow softens.
It’s snowing! Theoretically we could get 4″- 6″ tonight, and then our temperatures stay a bit wintery for a few days. Bob will groom Summer Home and Campground ski trails in the morning, both of which still have remaining base in most places. Then he will decide if he can travel onto some of the side trails with the groomer. We shall see. Most likely there will be at least 6 miles of skiing open for the next few days, perhaps even more.
Bearskin is still full and busy, but most of our guests made peace with the possibility that skiing had come to an end and they were just going to enjoy being out in our beautiful woods. Well, surprise, surprise, pack your skis.
Bring your camera, too. We have regular late March guests who always make a point to check on the eagle’s nest. They report that the eagles are back. Quinn skied out to see for himself and had a great view of one of the eagles perched near the ski trail. The eagles’ return doesn’t often overlap with the ski season, so this is a cool opportunity to ski by them on the nest. Ask at the front desk if you don’t know where to look, and we will show you the place on the ski map.
Plus, we have a good northern lights forecast Sunday – Tuesday. It won’t be ideal conditions for a light show because the moon will be full, but it’s still worth a try.
We took a quick trip to the Twin Cities and realized that essentially the Gunflint Trail has the only snow left anywhere. It looks like April all over the state, including the North Shore and Grand Marais. It’s not until you have gone up the Gunflint Trail hill some distance that you start to see the first signs of snow.
Bob groomed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings. On our return back to the area, it looks like most of the side trails have seen better days and have some bare spots. Summer Home and Campground are still good, about 6+ miles of skiing.
We have rain or rain/snow in the upcoming week’s forecast, depending on which forecast you believe. If it’s a hard rain, that might be the end for ski season 2021. If it’s snow, we’ll try to groom again.
Our trails are holding up well in light of the low snow. We did not receive the snowstorm that hit southern Minnesota yesterday. There are some bare spots developing on the trails where the sun hits, especially on south-facing hillsides. Summer Home and Campground Trails still have a significant base, 8-10 inches in most places, and they should hold up for quite awhile longer. That equals about 6 miles of good skiing; we will keep it going as long as possible.
Bob groomed Summer Home, Campground, Beaver Dam, and Ox Cart Monday morning, and did a quick run again on Summer Home/Campground today. Skiers are pleased with the results.
Conditions are typical of spring skiing — hard trails in the morning, then the snow softens up when the sun hits it later in the day. With our warm sunny forecast, conditions will probably deteriorate unless we get more snow. We will just have to see what happens. It looks like the wrap-up to a very strange winter, but this is the Gunflint Trail — one never knows what the weather will do next.
So yes, the ski reports got away from us this year. For some reason, ski reports stopped right after Kate & Quinn’s new baby was born. 😊 Busy times. Everything will go more smoothly next winter. Meanwhile, here’s the situation as we near the end point of the 2021 ski season.
We have snow! We are skiing. It was a little dicey for a few days. The trails held up fairly well in warm temps until Monday afternoon, when the snow structure started collapsing. The lake appeared to be gigantic puddle — with 30 inches of ice underneath, but nonetheless, not skiable.
Wednesday night, when the Twin Cities had rain, thunderstorms, and tornadoes, Bearskin received 6-7 inches of fresh snow. More would have been even better, but this amount saved the day.
So now what? This buys us time. We’ll see what happens with the daily temperatures, and we will make the trails last as long as possible. The lakes might still be caution zones. The water that was on top of the old ice has frozen, but not very hard. Bob went through to water with the Pisten bully on a spot on Aspen today, which was not a fun moment. Unless you weigh 8000 lbs like the PB, this is less likely to happen to a skier — but pay attention on the lakes, as that top layer of ice is not as solid as the rest of the lake.
We have some highs in the 40s next week, and no snow in the forecast. Trails can survive that, but if the trails do become unskiable, we will open trails to snowshoeing, fat biking, and hiking. For many people who don’t ski, this is a very cool way to see the trails without skis. We are not ready for that change yet, but unless we get another big snowstorm soon then the 2021 ski season will come to a slightly early end.
It was fun to have such a warm winter (excluding the streak of the 10 coldest days ever!) but we didn’t receive as much snow as in most winters and this is the time when it’s starting to show.
We will update this blog as the season winds down, but also feel free to call or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) the front desk to ask about current conditions. They always have the up-to-the-minute view on what is happening.
We are back in our more typical snowy cycle. We had many days of snow over the past few week, and the groomers have been out numerous times. Conditions are great.
The BWCA connection, the section that can only be groomed with a snowmobile, has finally been groomed and tracked. (The machine that we use to groom that has been in the repair shop for a few weeks, so the section was just snowmobile packed — not ideal.) The slush on some lake crossings has been coming and going, but hopefully this cold snap that we have for a few days now will put an end to that annoying problem.
We aren’t expecting more snow for the rest of this week, with more snow in the forecast for the weekend. Sunny days ahead.
The Bearskin Virtual Nordic Ski Races are still going on. January was much more competitive than the first two months were. As is always the case, certain days and conditions result in faster times; there were some extraordinarily fast times on a few icy days earlier in the month. We still have a few days in the month and remember, every time you do the course you get another chance to win a prize, whether you had a fast or a slow time. Sign up here.
In other virtual race news, Bearskin will be one of the sites for Virtual Birkie Race in February. More info coming on that.
Thanks to all the local day-skiers who have been parking at Golden Eagle on Saturdays. It has greatly improved the unmanageable weekend congestion in the Bearskin parking lot.
No new ski reports, as not much has happened. We’ve received a little more snow since our last big snowfall, which is unusual for this time of year, but the very pleasant daily temperatures more than compensated for the lack of new snow. Skiing conditions have remained good.
We are happy to see some snow in the forecast for Thursday night and Friday. Amounts are diminishing for our area in the forecast, but we are in the sweet spot for snow, so we never know how it will turn out until the snowstorm gets here. Quinn will groom Friday morning no matter how much snow we get, so the tracks and corduroy will be fresh for the long weekend.
This weekend will be busy with day skiers. If you get to Bearskin’s parking lot and the parking seems packed then head over to Golden Eagle, which is another mile up the Gunflint Trail on Clearwater Road. We share the same trail system and the same ski tickets, but GEL often has available parking after Bearskin’s lot is overflowing.
We’ll update this after we see how much snow we get overnight.
It’s New Year’s weekend, always an extraordinarily busy weekend at Bearskin. We’d go so far as to say a “crazy weekend” at Bearskin. So we have a little advice if you are coming to visit our ski trail system:
A snowshoe trail is different from a ski trail. The middle of a ski trail is still a SKI TRAIL. Snowshoes ruin the trail for skiers. We have a really nice, separate snowshoe trail for you. Let us help you find the right trail!
Those “no dogs” signs on our trails mean = no dogs. Not even your dog. Dogs ruin the grooming. Quinn has to do a lot of extra work this morning redoing the trails because of someone’s dog yesterday.
Park at Golden Eagle! Start on the north side. If you get to our parking lot and there is not a sensible spot, park on the Golden Eagle side. So easy! So much smarter than some of the unsafe parking we saw yesterday.
You need to buy a ski pass. This is not a state-funded trail. These gorgeous trails through the woods don’t just happen— it takes so much work. Your ski tickets help fund all that effort.
Current snow measurements from Golden Eagle on 12/31:
New Snow Last 24 hours: 4.75” New Snow Last 7 days: 15.50” Trail Base, Staked: Average 5-8” Snow in Woods, Staked: Average 13-15” Groomed with classic track: 65 km Groomed with skate lane: 55 km Surface Conditions: Fresh snow Last grooming day: 12-31-20 Total season snowfall: 31.75”