Winter Skiing Spotlight

Winter Skiing: Click here to get up-to-date ski and snowmobile trail information or point your browser to www.visitgrandrapids.com/vacations/winter/ .

In the land of 10,000 lakes, Itasca County has 1,000 of them! That translates into great places to cross country ski. The Grand Rapids and Deer River area offers city, county, state, and federal trails. Most of these trails are maintained by volunteers who are members of the North Star Ski Club in Grand Rapids. Their trail grooming helps provide excellent ski areas for practice work outs and for competition.

Grand Rapids residents are blessed with a unique ski area called the Legion Trails which are lit at night and beautifully wooded and well-groomed. The trails have an innovative lighting system which consists of airport landing strip lights on 3 foot plastic pipes. The Legion ski area is directly adjacent to the High School and Performing Arts Center. It is a great place for adults to get some skiing in after work in addition to being the primary practice area for students. Needless to say, our area high schools consistently produce champion ski teams.

Sugar Hills is a former downhill ski area that is used as a trail head for state forest cross country skiing. Sugar Hills was in the news recently (2004) as the DNR was out checking for skiers' daily or annual skiing license. The DNR sells skiing licenses at the same outlets as fishing licenses and the funds are collected and used by municipalities or state parks to maintain the trails.

A federal trail which is one of the most challenging classical ski workouts in the state of Minnesota is Suomi Hills, located on Hwy 38, makes use of old Forest Service Roads. Other trails of note are the Joyce Estate at Trout Lake with a two track 10 KM trail, the Forest History Center in Grand Rapids, Lake Wabana's County trails, and Blueberry Hills near Deer River, MN. Ski conditions range from fair to very good with most trails offering 17" of snow. Snow is big business for Grand Rapids' and Deer River tourism industry. With snow, the hotels are full and the local merchants are happy!