Trails are in good to excellent condition. More snow expected on Tuesday night.
Wow, did we ever get a lot of snow! We’re excited to have great skiing for this holiday week.
A long-time guest, who has come up immediately after Christmas for 35 years, told us there’s never been a time in all those years when they didn’t have skiing. Honestly, we were getting a little worried that this would be the time when our trails would be a disappointment. Earlier, we’d received about 5 inches of snow and as usual, Summer Home and Campground were quite good, but the rest of the trails were C+ to B- skiing. Not a good base for the busiest week of winter.
Luckily, a major storm hit on Wednesday and dumped massive amounts of snow. We did not get any of the rain or ice that the North Shore received, just snow, snow, and more snow. Both sides of the trail system were Pisten Bully groomed on Thursday, and then groomers went out again this morning, so the majority of trails are now in very good condition. Skiing went from OK to great in just a couple days.
There are a few trails that are on the verge of opening, but that aren’t ready yet. They are the usual culprits, always the last trails to be groomable. The plan is to try to get Poplar Creek open during the day on Sunday. The BWCA section is still not ready. Lake connector trails have been snowmobile – groomed, but we need more ice in order to take the Pisten Bully groomers across the lakes. Overall, the vast majority of trails are open and in great condition. Each day that we go out grooming, this new snow will get packed down even more and conditions should continue to improve.
Important Day Skier Notes: You need to buy a Central Gunflint Trail pass to ski on our system. This is not a Minnesota state-funded ski trail, so the state ski pass does not apply. Both Golden Eagle and Bearskin Lodge are selling passes. You will need a mask to buy tickets (not needed to ski), and only one person from your group should come inside to buy tickets. Use your car as a base, there is no inside waiting area ta either resort. No bathrooms available at either lodge — Golden Eagle has a shower house bathroom open, Bearskin Lodge has those delightful blue outdoor porta-potties for day skiers. Ski rental is not easy this year — know your shoe size exactly, since trying on numerous boots outside is awkward and cold. Boots are Euro sizes, but almost every shoe these days is labeled with both US and Euro sizes. Save yourself some trouble, and look at your exact shoe size beforehand. Parking on busy ski days is always more available at Golden Eagle Lodge — drive the extra mile and you’ll have easier parking (and a slightly warmer bathroom.)
For more info, give either Golden Eagle Lodge or Bearskin Lodge a call. You can also email email@example.com. Grooming frequently occurs between the release of new trail reports. Expect trail grooming after every significant snowfall. For the most current grooming information, as well specific trail conditions, please contact Bearskin Lodge (218-388-2292) or Golden Eagle Lodge (218-388-2203).
New snow measurements taken today at Golden Eagle:
New Snow Last 24 hours: 1/8”
New Snow Last 7 days: 2.75”
Trail Base, Staked: Average 3”
Snow in Woods, Staked: Average 4-6”
Surface Conditions: Fresh snow
Last grooming day: 12-22-20
Total season snowfall: 16.25”
It snowed all day Tuesday, in preparation for the real dump of snow that is supposed to fall all day Wednesday. Finally, some serious snowfall is on the way.
Bearskin has most trails on the south side of the Central Gunflint Trail System groomed and open for both skate and classic skiing. We hope to get in a little grooming on Wednesday morning to freshen up a few trails, but realistically there will be major grooming on Thursday and Saturday. The predicted snowfall is exactly what all the trails need in order to go from “OK” to “great.” At this point, Poplar Creek on the west side, as well as Moose Ridge and the BWCA trail on the east side have not had enough snow yet to groom. Perhaps they will open later during the weekend, if we get the amount of snow they are predicting.
On the north side of the system, Logging Camp, Deer Mouse, Cross Fox, and Red Pines all are groomed with a classic track. Golden Eagle has a new Pisten Bully groomer this year, similar to the one that Bearskin owns, so they are excited to get out in some serious snow with their new machine. Some additional info from Golden Eagle about the north side trails: “Other items worth mentioning: North-South link north of Summer Home Road is open but is incredibly rocky yet and only groomed with a skate lane. Cabin Loop is also very rocky and only groomed with a skate lane. There is still some dirt present on some sections of the groomed trails, so B-skis are still our go-to right now.”
Predictions are for 4 to 7 inches (or more — the amount keeps increasing!) of new snow within the next 24 hours. As is often the case, the snow is falling over the holidays when our families are celebrating and many staff members have gone home, so you can anticipate that the grooming schedule will be a bit slower than usual. No one will be in the office on Christmas Day, so wait to call with your grooming questions until 12/26 or after.
Watch for another update here after the snowstorm.
Note: Grooming frequently occurs between the release of new trail reports. Expect trail grooming after every significant snowfall. For the most current 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. Passes can be purchased at both resorts. Masks required for pass purchases.
Yes, the Central Gunflint Trail System has skiing! Once again, we are one of the few places in Minnesota with natural snow for cross-country skiing. Do we have the amount of snow that we normally have in the days right before Christmas? Nope. Are people having a great time skiing? They are loving being able to ski in this snowless winter! We are lucky to be in the sweet spot that always gets snow, even in a terrible snow year.
Most trails on both sides of the ski system are open, with “early season,” low snow conditions. Campground and Summer Home Trails have been open for weeks and have been groomed numerous times. They are the best trails at this point. Most other trails have been groomed for the first time in the past few days. They have typical low snow conditions, with some sections that are good and some sections that need more snow. Quinn groomed both Oxcart and Bear Cub this morning for the first time. He was very happy with both of them, but especially with Bear Cub.
It’s been snowing almost every day, so that’s helping. Call either Bearskin or Golden Eagle for updated information about what is open.
Things you need to know this year:
- Ski passes are for sale in service areas at both Central Gunflint Trail resorts. One person at a time inside and please wear masks, according to Minnesota law. You don’t need a mask to ski, but you do need one to buy tickets or rent skis.
- Neither of the main buildings at Golden Eagle or Bearskin Lodge are open.There are no indoor warming areas, no inside bathrooms, no indoor area to try-on skis. Almost every cross-country ski area in Minnesota is operating this way this year and yes, it’s sort of awkward. Use your car as your base.
- No indoor bathrooms this year: There are portapotties for day skiers at Bearskin and a shower house bathroom at Golden Eagle.
- Yes, we are renting skis but if you are not staying here, it’s more difficult than in the past: Ski rentals are not easy this year. Most Minnesota X-C ski centers are not doing ski rentals this year, but we will give it a try. It’s easy if you are in a cabin, but if you are visiting there is no good place to try on your ski boots. Know your exact shoe size. Hopping around on one foot in the snow while you try on multiple pairs of boots is challenging. Ski boots come in Euro sizes. Look inside your shoes to see if you can find that number, as that might help. If you will be a guest here, call us ahead of time and we will put ski equipment in your cabin.
The November leg of the Bearskin Virtual Nordic Series has come to a close. We had a good month of racing on limited snow. In the men’s race, Quinn McCloughan took first place, followed by John Alt in second, and Tim Lederle in third. In the women’s race Olya Wright scored first place, followed by Maureen Hayes. (And no, Quinn won’t win any prizes — he’s just in there to give you a target. Beat that guy!)
The winners for each month will receive a gift certificate to Pioneer Midwest Ski Shop and a Bearskin Lodge ski hat. Everyone who entered the race will get one entry into the “end of the season” raffle and points for the overall title.
December race courses
There currently isn’t quite enough snow to open our December courses. To keep everyone’s competitive spirit high, we are opening up two bonus courses for December. There will be no prizes for these courses and they will not count towards the final standings, but they will give each participant another entry in the final raffle.
Course #1 will be a sprint around the Campground Loop including the landing, turning left. Start and end where the Beaver Dam Trail crosses the Campground Road.
Course #2 will be out and back on Summer Home, and must be skied classic. The course will start and finish at the Campground/Summer Home intersection and turn around at the end of Summer Home Road. On the return leg skiers will double back where the Logging Camp Trail crosses Summer Home, and ski the last section of Summer Home again before heading to the finish. All eligible efforts must have the word “classic” in their Strava activity.
Thanks to our generous sponsors, the Bearskin Nordic Ski Race Series has some amazing prizes. In total, there will be over $5000 worth of prizes awarded. You could end up being a winner because you skied super fast, but the race features a raffle for all entries — you don’t need to be the fastest skier to win a significant prize.
- The winner of each individual monthly race will receive a $20 gift certificate to Pioneer Midwest Ski Shop, one of our race sponsors, plus a Bearskin Lodge ski hat.
- The overall winners of the series will each receive a $500 lodging voucher for Bearskin Lodge and a pair of Alpina Pro Skate or Classic Boots.
- The winner of the “end of the season” raffle (one entry per race skied) will receive a $500 lodging voucher to Bearskin Lodge, a pair of Atomic Redster C7 Skintec skis, and a pair of Rottefella MOVE Switch bindings.
- The 2nd place raffle winner will receive a $250 lodging voucher, a Bearskin Lodge ski jacket, and a pair of Rottefella MOVE Switch bindings.
- The 3rd place raffle winner will receive a $100 lodging voucher, and a pair of Rottefella MOVE Switch bindings.
Learn more about the event and sign up at Bearskinnordicseries.wordpress.com
The future is a mystery in 2020, but the Central Gunflint Trail System is moving ahead with optimistic hopes for another fantastic ski season. We will figure things out as we move forward, just like all of us are doing on a daily basis.
This is what we do know:
- Our partner on the ski trails, Golden Eagle Lodge, just purchased a brand new Pisten Bully groomer for next winter, very similar to the one that Bearskin owns. This means there will be more consistency between trails as you ski from section to section. We’ve always taken great pride in the quality of our grooming on the entire Central Gunflint Ski Trail, and now the trails will be even better.
- Bearskin will not have a restaurant during the 2020-2021 ski season. Our restaurant is so tiny that it’s not realistic for us to maintain appropriate spacing while people dine. Food service will return when the world resolves Covid. For cabin guests this should be no big thing, as all Bearskin cabins have complete kitchens with dining areas. Fine dining is an enjoyable extra perk on a long, dark winter evening, but it isn’t essential to your cozy cabin experience here.
- We will do our best to keep you safe and healthy. Our protocols are in place for Bearskin guests. Start with this page to learn details about everything we will be doing for guests who are staying at the resort. Our summer and fall protocols got us through some risky times, so we will continue them into winter unless the time comes that we don’t need them anymore. We think we have excellent protocols in place for maintaining safe cabin cleaning and transitions.
- Day skiing — big differences this year: Both resorts on the Central Gunflint Trail System are mulling over our options for serving day skiers. Skiers on our trails have little contact with each other, so it’s a safe, socially-distanced activity. The Main Lodge will be closed to Day Skiers. Unfortunately, that means: No inside service for day skiers, no inside restrooms, no food service, and no picnic options except outside. Porta-potties will be available for day visitors. We were sure hoping things would be better for winter, but just the opposite happened. There are many, many cross-country ski trail systems that offer outstanding skiing without indoor accommodations, so it’s doable. But we understand that it won’t be as nice here for day skiers as it usually is. Realistically, it’s going to be easier to be a skier here in winter 2021 if you are staying at Bearskin.
- Masks on the ski trails? No, you are outside and on our trails you are usually far away from people. But consider stashing a mask in your pocket when you go out to ski, in case of an emergency situation. If you have to help someone, or if you need help yourself, it will be more comfortable if you have a mask handy.
- Cabin 6 will not be rebuilt for winter season. Most people have heard that Cabin 6 burned down one night last March.The process of rebuilding Cabin 6 has been greatly slowed down by the Covid era; we imagined that we could get going much faster than the way it has gone. Permits and plans were finally approved, but now our contractor is unavailable until late fall. If you’re here this winter you should be able to see how cool the new Cabin 6 will be, but the interior work won’t be done until after winter season. We have contacted all winter guests in Cabin 6 to make a new plan for 2020.
- What happens if there’s a complete state shut-down or stay-at-home order? This happened last winter, and we will follow the same procedures if it happens again. Cabin reservation deposits will be refunded or, if you choose, moved forward to next year. Season pass holders can ski as usual. Sales of daily ski passes will depend on what the actual mandate is. Passes will still be required and checked on the trails.
Anything is possible this winter, as we all know. For now, you can assume that the winter ski season will happen this year as usual. Our beautiful trails have the potential to be better than ever for 2020-2021.
There are still lots of available options for a winter ski getaway at Bearskin, but given that most people probably won’t be traveling on flights to distant winter locations this year we anticipate being extremely busy. You might want to make a winter reservation early to get your perfect dates. If something dramatic happens with our virus situation and we end up closing (hoping not!), Bearskin will do exactly what we did after closing on March 18, 2020, and fully refund all deposits — so when you make your plans, don’t worry about that part. This is a perfect winter to plan a close-to-home winter ski getaway at USA Today’s #3 ranked cross-country ski destination in America.
After a couple weeks with no fresh snow (very odd for us), we added about 8 inches of new snow over the past 24 hours. We have a great group of serious skiers here, so we did groom many of the trails throughout the day in the snowstorm. Skiers were very happy with conditions. We’ll be out grooming again tomorrow to get ready for the weekend.
Soup and chili will be available in the lodge all weekend — come on up to ski.
Will you be attending the World Cup Cross-Country Ski races in Minneapolis this week? Stop in at the Bearskin Mini-Lodge along the race course. Quinn will be there Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday and will be happy to chat. Hope to see you there.
Here’s a video of the Mini-Lodge going up in our garage. Now they’ll take the whole thing apart, put it on a trailer, and bring it to Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis, then set it up again.
We had a few bitterly cold days this week, but the temperatures have warmed up nicely for the long weekend. Conditions should be excellent all weekend.
We will be serving soup and chili in the Lodge and, as usual, hot chocolate, wine, and beer are also available for your enjoyment.
Our expectations are that the Bearskin parking lot will fill up early, as it almost always does on a 3-day weekend. We will have overflow parking available, but if you get here and find that the parking situation has gone crazy, we encourage you to drive just a little farther up the Gunflint Trail and start on the Golden Eagle side of the Central Gunflint system. Same snow, same trails, same tickets, same system, just an emptier parking lot. Many, many people ski from Golden Eagle to Bearskin, and eat lunch or have a glass of wine in the Bearskin Lodge before skiing back. It’s a great option if you discover that our parking lot is overwhelmed.
In other news, Kate and Quinn made a video of skiing all of the Bear Cub Trail this week. Since this is a trail that is too challenging for many skiers, we thought you might enjoy “skiing” along with them.
It snows almost every day. We are grooming multiple times each week. There’s been no melting, there’s been no rain. Conditions are outstanding.
Our temperatures have been relatively mild this winter, so the constant snow plus decent temps have made this a favorite winter for many skiers. There are a few cold days ahead, but then temps bounce back nicely. It’s a fantastic winter for skiing, but not much of a winter for writing exciting ski trail reports.
Quinn and Kate have continued to make videos of various ski trails in the system. Last week they focused on Bear Cub. Since not everyone dares to do this trail, you can watch the videos to ski Bear Cub vicariously. The uphill video looks grueling and the downhill video is super fast.
We have so much snow. The regular cycle of snow, groom, snow, groom, snow, groom, etc. continues. The groomers go out after every significant snowfall, and the trails are in excellent shape. So far this has been a snowy winter with relatively mild temperatures, but we haven’t experienced any temps or weather conditions that degraded the snow — no iciness, no sleet, no “mixed precipitation,” just lots more snow.
At this point we’ve received about 73 inches of snow this season. (There have been years when that was the snow total for the entire season — 2020 will obviously be a high snow winter.) Our trail base is averaging 14 inches. Skiers are very happy with conditions.
In other news, Quinn and Kate have been using our Go-Pro to create videos about trails, grooming, and even ski techniques. Videos are usually posted to the Bearskin Facebook page and to the Bearskin Wilderness Outfitters Facebook page, but here are links to all the videos so far. Next on the agenda (as soon as they get some better after-work daylight!) will be a video of ski tips for classic skiers.
Keep watching. We will start to post their new videos directly to this blog in the future.
Meanwhile, we probably won’t be blogging trail reports constantly because, face it, these are reruns — we are in a pleasant, repetitive winter pattern. Should conditions change dramatically, we will definitely post here. For the most recent grooming information, please contact Bearskin Lodge (1-800-338-4170) or Golden Eagle Lodge (1-800-346-2203).