Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Local trails enjoy 'excellent' cross country ski season

Cold temperatures and snow in other parts of the country adversely impacted the local cross country ski business this winter.

Despite the setbacks, many trail organizers said the season went well, with "excellent conditions" all around.

ABR Ski Trails in Erwin Township close Sunday at 5 p.m. According to co-owner and operator Eric Anderson, the plan is the same each winter.

"We plan every year to normally go through the last weekend in March," Anderson said. "We had a good season, lots of grooming and snow removal hours."

Jeff Musselman, of Wolverine Ski Trails in Ironwood Township, said if the "conditions are favorable," the trails there will remain open.

"We're planning on grooming our trails as long as the snow conditions are favorable and we still have interest," Musselman said.

At MECCA Trails in Mercer, Wis., this weekend is set to be the last time the trails are groomed, according to a website. Also, the Osprey Loop, along the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage, and the Sanitation Field Trail are closed for the season. Trails may still be groomed into the future, but a post on the site said, "don't count on it."

Carrie Miljevich, of Milje's Ski Trails in Wakefield, said the plan is to stay open through Easter weekend, weather permitting.

"We just groomed again last night (Thursday), so the trails are in spectacular condition," Miljevich said. "We have 16 kilometers of classic-only cross country trails, and our trails are narrow and go right through the woods. They are peaceful, serene and we often get told it's the 'best kept secret in the Northwoods' or out-of-towners tell us they 'dream about Milje's during the summer months.' With all of the snowfall and cold weather, our trails are in the best condition they have been in years. The conditions are just outstanding. I can't say that enough."

At Wolverine, things are still in "excellent shape."

"We've had good cross country skiing," Musselman said. "One of the things was everyone has had snow. We didn't get as many out-of-town skiers as we did last year."

At ABR, the cold weather actually helped conditions. "Normally you have five to 10 days of freeze-thaw," Anderson said. "This year, we had two days. It helped to have nice, dry powder."

"We saw a big decrease in local traffic due to cold," Anderson said. "But the folks from down south who had trips planned still came. We had only one cancellation the whole winter, and it was due to a health issue, not the cold. Everyone who planned to come still did. The cold didn't stop them."

Miljevich said the cold weather didn't stop the "truly devout" skiers.

"Overall, the season went great," Miljevich said. "We hosted the inaugural snowshoe races during Sisu Ski Fest, and that was a great event, and well attended. This year, we surely can't complain about the lack of snow. The cold weather may have hindered things a little bit. Only the truly devout want to get out and nordic ski when it's 30 below zero. I am one of those people."