Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Pattison Park: Skiing the snowbelt
In my last posting, I got a little carried away with the spiritual revelation I experienced skiing at Pattison State Park. In fairness to my readers and my mission of getting them out into the woods, I'm following up with the nitty-gritty details.
Pattison State Park is twelve miles south of Superior on Highway 35, a.k.a Tower Avenue. You go through Superior's mall strip and through the town of South Superior, then past three or four Packers bars. The park entrance in on the left, just after you climb up a distinct ridge.
You need to have a park vehicle permit to ski in the park. There is no other ski license required. The permits are available at the park office. The office is closed most days, so you will have to use the self-registration station. Bring exact change in bills: $3 for an hour, $7 for the day. Or bring a checkbook and a pen.
There are three loops. All skiers start on the 2.4 km Red Loop, which is a nice level run through hardwood forests, past a scenic view down into the Black River valley. The Orange Loop peels off the Red Loop and runs near the river. It's now rated as Most Difficult. The Blue Loop is a scenic 3.5 km journey, rated Intermediate, along the Black River, through big white pines and past large basswood trees.
The trail system has been updated and re-aligned since our book Skiing the North Shore was printed. The directional signage has had a major work-over, with colored arrows pointing the way for each loop. The idea is that you can follow the Orange arrows, for example, and do the entire system. The Blue arrows take you to the Red Loop and the Blue Loop. And the Red arrows just do the Red Loop.
This is the only place I've ever seen this system; I didn't understand it until just now as I'm writing this.
Maybe because of this change, the Blue Loop has gone from clockwise to counterclockwise. This was a bit of a mistake, since it turned what was a uphill climb with some tight turns to a treacherous downhill run. I was not the first to side-step down that section.
Regardless of the change in signage, the trails are lovely and there's plenty of snow. Get out and enjoy!