IRONWOOD - With snow totals continuing to rise, local ski hills, cross country ski trails and snowmobile trail groomers are preparing for what could be a banner winter.
As of 7 a.m. Thursday, Ironwood had received 27.7 inches of snow this season, with more in the forecast through the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Indianhead Mountain in Wakefield was expected to open today, with the other ski hills in the area set to open in December.
"We pride ourselves on being able to offer a longer season with great conditions," Barry Bolich, Indianhead general manager, said. "Our snow-makers and groomers work very hard to provide a great experience for our guests."
Blackjack Resort, near Bessemer, will be open Dec. 7-8 for the national Snocross races, but won't open for skiing and snowboarding until Dec. 13.
Whitecap Mountain, near Upson, and Big Powderhorn, near Bessemer, have set tentative opening dates for Dec. 13 and Mount Zion and the Porcupine Mountains are scheduled to open Dec. 14.
As for cross country skiing, ABR has been open since Nov. 24. According to co-owner and operator Eric Anderson, the trails have seen skiers from all over the Midwest.
"We have had lots of skiers from Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Minneapolis," Anderson said Wednesday. "The groomers have been out quite a bit and the trails look really good."
Snowmobile trails in Michigan are scheduled to open Dec. 1, according to Rick Mars, of the Gogebic Range Trail Authority. All trails will be open, except for Trail 11 South, which is closed because of logging.
On the Wisconsin side, the official opening date will be decided during an Iron County Recreation Committee meeting on Tuesday in Hurley. According to an Iron County Forestry and Parks employee, the trails cannot open before Dec. 1, and based on the conditions, the trails may open as early as next week.