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 - Grand Marais
*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.
Firsthand Trail Reports: www:skinnyski.com/ Jan 17: Re-groomed after thaw/freeze. Conditions are very good with packed powder skate lanes and tracks. There are a few dirt spots, but easily avoided. (Bill Hansen)
Firsthand Trail Reports: www:skinnyski.com/ Jan 17: Skied Pincushion Mountain Loop as well as the easier loops this morning. Tracks were freshly groomed and firm, setting up quite nicely. A few spots had a bit of dirt or pine needles, but they were few and far between. Kudos to the groomers for the great work keeping these trails skiable especially given the poor weather lately! (Anna Ingebretson)
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 at www:pincushiontrails.org/
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
George Washington Pines Winter Recreation Trail - Gunflint Trail
Firsthand Trail Reports: www:skinnyski.com/ Dec. 28: Trail is fully covered and tracked with a good base. There were lots of people out enjoying the frigid temperatures. This trail is open to dogs, but they have mostly stayed out of the tracks, and all in all, a great day of skiing. (Mark Hennessy)
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.
Bally Creek Ski System - Grand Marais
Firsthand Trail Reports: www:skinnyski.com/ Jan 17: Skied most of the Bally Creek Trails today, my first time this season. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was compared to what I was expecting. The grooming was better that I have experienced in years. Tracks were firm, and surprisingly given the freeze thaw cycles we have been thru were not glazed. Coverage was very good except for some stubble. Most of the trails seemed to have a wider and firmer groom (good enough for double poling) than I was expecting and all were groomed. The ski down to Cascade State Park system was even skier groomed which I have not seen in years (Did not ski this portion of trail but tracks went down it and came out at the bottom on Pike Lake Road). Make sure to make a donation in the donation box in the parking lot. (Tim Nelson)
Firsthand Trail Reports: www:skinnyski.com/ Jan 14: Good classic tracks throughout. Over half the trails have been recently groomed and the rest still have decent tracks. A few small segments haven't been groomed but have had enough traffic to be usable. No bare spots and minimal debris. Pretty! (Kathy Steinberger)
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.
For more information, call 218-387-1162.
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.