Proudly, the Upper-Midwest offers its fair share of cross-country skiing. While there are also a handful of downhill options here, I’m (extremely) terrible at down-hill skiing (one afternoon at Lutsen Mountain almost dissolved my otherwise happy marriage). I’ll let the downhill post go to a colleague.
Our neighbors in Cable, Wisconsin host the American Birkebeiner race each February—the largest and longest cross-country ski race in North America. I recommend trying part of the Birkie recreationally (the complete trail is over 62 miles long) and then enjoying an après-ski at nearby classic Garmisch Inn.
Just down the road from the Birkie is spectacular Rock Lake trail—one of my all-time favorites. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, this trail is a can’t miss. Rock Lake is recommended for classic-skiing, and rated as “intermediate”. If those parameters suit you this peaceful trail all but guarantees a great day. Mature white pine, and serene lake clearings are backdrops throughout. The trail offers nice run-outs after hills and it has been my experience that the trail is well-groomed. Nestled in Chequamegon National Forest, Rock Lake is wooded and northern enough so there is not typically much melt-off during the winter months.
If you want to stay closer to the cities, Hyland Park, Battle Creek, or even around the chain of lakes in Minneapolis are my go-to mid-week spots. While not as secluded as what you find up north, it’s fun to feel a part of the community of outdoor enthusiasts within the metro. There’s a real after-work warrior vibe at each of these, which is an inspiring reminder that the 4:30 sunset doesn’t have to mean complete hibernation.
My tips for gear center around light, insulative clothing that wicks moisture. Layering is key as conditions and aerobic levels can fluctuate dramatically. Don’t forget your sunglasses and sunscreen if you are going mid-day. Here’s some of my favorite gear for hitting the horizontal slopes. All would be great gifts for the snow buddy in your life:
Stay tuned for our next Gift Guide for the Business Professional in your life.