Skiing

Minnesota’s North Shore is home to some of the best cross country skiing in North America. A lucky bit of geology created the rugged Sawtooth Mountains and the world’s largest freshwater lake. To this amazing landscape, add consistent snowfall and ski trails built by the descendants of Scandinavian logging and fishing families. With over 700 kilometers of groomed ski trails for you to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect skiing experience.


Skiing the North Shore

A guide to cross country trails in Minnesota's spectacular Lake Superior region

A skier’s ultimate guidebook to the North Shore, describing 35 groomed trail systems from Duluth and Superior to Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail.… read more


Posts from Skiing

Are you addicted to skiing? Take this easy test!
November 27, 2012 by Andrew Slade

Are you addicted to skiing? Take this easy test!

Are you addicted to skiing? Take this easy test and find out!So we're starting to get some halfway decent early season snow on the North Shore ski trails. In some places, the groomers are even out fixing up ski tracks. Just how committed are you to cross country skiing? How many pairs of skis do you own?A) ZeroB) 1-2C) Not enough How far have your friends ever driven for a ski outing?A) 1 mileB) 2-10 milesC) Idaho, AlaskaDo you apply storage wax to your skis in the spring?A) What’s storage wax?B) No I just leave on whatever goop I last … read more


Banff Mountain Film Festival…in Duluth
November 16, 2012 by Andrew Slade

Banff Mountain Film Festival…in Duluth

Take 200 skiers, hikers and climbers out of their funky North Woods cabins. Dress them up in wool and recycled nylon. Send them for a night out at the movies. Pack them all into a high school auditorium and show them films of beautiful wild places and crazy outdoor adventures. That's the annual Banff Mountain Film Festival event in Duluth, and it's happening again this Sunday and Monday, November 18 and 19.  This is a seriously special event for Duluth:Like November snow, it's totally freshThese films are the winners from a festival in Banff Alberta that just wrapped up a few … read more


Tour Duluth 2012: SKI THEM ALL
March 13, 2012 by Andrew Slade

Tour Duluth 2012: SKI THEM ALL

Hans at Chester Bowl, Trail #5, 1:45 PM Tour Duluth is the year-end celebration of Duluth's great cross country ski trails. It's organized by the Duluth Cross Country Ski Club, or DXC for short. Duluth has over 80 kilometers of groomed ski trails spread from far west to far east, and including both city trails, a private system, and the University's nature area trail.  Mark at the Magney Ski Trail trailhead. Trail #1, 8:30 AM We were going to SKI THEM ALL. Some people try to ski all 80-plus kilometers in a day. Not me. It was quantity over quality for me. I … read more


The great lake swirl: WAY better late than never
March 6, 2012 by Andrew Slade

The great lake swirl: WAY better late than never

What an amazing day we had on Saturday here in Duluth. The meteorologists got it all wrong in the right way. What started as a forecast of an inch or two of snow overnight turned into the biggest single dump of snow we've had in over a year. Apparently, two air masses ran into each other over the western part of Lake Superior and the resulting lift sucked the moisture out of the open lake water and turned it into snow. Lots of snow. Snow that fell all day. We shoveled three times just for the joy of shoveling. Meteorologists, at … read more


A great classic-only ski trail in Brule
February 12, 2012 by Andrew Slade

A great classic-only ski trail in Brule

I have a new favorite ski trail. Call me old-fashioned, but that trail happens to be the "Classic Trail" at the Afterhours trail system in Brule, Wisconsin. It's been such a disappointing snow year in Duluth and on the North Shore, so I've been delighted to take a 45-minute drive through Superior, Wisconsin and east along US Highway 2. In fact, I went twice this weekend. Not only do they have ample snow there, but they have a great 7 kilometer trail. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="357"] No skating allowed on the lovely Classic Trail at Brule.[/caption] Unlike the rest of the trail system … read more


Desperate times, 2011 edition
December 17, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Desperate times, 2011 edition

The winter of 2011-2012 is off to a slow start. Nature has not provided much snow to the North Shore area. I've chronicled desperate times before in this blog, from back in 2008, when we weren't skiing until late December and I biked on the beach and ran screaming down ski trails. I'm grumpy now, wanting to get out on real snow on a real trail. The Duluth Denfeld Hunters Nordic Ski team has been skiing on snow for two weeks now. Thanks to the generosity of Spirit Mountain, the Denfeld team has been able to practice and race on the … read more


Skiing Silver Bay: The best first K on the shore
March 29, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Skiing Silver Bay: The best first K on the shore

It took me all winter and part of the spring to get back there, but yesterday I skied on my absolute favorite first kilometer of ski trail on the North Shore. Every ski trail has its charms in how it starts, but no trails have a first kilometer that is more intimate, welcoming and scenic than this one. It's at the Northwoods Ski Touring Trail outside of Silver Bay. Skiers looking for this charming ski trail have no choice in the matter; from the parking lot on Penn Boulevard, every skier heads up the first kilometer of trail before they can … read more


Sugarbush: Groomed or ungroomed, still the best North Shore skiing
March 13, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Sugarbush: Groomed or ungroomed, still the best North Shore skiing

Twenty years ago, my wife Sally and I rolled down Highway 1 from Ely to the North Shore with our cross country skis for a weekend with my parents. I had never skied on big wide groomed ski trails before, only on the winding skier-packed trails of the Superior National Forest. We skied on the Sugarbush Trails, just inland from Tofte. It was mind-blowing. I felt like I'd died and gone to heaven. I still remember the thrill of gliding down the well-groomed hairpin turns of the Sixmile Crossing trail. The view of Leveaux Peak rising above the fields in the … read more


Erkki Harju says "Ski" in Two Harbors
March 3, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Erkki Harju says "Ski" in Two Harbors

  In twenty years of skiing on the North Shore's groomed trails, I've seen a lot of signs with basically the same message: Please don't walk on the groomed ski trail. I even remember the Nordic ski coach back in high school pleading with students in a school assembly to stay off the ski tracks around the athletic fields. But this sign, which I found yesterday at the Erkki Harju ski trail in Two Harbors, is by far the goofiest and maybe the most effective I've seen. No, that is not Erkki Harju himself with the shovels and the drawl. According to … read more


No-wax skis: The cure for the Woodland Goodies faceplant
March 1, 2011 by Andrew Slade

No-wax skis: The cure for the Woodland Goodies faceplant

It's spring! Time to break out your fish scales. No, not the device to weigh your catch of walleye. I mean the skis you have with the grippy surface underfoot.  It's March 1, the start of meteorological spring, and there is still a whole lot of snow on the North Shore. The ski season could go on for at least another month. But it's time to swap speed for sanity...and safety. The main reason people use no-wax skis is convenience. You just put them on and go. You don't have to worry about what kick wax to use. You do … read more