One of my favorite all-time North Shore ski trails is Korkki Nordic, up in the ridgeline above the shore between Duluth and Two Harbors. Sally and I played hooky today and took a few laps on this terrific woodland trail. That was the first good choice of the day.
Korkki is a truly classic trail. It's narrow and winding and is groomed for classic skiing only. Because so much of the trail is in deep forest, more snow is required to open it safely. Last year, the trail might have been open only two weekends. This year, it's been open for two months already and going strong. I had to get out there before the snow all melts.
To reach Korkki, drive north on Homestead Road from the Highway 61 expressway (about halfway between Duluth and Two Harbors). After 2.5 miles, turn left on Korkki Road. About 0.5 miles later, watch for the small entrance sign on the right. You'll find ample parking around the terrific chalet. Bring a few bucks to add to the donation box at the trailhead, too.
The trail is one big narrow counter-clockwise 10 kilometer loop, with cut off points all along. The signage has changed a bit in the last few years...what was the "6K cut-off" is now the "5K cutoff." The trail isn't any shorter, but maybe someone got out there with a GPS.
Today I chose the 7.5K cutoff and climbed to the top of the Iso Maki Big Hill. Looking through the maple trees on the hilltop I could see the open blue waters of Lake Superior and the distant Wisconsin shore.
Then I fell on my ass, before I even headed down the big scary hill.
And then I got my skis pointed the right way and took on the hill itself. I flew by a sign so fast I couldn't read it...I think it said "Caution, hill ahead." Right about there, I had a small religious conversion, calling out "Jesus!" just as the trail got steeper yet and narrowed in between two large trees.
And I made it all the way down without falling again.
That's Korkki for you: choose your path, get a thrill, and it all works out.
On the long run back down to the chalet, I felt like a skiing god. With just a few kicks or pole pushes, I glided through the forest.
It was all so much fun, we chose to do it again.