About Bearskin

Since 1925, Bearskin Lodge on the Gunflint Trail has been one of Minnesota's favorite wilderness resort destinations. The McCloughan family has owned Bearskin since 2007.

3.22.2023 So much snow, still great skiing

As is often the case, as the season winds down our ski reports did too. Don’t worry, it’s not for lack of snow. We have an astounding amount of snow. A little melting here and there made absolutely no impact on our giant snow piles. We think we’ve had around 120 inches of snow so far. We just received about 7- 9 more inches all day Wednesday. Quinn and Bob will groom Thursday morning, so the system should be beautiful for the coming weekend.

We will continue grooming until the end of March. The resort closes in April so that we can do repairs and deep cleaning. Officially we are done grooming then. But if you are a season pass holder, you are welcome to keep using the trails for as long as you find good skiing.

2.24.2023 Just the right amount of fresh snow here, all newly groomed

We don’t envy all of you who are still digging out from the big Minnesota/Wisconsin snowstorm yesterday. We only got a few inches of snow up here, just enough to make the trails even better. We do feel your pain as we had our 24-inch dump of snow earlier this season.

The challenge for us now is figuring out where to put all our snow. As you drive into Bearskin, you’ll see that our roads are increasingly narrowing and the roadside snowbanks are immense. According to Golden Eagle’s official measuring stick, we’ve had 84″ of snow so far this season — and we’re not done yet.

The ski trails are in excellent condition, just beautiful. Our upcoming forecast looks ideal. Lots of sun, just a little more snow to freshen up the trails, and moderate temperatures without being too warm. Perfect for a ski getaway.

Don’t forget to sign up for the Bearskin Nordic Ski Series. Quinn usually changes the race courses close to the beginning of each month, so there are only a few more days to ski the Oxcart and West Logging Camp race courses.

If you will be here during the weekend of March 4, Bearskin will be sponsoring a free ski clinic for Bearskin guests or anyone in the area. There will be two sessions of expert Nordic ski instruction from members of Team Birkie. The clinic is open to everyone, is free and will accommodate all experience levels. The schedule is as follows:

10:30-12:00 Classic Clinic (meet in the lodge)
12:00-12:45 Lunch Break (soup, chili, hot chocolate, wine and beer will be available in the lodge)
12:45-2:15 Skate Clinic (meet in the lodge)

Participants must have a Central Gunflint Ski Trail pass. Guests, of course, receive the passes free but otherwise you can purchase a ski pass at our front desk.

Hope to see you there!

2.18.2023 Good news! Our trails recovered nicely from our recent weirdo weather

It rained last week. Rain in February, that’s not something that happens often on the Gunflint Trail. Temperatures rose to 40+ degrees. Typical mid-February temperatures can often be -10 or -20 degrees. We were worried. The trails looked terrible.

Luckily, we also ended the run of weird weather with a nice amount of fresh snow. That didn’t work out as well for some trail systems closer to the North Shore, so we are thankful for our higher altitude location. The groomers were out on the trails Friday and Saturday, and once again we have great skiing throughout the system.

We are back to two Pisten Bully grooming machines now, since Golden Eagle received their replacement “loaner” machine. They also purchased a new Tidd-Tech snowmobile groomer like ours so that they can groom the lake trails without using the Pisten Bully. (Their earlier underwater adventure is not one anybody would choose to repeat!) What this means for your ski experience is that we can continue to get out to groom both sides of the system quickly and responsively.

If you’re here for the weekend, don’t forget that we have soup, chili, cookies, hot chocolate, wine and beer in the Main Lodge every afternoon. Parking in our lot can get a little crazy on holiday weekend afternoons. If you drive into our lot and parking looks hopeless, consider going back out to the Gunflint Trail and driving north to the next road, Clearwater Road — then you can start at Golden Eagle. Their parking lot never gets quite as insane as ours does. You are still skiing on the same trail system, but starting at a different point. Ski over and join us for lunch.

The Bearskin Virtual Nordic Ski series is at the halfway point for the season. It’s not too late to sign up. https://bearskinnordicseries.com/ The February race courses are probably very familiar to our regular skiers, as they are favorite trails. If you have any questions about what you need to participate in the race series, email quinn@bearskin.com. He will help you get set up.

2.1.2023 Lots of snow, warmer temps coming soon

It finally got chilly. Too chilly — a number of nights of -20 to -30. Skiers were still out there during the day because, of course, we also finally had clear, blue skies and sunny days. January featured mostly lovely temperatures up until the past week, nothing like the January weather we used to always get. After we survive a few more cold nights, we are returning to “balmy” winter temperatures for February.

Zach at Golden Eagle was out with his official measuring stick a few days ago and came up with these numbers:

New Snow Last 7 days:  4.25”
Trail Base, Staked:  Average 15”
Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 23-26”
Groomed with classic track:  70 km
Groomed with skate lane:   63 km
Surface Conditions:  Fresh snow
Last grooming day:  1-28-23
Total season snowfall:  71.25”

As usual, we are serving chili, soup, hot chocolate, beer, and wine in the Main Lodge every afternoon, and there are fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies for sale in the lodge. We’ll see you on the trails!

1.23.2023 Grooming News

January has been good to us. We’ve had warmish temperatures, a little new snow but not a deluge, and winds have been calm enough that our trees have remained nicely coated with snow. The temperatures are forecast to go down later this week, but we’ve had a good run of weather so far.

The down side of our consistently warm temperatures is that the ice on all our local lakes froze weirdly. We had a skim of ice, then two feet of snow, then warm days and more snow, then a few cold days — and the resulting ice is peculiar. This seems to be true all over Minnesota this year.

As some of you may have heard, the Pisten Bully belonging to our partners on the trail system, Golden Eagle, did go through a weak spot on the ice. Don’t worry, nobody was hurt. This was not on a section of the ski trail system, so it didn’t happen in a place you routinely ski. We have decided to only groom our lake trails with snowmobile groomers for now. Our Tidd-Tech snowmobile groomer actually grooms a pretty nice trail on the lake, so you may not even notice that the Pisten Bully hasn’t been out on the lake. The lakes are perfectly safe for you to ski across, as long as you don’t weigh 15,000+ pounds.

Until GEL figures out what happens next with their PB, we are sharing our new Pisten Bully with them. So far that’s working fine, but if we get a big snow then it may take us a little longer to groom the entire system.

Coming up: Colder temperatures! (But not terrible.)

1.6.2023 The New Year is a perfect year for skiing

Bearskin’s new Pisten Bully

The Central Gunflint Trail System always has ample snow; we have the perfect location for constant winter snowfalls. But some years the snow is pretty good, some years it’s great, and some years we get walloped with snow. 2023 is looking like one of those “walloped” years. We already have more snow than we sometimes have by March. Ski conditions are outstanding.

We are often asked how frequently we groom the trail system, especially when it snows so often. The Central Gunflint Trail system is groomed by Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle with state-of-the-art Pisten Bully groomers. (For those who have been thinking about PB’s lately because of a news story, don’t worry–both of our machines scream quite long and loud if the door is opened when the brake is not engaged.)

We don’t groom on a set schedule. We are out grooming after every snowfall and whenever a section of the trail is not perfect. Even on days when the entire system isn’t groomed, the groomers are often out renewing well-used trails. Both resorts have made a huge financial investment in top-quality equipment to maintain our trail system, and guests are super happy with the excellence and frequency of our trail grooming.

Bearskin just took delivery on a new PB to replace our 2014 (which replaced a decades-old machine.) We’re training in a new driver. When he’s not preoccupied with eating goldfish crackers, he can tell us exactly when the PB is going “UP!” or “DOWN!” He should be ready to take charge of the grooming operations by 2043.

Preparing to take over in about 20+ years.

All trails are in excellent condition now, with the exception of some slushy lake crossings (due to heavy snow) and the well-loved Poplar Creek Trail. Parts of Poplar Creek that cross swamps have not totally frozen yet. Poplar Creek is usually the last trail to freeze up, but this year might be going for the record. We’re happy to say Oxcart Trail’s wet spots have frozen now and that trail is open.

Here are the latest snow measurements and the report from Golden Eagle, on January 2:

New Snow Last 7 days:  3.75”
Trail Base, Staked:  Average 12”
Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 21-24”
Total season snowfall:  59.00”

Comments: The snow is great! The trails are great! Near perfect skiing conditions right now! With temps holding in the upper teens and 20’s through the week, expect fast conditions and great glide. The skate deck is excellent, holding firm while still allowing for a good ski bite. The classic track is deep and solidly set. The debris from last week is also gone, buried under the 4 inches of newly groomed in snow that has since fallen.

While Poplar Creek Trail remains temporarily closed, Oxcart Trail and the BWCA section of Logging Camp Trail are both open. If you haven’t been out skiing in a while, this is the perfect time to get back in! We can’t say enough great things about how happy we are with the skiing right now!

Grooming frequently occurs between the release of new trail reports. For the most up to date grooming information, as well specific trail conditions, please contact Bearskin Lodge (218-388-2292) or Golden Eagle Lodge (218-388-2203). Central Gunflint Ski Pass Required.

12.20.2022 So much snow, so much grooming

Lower Beaver Dam Trail

It’s snowed and snowed and snowed. The big snow last Wednesday and Thursday was a tough storm to recover from. It required several days of packing, grooming, and especially cutting out downed and bent trees, broken and contorted by the heavy snow. Our groomers had to jump out every few minutes (or seconds) and wade through waist deep, unpacked snow to cut out the branches. It was exhausting. You’ll still see rainbow-shaped trees, heavy with snow, along all the trails. Trees are continuing to break from the snow’s weight, but we will keep after them. We had a storm 7 years ago that we call the “Bend-Down” (as opposed to the famous “Blow-Down” of 1999) that resulted in thousands of bent trees. When you look into the woods now, you still see hundreds of those bent trees from that storm — they just kept growing that way. This storm will probably leave its mark also.

We’re grooming trails daily now to get them in perfect condition. We groom responsively to snow conditions, not on a set schedule. We have snow in the forecast every night, so ask at the front desks of both resorts to see what’s been groomed most recently.

There are a few trails that will be out of commission for a little longer yet, due to water problems. We’ve had a strange early winter, with lots of insulating snow and many warmish days. Nothing is as frozen as it should be by this date. Any trail crossing a lake is a mess now. We’re finding just a little ice with a foot or more of snow on top, and tons of slush. Very bad conditions. Just don’t try to go on the lake crossings at all until we have a longer run of cold weather.

Also, Oxcart and Poplar Creek have water problems. Poplar Creek is always late to open due to flowing water, so that’s no surprise. But this year Ox Cart has serious problems where it crosses the swamp. Bob was trying to pack it down a few days ago and went right through to his waist in cold water. Not fun. So we need that swamp to freeze more solidly before the rest of the trail can be accessed.

Season passes and daily ski tickets are available for sale at both Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge. Remember, this ski trail system gets no state aid so the Minnesota ski pass does not apply to these trails.

12.9.2022 We’re skiing on the Central Gunflint Ski Trail System!

Are you ready to ski? The beautifully groomed trails of the Central Gunflint Trail System are now groomed and open.

Grooming 12.4.2022. Photo by Ruth Wagner

Skiing on the Central Gunflint Trail System is off to a great start. We received 24 inches of snow in November, but since that time (as is typical in our location) we’ve been receiving more new snow almost continuously. Most trails have been Pisten Bully groomed, and so far everyone has been very happy with ski conditions for both classic and skate skiing.

Ski passes are now available at both Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge. This year’s ticket is purple. Of course, when you stay at either resort, your ski pass is included and you do not need to pay extra to ski. We know that’s what you came to do!

But if you’re staying elsewhere or if you are a local skier, then you will need a pass to ski on our trails. Bearskin and Golden Eagle do all the grooming and extensive maintenance on these trails ourselves and we do not take any state money, so the Minnesota ski pass is not valid here.

Here are the latest official snow measurements from Golden Eagle:

Central Gunflint Ski Trail Conditions on December 8, 2022

New Snow Last 24 hours:  Light Dusting
New Snow Last 7 days:  6.50”
Trail Base, Staked:  Average 5”
Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 18”
Groomed with classic track:  45 km
Groomed with skate lane:   55 km
Surface Conditions:  Fresh snow
Last grooming day:  12-8-22
Total season snowfall:  30.50”

Comments: Ski season is well underway! We received around 24 inches of powdery, light snow in November, which has since been compacted into a nice firm trail base. Conditions are extremely good this year for early-season skiing!

Grooming frequently occurs between the release of new trail reports. For the most up-to-date grooming information, as well specific trail conditions, please contact Golden Eagle Lodge (218-388-2203) or Bearskin Lodge (218-388-2292). Central Gunflint Ski Pass Required.

11.22.2022 Ski season 2022 plans

The question at the beginning of the year every season is always: When will there be enough snow to groom and open the trails? The answer this year is “soon.”

The Gunflint Trail received more than 20 inches of light, powdery snow last week, a great start to the season. Good preparatory snow — this snow compacts after grooming to a much smaller amount, but it’s a great start. Summer Home and Campground Trails have had two rounds of grooming, and the trails have pretty good early season skiing conditions. In the next few days our temps are going to get above freezing so things will probably get icy, but we have so much snow yet to come.

The primary groomers for both resorts are on vacation until around 12/1, and then we anticipate we will be out grooming on the trails every day.

At Bearskin we have a BIG surprise that is (hopefully) arriving during the first week of December from Kassbohrer — our brand new, state-of-the-art Pisten Bully groomer. We replaced our ancient, 30+ year old Pisten Bully groomer about 7 years ago and loved the extraordinary quality of our newly groomed trails. A lot had changed in three decades! We made a decision then to continue to upgrade and stay on top of the newest technology. We’ll tell you all about it when the new machine arrives, but the trails are going to be even better than before. High excitement here.

Meanwhile, we’ll post as soon as Quinn and Ruth are back from their vacations and start working full-time on the trail system. It’s going to be a fantastic year for skiing on the Central Gunflint Trail System.

Get ready for winter at our ski clinic

Get ready for the upcoming winter ski season with a free ski clinic offered by the American Birkebeiner’s training team,“Team Birkie.”

Join Team Birkie athletes for a fall training clinic at Bearskin Lodge on Friday and Saturday, October 28th-29th.

Start your weekend with a waxing clinic in the lodge wax room Friday evening. On Saturday the clinic will consist of two sessions: an on-foot pole-hiking, bounding, and plyos session in the morning followed by a sit-down training Q&A session in the afternoon. Come enjoy the Northwoods in late fall, learn some training tips, and pick the brains of Team Birkie athletes as they prepare for races from 1.2k to over 50k in length this winter!

The wax clinic starts at 7:00pm; meet in the Bearskin wax room.

The Saturday morning workout begins at 10:00 AM and the Q&A starts at 5:00 PM. Meet at the Main Lodge for both.

The clinic is free to all and you do not need to be a Bearskin guest to participate. Please RSVP to quinn@bearskin.com if you plan to attend or have any questions. Lodging is still available at inexpensive “Value Season” rates. Do your training and enjoy a fall adventure in the far north. Call (218)388-2292 or email stay@bearskin.com for a cabin reservation.