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.

3.31.2022 That’s a wrap for grooming, folks

What an amazing ski season. So much snow, such great skiing. One of the best ever. It was a fun winter.

We still have lots of of snow, and probably will have it until …June. But we’ve run out of groomers. Both lodges are closing for the month of April, and the grooming crews are both going on vacation. So if you have a season pass, feel free to ski as long as you wish but expect to soon need to ski-in your trails. Both resorts will have staff and family on site and in the lodges during April, but it’s a time for cleaning and repairs.

Golden Eagle plans to groom on their side at least one more time, even though they are now closed. They will sell still half-price day passes while the grooming is good. On the Bearskin side it is possible that Quinn will groom a few trails — after all, Miss Molly must keep skiing. But all grooming ceases over here when they leave for vacation this weekend.
We will do it all again next winter!

Still skiing, but the grooming is about to end for the year.

3.25.2022 What a crazy night!

The wind howled, the snow blew horizontally, trees came crashing down, and the power went out repeatedly. Wind speeds were recorded as high as 66 mph in the Grand Marais Bay. Probably not that high in the Trail, but windy enough here to move lots of snow.

They regroomed this morning; Poplar Creek will not be done until later this afternoon. We had a couple inches of new snow that set up perfectly on top of the existing firm base, which resulted in setting a really nice track and an excellent skate deck. Conditions are surprisingly good for the end of March.

It is still quite windy. Expect windswept spots on trails and perhaps a few branches blown down. The sun is out, the sky is clear, and it’s a beautiful day to ski.

3.24.2022 The last spring snowstorm?

After a few days of warm temperatures and melting, it snowed heavily over the past two days. It’s a winter wonderland out there today. The fresh snow was wet and fell during fairly warm temperatures, but it groomed up nicely. Tomorrow the forecast predicts the weather will get colder again. We’ll just have to see what effect 20 degree temps have on this wet snow. Meanwhile, guests and visitors reported lovely skiing this morning and afternoon.

This may have been the last grooming of the season, or at least one of the last trips out in the groomer. Both Bearskin and Golden Eagle are closing for guests on April 1 this year. It is unlikely either groomer will go out after that date. Season pass holders are welcome to ski for as long as the trails are viable.