After 4 years of poor snow conditions we are finally going through a “normal” winter. The Minnesota DNR lists snow depth up the shore at 40+ inches but we call BS on that- there are spots where we measured snow depth at five feet! Needless to say the trails are excellent but we keep getting snow including a forecast that has snow Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with a chance for more by Tuesday!
After a week of record breaking cold we are left with abundant snow and excellent trails. The plan for most is to groom Friday night but the whole system may not get done in one night. The trails were all in excellent shape before the cold so the base is incredible but we have had a lot of blowing and drifting which means if the groomer doesn’t get to everything you may have to contend with some big drifts aka FUN! The boondocking possibilities are also looking very promising. Temps on Saturday should be in the twenties with flurries in the forecast all weekend- perfect riding weather. We expect traffic to be heavy so take advantage of the GIA trails and explore a little bit. Have fun, be safe, and we will see you on the trail!
Northeast Minnesota trail conditions are as follows: Freaking Awesome! There are two issues- first it is brutally cold so bundle up, second the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon starts Sunday and will be running on the CJ Ramstad North Shore State Trail out of Duluth starting at noon. We suggest avoiding this trail for the week or stop at one of the trail intersections, campout and watch the dogs go by and remember that the entire concept of the modern snowmobile was to essentialy be a motorized dog sled. (See the January 2014 blog for the history of the snowmobile and how it pertains to the dog sled) enjoy the weekend and stay warm!
Today we just had a snowmobiletrail.com staff ride with a few friends and family joining in. The temperature was brutally cold (-19F) but the trails were perfect. Our day wrapped up with watching some snow move in off of Lake Superior, so you currently have a perfect base with fresh snow on top- it doesn’t get much better than that!
All of the trails in Northeast Minnesota have been groomed this week and, with the cold weather, are solid as a rock. We suggest using ice scratchers if you have them. We rode the other night and even though the sleds were as smooth as glass they were as hard as glass as well. Northeast Minnesota has see a record number of sleds over the past two weeks and several of the southern trails (around Duluth) have developed bare spots, better conditions can be found from Two Harbors north as they have benefitted from some lake effect snow. Last week there were so many sleds that a trail that started off perfect at 8 AM was trashed by noon. With the cold temperatures we expect less traffic this weekend and, even with heavy traffic, the base is now so hard that it should wear very well. Ideally we would like some more snow but that snow keeps going south where they don’t want it. Send us some of that snow up this way, eh!
The Arrowhead region of Minnesota boasts the highest seasonal snow totals in the state with the higher elevations around Lake Superior receiving over 100 inches of snow annually. Add to that that Northeast Minnesota is usually the first area in the Midwest to receive rideable snow and also one of the last to have it melt and it is understandable why that area of the state is deluged with snowmobilers from surrounding areas both early and late in the season. Like our neighbors in northeast Wisconsin and the U.P., we see tremendous traffic and with only about 1,000 miles of trails with good snow cover, grooming can become a losing battle for the clubs and the DNR when the rest of the Midwest is suffering from lack of snow. So how do you make the most of your trek to Northeast Minnesota? It all starts with taking advantage of the grooming schedule. The centerpiece of the Northeast Minnesota trail system is the CJ Ramstad North Shore State Trail. This 150 mile gem will be the trail that leads to all of the other trails in the system. All of the trails will be groomed
at some point by the local clubs during the week so if you hit the trail Saturday morning you will find your Grant In Aid trails to be in the best shape of the weekend. We suggest taking advantage of the Grant In Aid trails on Saturday as they will be in the best condition and will also have less traffic. So many people that visit the area often ignore these trails for the more famous North Shore Trail but if you do this you are missing out on some of the most fantastic trail riding you will ever experience, not to mention epic scenery and photo opportunities. By Sunday most of the Grant In Aid trails will have been heavily ridden and portions of them may or may not be groomed Saturday night as some clubs have such large systems it is impossible to reach every mile of their trails in one evening. The North Shore Trail, however, is groomed from end to end every Friday and Saturday night with local clubs each being assigned a section of trail, this also pulls those particular groomers off the Grant In Aid trails for the night making it even harder for them to groom their entire system unless they possess multiple groomers and have multiple available operators. This makes the North Shore Trail your best bet for Sunday. Also, the farther north you get the farther into the wilderness you are, making food and fuel stops essential. If someone can carry extra gas and oil on their sled it is good idea as fuel stops are few and far between- so take advantage of them when you see them. It is also a good idea to bring a winter survival kit with you as a breakdown in this part of the state could mean an unexpected evening outdoors. If you follow these simple steps you will have good trails all weekend long as well as an abundance of good times and excellent memories!
Last weekend the trails were beautiful, for about a day, and, after taking a record amount of traffic they were beat to death. Many trails were groomed again Saturday night but by the end of the day were once again trashed. All of the State and GIA trails have been groomed again and many are slated to be groomed Friday and Saturday night. The Status looks like this: around Duluth there is about 14 inches of snow on the ground with roughly 5 to 6 inches of trail base. Once you reach Two Harbors we are looking at 20 inches of snow with a 6 to 7 inch base and from Finland north to Grand Marais we are at about 30 inches with a 7 to 8 inch base. The farther you get away from Lake Superior, the less snow there is, that is the bad news, the trails are getting heavy traffic from southern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and the Dakotas. All are welcome but be safe and be aware that the groomers are out trying to keep up so keep an eye out for them. Enjoy the weekend, we’ll see you on the trail!!!
Happy New Year Everyone! The CJ Ramstad North Shore State Trail is being groomed in its entirety… and should be groomed again Friday and Saturday weather permitting. All of the GIA trails in Northeast Minnesota that could be groomed have been and are in excellent shape. There are still few areas where clubs are fighting with swamps and overhanging brush from the heavy snows but for the most part Northeast Minnesota is open for business! Some of you are wondering how the warm up will affect the trails. We have 16 inches of snow on the ground in Duluth, 24 inches from Two Harbors North and even though it will get above freezing it will only be for a few hours a day and we do not anticipate any heavy damage to the trails. Enjoy and be safe!!!