Monday, December 27, 2010

Back to Boulder Lake ski trails

The cross country ski trails at Boulder Lake Management Area are one of the most popular cross-country ski areas in the whole Duluth area, and for good reasons:
  • The wide trails rolling through beautiful forest
  • Great grooming and thoughtful maintenance
  • Free hot chocolate in a lakeside cabin
  • Opportunity to ski with leashed dogs every Thursday and Sunday
    Oh, and did I mention that it’s free? Boulder Lake is a reservoir and the land around it is managed as part of Minnesota Power’s regulatory requirements in managing its reservoir system for hydro power. 

    To reach the Boulder ski trails, head north from Duluth on Rice Lake Road, aka Highway 4. It's 18 miles north of Duluth, or about a half-hour drive. Just past the crossing of Island Lake, turn left on Boulder Dam Road. 

    The system has evolved over the years to meet the changing and growing demand of its loyal users. The trails started as double-tracked for two side-by-side classic skiers. They were widened to accommodate skating and now provide some of the smoothest and easiest skating in the region.

    The changes continues. This year there is a new “East” parking lot, right off Highway 4. This takes you into what used to be the most remote part of the system, the Nine Pine and Lonesome Grouse trails. There's also a new loop through a campground.

    The traditional narrow trails north of the warming shack are so traditional this year they’re not even going to be groomed by machine. This is a loss as far as I'm concerned...the Otter Run loop was one of my favorites.

    Finally, there are fancy new interpretive signs on the “Bear Paw” loop. They are carefully placed so you whiz by none of them. Stop and learn about sustainable forest management.

    For more information:
    Call the ski hotline for grooming updates: (218) 721-4903

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