No bikes, hikes, pups

Duluth Parks and Recreation would like to remind the public that the city’s cross-country ski trails are off limits to hiking, pets and winter bicycles, commonly called “fat bikes.”

For those who crave time on their fat bike or time out for a hike, the city reminds all that the Lakewalk regularly is cleared of snow, making it a wonderful place for those activities.

The city has 55 kilometers of skiing on six cross-country trails. Those trails remain in good condition for cross-country skiers only if everyone does their part to follow trail etiquette, including skiing in the indicated direction, leaving pets at home, filling any holes and smoothing the track if you fall and using the trails only for cross-country skiing without pets.

Maps and brochures for each trail are available at the Duluth Parks and Recreation office at Duluth City Hall, 411 W. First St., or online at duluthmn.gov/parks.

They’re pulling for ya

Looking for an excuse to “move it” in the coming year? Have a dog that wants to pull you while you have skinny skis strapped to your feet?

See if your dog has what it takes to top the rest at Go Dog North Shore’s “Best in Snow Skijor Race” on March 1 in Grand Marais at the George Washington Pines Ski Trail.
The event will feature two timed races: A 2- and 4-mile race. Each race will be capped at 15 teams, so register early. Teams are limited to one dog per skier, and there is a $25 entry fee per team, per race. Prizes will be awarded to the top teams in each race.

If you don’t know what skijoring is, don’t worry, Eh? had to look it up. Skijoring is a winter sport where a person on cross-country skis is pulled by a dog. It’s sort of like a dogsled race, but with only one dog, and you’re the sled.

For those interested, there’s still time to train. But for those who don’t want to race, but still want to participate, volunteer opportunities and registration details are available by calling Cathy Quinn at (218) 370-9494, or email Cathy at quinn@boreal.org.

Speak up, public

A public meeting will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday to discuss a Mini Master Plan for Duluth’s Hartley Park. The meeting will be held at Hartley Nature Center, 3001 Woodland Ave. The City of Duluth’s Parks and Recreation division has contracted with a consulting group to work with city staff members, Hartley Nature Center, stakeholders, the city’s cross-country ski trail consultant and the public to develop a plan for the park. Progress of that plan will be discussed Wednesday night.

Residents also may offer written feedback after Wednesday.

The Mini-Master Plan will address all aspects of the park, including programming, trails and managing natural resources.

Eat, drink and bid for Chester Bowl

Enjoy an evening out with family and friends while tasting locally made beer, fine wines and great local pizza. It’s the sixth annual Chester Bowl Improvement Club silent auction set for 6-9 p.m. Saturday at Duluth’s Midi Restaurant in the Fitger’s Complex.
Tickets are just $25 per person and all proceeds go to help children and family ski programs at Duluth’s Chester Bowl ski area. There are dozens of great items to bid on, from exciting vacation packages to wine baskets and much more. So bring your checkbook or credit card and a hearty appetite.

Keep those feet off ski trails

We’re begging for some courtesy. Help keep the city’s cross-country ski trails in good condition by taking hikes and walks elsewhere. Footprints and other impressions (even angels) ruin the trails, so the Duluth Parks and Recreation staff would like to remind you that it’s prohibited to use them for non-skiing activities.

It’s one thing to walk on them when there’s no snow and conditions are dry, but now the trails are packed and tracked for skiers, not for walking with Fido (and who names their dog Fido these days, anyway?)

Here’s how to keep ski trails in tiptop shape:

  • Ski in the direction indicated
  • Try to fill any holes and smooth the track if you should fall
  • Don’t let pets anywhere near trails
  • Don’t hike on groomed trails

For ambulatory excursions, use the Lakewalk and other clear-of-snow paths. Skiers will thank you.

Skiing times at Chester Bowl

Chester Bowl ski hill has announced its winter break and winter carnival schedule for the week. The hill’s lift will be open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. In addition:

  • A partner ski race starts at 2 p.m. today.
  • The obstacle course opens at 2 p.m. Thursday. There will be no evening ski lessons.
  • A freestyle ski and snowboard jumping contest begins at 2 p.m. Friday. There will be no evening freestyle.
  • The hill hosts its winter carnival from 1-4 p.m. Saturday and will release a detailed schedule of events later this week. Volunteers are needed. If you can help, please e-mail chesterbowlpark@gmail.com. In addition, early registration for Sunday’s race will be held from 2:30-4:30 p.m.

Race registration will be open from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday; the race starts at 1:15 p.m. with all participants receiving trophies.
Chester Bowl is at 1800 E. Skyline Parkway. Daily lift tickets for all ages are $5.25. Go to chesterbowl.org for more information.

Catch a lift with a Duluth city councilor

Here’s another unconventional way to mark Valentine’s Day: by taking a ride on a ski lift with a Duluth City Council member.

Councilors Emily Larson and Patrick Boyle will be going round and round on the chair lift at Chester Bowl from 5:30-6:15 p.m. During that time you can hop on with one of them and bend their ear without any danger of them walking away. Then you can ski or snowboard back down feeling good about your civic engagement.

Larson has the Parks and Recreation portfolio on the City Council, and Boyle represents the district that includes Chester Bowl.

If you don’t feel like skiing, Larson and Boyle will go from riding the lift at 6:15 to serving cocoa and other goodies until 8:30 p.m. in the chalet.

Excellent conditions for Duluth cross-country ski trails

The city of Duluth reports that with the recent snowfall its cross-country ski trails are in excellent condition.

The city trails include:

  • Hartley, with a double-looped 5-kilometer trail groomed for traditional cross-country skiing at beginning and intermediate levels.
  • Piedmont, with a 5K double-tracked loop that is appropriate for traditional skiers of all levels.
  • Lester/Amity, with 18K of trails groomed for both traditional and skate-style skiing.
  • Spirit Mountain, with 22 kilometers of double-tracked trails with skating lanes and 1K, 5K and 11K loops.

Hikers and dogs are not allowed on groomed trails. Skiers older than 15 require a Minnesota ski pass on all Grants-in-Aid trails.

Information on trail conditions can be found on the ski hot line at (218) 730-4321 or by searching for “duluthparksmn” on Facebook.

Afterhours skiing in Northwestern Wisconsin

The new blanket of snow we were forecast to receive overnight should set up some great conditions for Saturday’s free candlelight ski on the Afterhours Trail in Northwestern Wisconsin’s Brule Rive State Forest.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reports that the event, held from 5-9 p.m., will include a bonfire, hot apple cider, a gas grill for cooking and a warming shelter — and two miles of candle-lit ski trails, of course.

The Afterhours Trail is located off U.S. Highway 2 just west of Brule, or about 30 miles east of Superior.

Whether you hit the trails in Brule or get outdoors at some other spot in the Northland, this weekend should feel like a heat wave after our recent cold weather. Highs on Saturday are forecast to reach the teens — above zero — and on Sunday we may see highs in the mid- to upper 20s.