1.18.2022 More of the same, lots of snow and continuous grooming

We are in the cycle where we get tons of snow, we groom the trails, there are a few great days of skiing, and then we get another big snowstorm. Repeat, repeat. Call to find out where we are in the grooming cycle on any given day, but generally you can trust that the groomers will be out the next morning after every snowfall. It generally takes all day to complete all the trails on both sides. For planning purposes, you can predict that Poplar Creek will usually be the last trail groomed. Bob and Quinn on our side and Ruth and Zach across Flour Lake try to get all thee central sections done first. Then usually we do Bear Cub and eventually Poplar Creek, when everything else is done.

If you love to race, the Bearskin Virtual Nordic Ski Series is back again for 2022. After all, if we are stuck indefinitely in a pandemic then we might as well keep doing the few fun things that came out of the Covid-era. Sign up on the website. You’ll need a GPS device and a Strava account to track your race time. Call Quinn or talk to him at the front desk if you need help figuring this out. https://bearskinnordicseries.com/

1.9.2022 Finally, first grooming update of 2022

So it snowed, and snowed, and snowed. The groomers have been going out almost daily to redo the trails. Last year we had a winter where we received a lot of snow early in the season–and then it rarely ever snowed again. We had enough snow to have a good ski base, but without fresh snowfalls the base became harder and icier. Maintaining the trails became quite challenging. 2022 is shaping up to be a much different winter. All trails are in great shape.

We’ve had an extremely cold first week of January. Conventional weather wisdom has always been that early January is brutally cold, but during the last 10 years that has not usually been true. This past week, however, was wickedly cold, as well as windy. Newly groomed trails were often blowing over soon after the groomers went through. In better news, we have a warm-up coming next week that will make it easier to appreciate the good ski conditions. Not dramatically warm, but definitely an improvement.

We will continue to groom whenever there is a new snowfall.

The Main Lodge building is still open to the public 7:30 AM to 6 PM to buy trail passes and to warm up. We are requiring masks in order to be inside the Main Lodge building, and people have been fabulous about doing this. We worried that we would need to close the building because people wouldn’t follow directions, but we haven’t seen any of that. We do have simple masks at the front desk if you forget yours, so just ask. We want to make it easy for you to help us stay open.

12.27.2021 Great skiing for the holiday week

We were seriously pummeled with fresh snow over the past two days. It’s all been groomed and conditions are excellent. we will need a few passes to create a very firm skate deck again, but everything is looking good. It’s beautiful on the trails, with snow coating all the pine boughs like a fantasy winter scenario.

There was a “mud pit,” as Quinn called it, on Poplar Creek until this snowfall. He thinks he won the battle this time.

Snowmobilers already destroyed the Bear Cub grooming. It’s a little early for this nonsense to start. The “I have no idea where I am” excuse means nothing to us. We will report snowmobilers who wreck our trails to the enforcement officer for the Superior National Forest, and there will be tickets issued. Meanwhile, Quinn will go out and do it all again as soon as he has the time.

If you visit us to ski for the day, please be aware that due to the new omicron surge, a mask is required in order to enter the Main Lodge. Both Bearskin and Golden Eagle hoped to have our lodge buildings open this winter. Nobody loved last winter’s blue porta-potties in -20 degree weather. But for the safety of the people we employ, our lodges will need to close the main buildings if the masking requirements aren’t observed. We’re happy to give you a mask if you need one, and appreciate your help with this so much. This is going to be a beautiful winter season here this year, if only we can manage to stay safe and open!

12.21.2021 A tale of ever-changing trails

Bearskin and the Central Gunflint Ski Trail had fantastic early-season skiing after our 22-inch snowfall. Then we had the state-wide big melt, and our trails took a big hit. We still had snow and skiers were out there every day, but conditions were just OK, at best. Bob, Quinn and Collin shoveled snow over some bare sections, kept grooming and cleaning up areas, and made it work. Skiers told us that we had the only skiing left in the state on natural snow, which could have been true.

A cool thing about our Central Gunflint Trail location is that it snows here ALL the time in winter. We often build our snow base up by adding a few inches at a time, every day. That’s what we have going on now — a little snow falling day-in, day-out. Today we had a nice snowfall that should finally give the groomers a substantial amount of snow to work with again. The groomers are going out tonight and Wednesday morning, so soon our trails should be back to “better than OK.” We will start posting regular trail reports again, now that we will have some real grooming news.

12.06.2021 We’re skiing!

The ski season has officially begun on the Central Gunflint Trail. More than 20 inches of fresh powdery snow came down yesterday and last night. Never have we gone from zero to groomed trails so quickly!

Quinn went out early with the Pisten Bully groomer and did Summer Home, Campground, and Upper and Lower Beaver Dam Trails. He did many passes on Campground and Summer Home, and felt that those trails firmed up nicely for a first grooming. The Beaver Dam Trails are a bit softer, he reports, but they will firm up tonight as it gets much colder. He says there is just a little stubble on one troublesome grassy spot on Beaver Dam, but overall the first trails groomed up nicely. Golden Eagle has also been out with their Pisten Bully today, so we will report back on which trails they were able to groom.

Temperatures are dropping dramatically today and we now have high winds. The snow will probably be shifting around on the trails. We will be grooming every day, so we will keep you posted as more trails become available. It’s a great start to the season.

Ski passes are now available to buy at both Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle. The Central Gunflint Trail system is rated as one of the best cross country ski trail systems in the US, featuring 77+ K of expertly groomed skate and classic trails through the deep woods of the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. It’s a unique ski experience unlike any other cross country ski trail system in Minnesota. Season, daily, and half-day passes are can be purchased at either lodge. See you on the trails!

11.28.2021: Almost ski season!

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.

3.28.2021 Last snow, last grooming — for real

Grooming with the Pisten Bully on Summer Home Road early this morning, Sunday, March 28. Final grooming for the season.

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!

3.25.2021 One last trail grooming for the season

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.

3.23.2021 Enough snow to groom again!

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.

3.20.2021 Summer Home and Campground are your best bet

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.