Trail Conditions in Cook County

Grand Marais

Cook County MN has the largest network of largest cross country trails in North America with 400KM of pristinely groomed ski trails. Find the complete cross country ski trail conditions report here and updated weekly once the season begins.

Pincushion Mountain Trail System - Grand Marais

The Pincushion Mountain Trail System is a 25 kilometer silent sport trail system perched high above Lake Superior, 2 miles north of Grand Marais, Minnesota. Because of its varied terrain, excellent trail design and spectacular vistas of Lake Superior and Devil Track River canyon, this trail system is enjoyed by thousands annually for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, running and mountain biking. With annual average snowfall of 110", Warming Chalet, Pisten Bully grooming for classic and skate skiing, Pincushion Mountain is a great Nordic skiing destination! More Information from the North Superior Ski & Run Club (NSSRC).

 *Note that the only ski trail where dogs are allowed is the East Overlook Trail. Dogs are also allowed on the Superior Hiking Trail section which can be snowshoed or hiked out to the Pincushion Overlook and back. 

Ski Pass Required: Minnesota Ski Pass required. More information on the pass and a link to purchase on-line is located at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/licenses/skipass/index.html

Trail Conditions Update

  • Date: 11/30/2022
  • Trail Base: 2" - 5" 
  • Snowfall Last 24 Hours: 4" - 5"
  • Snowfall Last 7 Days: 4" - 5"
  • Average Depth off the Trail: 8" - 10"
  • Trail Conditions Update/Notes: 11/30/2022: All trails groomed for skate and classic skiing. Conditions are very good for early season. There are still a few rocks peeking through, especially on the lower part of the Pincushion Loop. Ski with caution. (Timothy Lederle, North Superior Ski & Run Club
  • Trail Conditions Update/Notes: 11/28/2022: As of 11 AM, skating track was refurbished with two passes, 12 feet wide, on Stadium, East Overlook, West Overlook, Lower and Upper Snowman. Conditions for skating on these loops are good, but some rocks are visible, so ski with care. One pass, 7 feet wide, was made on the skating lane of Pincushion Loop. Conditions on lower Pincushion are fair to poor. Rock skis are advised and use caution. Classic tracks are well formed, but icy and many exposed rocks and dirt patches. (Timothy Lederle, North Superior Ski & Run Club
  • Our Pincushion grooming plan in general is to groom before and after each weekend, conditions allowing, and to groom within 24 hours of the end of major snow and/or wind events. 
  • Firsthand Trail Reports: From skinnyski.com

 

Pincushion Full Moon Skis are back! 

Please join us at 7PM on Tuesday, December 6th at the Pincushion chalet.  We'll have bonfires outside, hot drinks inside and beautiful groomed and lit trails to explore under the moon.  Headlamps recommended.

The NSSRC is planning to host full moon skis each month during the winter. We'll also be hosting lots of other events like ski clinics, waxing clinics and the Pincushion Winter Festival races in February.  Stay tuned.


            

 

Time again for our annual membership drive!
Every year we ask for your support for the North Superior Ski and Run Club.  Some of the benefits you receive from being a member include:

  • Year round access to the Pincushion trail system, Piston Bully grooming in the winter and mowing in the summer.
  • Use of the Pincushion Chalet.
  • Participation in club events such as: Women's Ski, Ski clinics, Moonlight skiing get together, Pincushion Winter Festival, Fisherman's Picnic Trail Run, and more!
  • Support of several youth programs such as: The Youth Ski League and the High School Nordic Ski Team.  We also host 2 High School running meets on the Pincushion Trail system every Fall.
  • Great place to meet other outdoor enthusiasts!  

The ski trails at Pincushion are maintained by the North Superior Ski and Run Club, with the financial support of sponsorships and memberships and also a grooming grant we receive from the Great MN Ski Pass program.  

Click here to become a member or renew your NSSRC membership

Click here to purchase or renew your Great MN Ski Pass (required to ski at Pincushion and other MN public ski areas)
 


 

George Washington Pines Winter Recreation Trail 

George Washington Pines Winter Recreation Trail is a relatively short 3.3 km trail located fairly close to Grand Marais, only 6 miles up the Gunflint Trail. It passes through a beautiful grove of pines, the George Washington Memorial Pine Plantation. The plantation was established when 13 boys from the Grand Marais Boy Scout Troop #67 planted 32 acres of land with 14,570 Norway Pine and 7,500 White Pine in 1932 after a 1927 fire. More recently, in the summer of 2010, some of the understory was cleared to reduce hazardous fuels and create a better wildfire situation. The trail is shared between cross country skiers, snowshoers, and people using dogs for skijoring. People also might be simply hiking or walking their dog on the trail. Please respect other users by not fouling groomed ski tracks and by alerting dog users of your presence so as not to spook dogs by rapidly passing them on skis. Encourage your dog to use off trail areas for potty stops, but if the trail is used, pick up any dog droppings, and try to repair tracks melted out by dog piles. This is an easy trail, suitable for beginning skiers or for people looking for an easy access quick ski close to town. Dog owners need to clean-up after their pets.

Mushing/Skijoring: While traditional dogsleds do not work well on the short George Washington Pines Trail, it is open for skijoring where a harnessed dog pulls a person on cross country skis. Help to make the mix of activities on this trail work together. If you are skijoring, please remove all dog droppings from the trail and repair holes melted in the trail from dog leavings. If you are skiing, alert skijorers to your presence to avoid spooking dogs. Regardless of what you are participating in, if you find dog leavings or other litter left by careless other people, do your part and clean it up.

Skiing/Snowshoeing: Both skiers and snowshoers are welcome on the George Washington Pines Trail. The trail is groomed for classic skiing on one side and snowshoeing or skate skiing on the other. Please respect other users by not snowshoeing on groomed ski tracks.

No Ski Pass required to use the trail system at George Washington Pines.

Trail Conditions Update

  • Date: 12/1/2022
  • Trail Base: 7" with some wet spots.
  • Snowfall Last 24 Hours: 0"
  • Snowfall Last 7 Days: 5"
  • Average Depth off the Trail: 12"
  • Trail Conditions Update/Notes: 12/1/2022: There are still occasional rocks and wet spots near Elbow Creek, and some brush poking through the snow. We still need more snow to level out the terrain but tracks are setting nicely with each pass of the groomer. Moderate use since our last grooming. Try to keep snowshoes out of the classic tracks, especially where the trail gets narrow.
  • Trail Conditions Update/Notes: 11/18/2022: The Forest Service Groomed GW Pines yesterday, Nov. 17. This is one of the earliest dates we have groomed this trail. Looking forward to a good winter season!
  • Firsthand Trail Reports: From skinnyski.com:

 

Bally Creek Ski System - Grand Marais

Bally Creek Trail System is a multiple short loop cross country ski trail system with several access points. The main access is a parking area off of FR 158 just short of Bear Track Camp. Depending on snow conditions and grooming, access is also off Cook County 45 and as a branch off of the Cascade River Ski Trails. Heavy snows will limit grooming some trails; travel on ungroomed trails is not recommended. This system is 25.0 km trackset. 11.0 km skate-ski. All skill level trails. Part of a 196 km ski-through network along the North Shore. Variety of cedar swamp, balsam and pine forest. Meanders along wildlife pond. Ski 17.6km from Bally Creek to Cascade State Park. Maps along trail.

Directions: The main access is from the south. Get on County 7 either from Grand Marais or from MN61 south of Grand Marais. Take County 48 a very short distance to FR 18 Bally Creek Road. Take FR 158 to the large parking lot on the left side of the road, just short of the rental cabins. The small parking area with the arch over the trail is for cabin users only; if you find yourself there, please turn around and park in the main lot.

Ski Pass Required: Minnesota Ski Pass required. More information on the pass and a link to purchase on-line is located at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/licenses/skipass/index.html.  More information at Bally Creek Ski Trail System.

Trail Conditions Update

  • Date: 11/17/2022
  • Trail Base:  
  • Snowfall Last 24 Hours:
  • Snowfall Last 7 Days:
  • Average Depth off the Trail: 
  • Trail Conditions Update/Notes: 11/17/2022: From the U.S. Forest Service: we are still waiting on the delivery of our new trail groomer for Bally Creek, but we are hopeful it will arrive by December 1st, which is the start of the official grant-in-aid ski season.  We are working on trail clearing and hardening right now, but we expect to be grooming by December 1st.
  • Firsthand Trail Reports: 

 

Cascade River State Park

The trail is consistent with the North Shore topography; cliffs intermixed with forest land. All types of wildlife can be seen along the trail. Ski trails range from easy to difficult. One loop is available for the less experienced skier. Trails connect to other local trails outside the park.

You can snowshoe anywhere in Minnesota's state parks and recreation areas, except on trails that are specifically groomed for another activity, such as skiing or snowmobiling.

  • Ski Pass Required: Minnesota Ski Pass required. Ski passes are available outside the park office daily during the ski season. Otherwise, the park office is open and ski passes can be purchased on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. More information on the pass and a link to purchase on-line is located at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/licenses/skipass/index.html
  • Winter camping is available. Contact park for further details.
  • A warming house is available at the trailhead.
  • Trailhead is located one mile past the contact station in park.
  • Parking available at the trailhead.

Online Trail Conditions

Trail Conditions Update

  • Date: 11/28/2022
  • Trail Base: 
  • Snowfall last 24 Hours:
  • Snowfall last 7 Days:
  • Average Depth off the Trail: 4"
  • Trail Conditions Update/Notes: 11/28/2022: Not Groomed. More snow is needed to pack and groom ski trails. Trails are icy.
  • Firsthand Trail Reports:

Gunflint Trail Trail Conditions

Welcome to winter on the Gunflint Trail. Cross country skiing is one of the #1 activities on the Gunflint Trail in winter. Trail reports are updated weekly once the season begins, typically mid-November – April.

Lutsen And Tofte Trail Conditions

Cook County MN has the largest network of largest cross country trails in North America with 400KM of groomed ski trails. Find complete cross country ski trail conditions report here; updated weekly once the season begins.