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Skiing Douglas County

Winter is a time for many in the Upper Midwest to dial back their physical activity and cozy up inside, but oftentimes people grow tired of being shuttered in for these long months. 

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So read on if you want to cure those wintertime blues. Douglas County has many spots where cross country skiers will not only receive great exercise but also take in some incredible winter scenery.

As someone who has a passion for competing in cross country ski citizen races, winter is actually the time where I hit my peak of physical activity for the year. This winter I have discovered these following places where skiers of all endurance and experience levels can get out and have some fun.

So put on a few layers of clothing, grab those cross country skis and head to one of these locations.

Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center

Price: $7 per day with own equipment. Rentals available.

Arrowwood Resort offers both classic and skate trails that utilize the Atikwa Championship Golf Course and other wooded areas surrounding Lake Darling.

Arrowwood is only one of two ski areas in Douglas County that offers skate trails. Skiers using Arrowwood’s trails will notice easy-to-intermediate trails on small rolling hills. If you are looking for some challenging terrain you may want to look elsewhere. Rentals of cross country skis, poles and boots are available at the resort’s snow center.

Andes Tower Hills Price: $10 per day. Rentals available.

As one of only two places in Douglas County that offer trails for both classic and skate skiers, people of all abilities should find enjoyment at Andes Tower Hills.

Beginning skiers or those who are out for an easier ski will likely find the Whispering Pines Trail  is more than enough. But if you are seeking difficult terrain, the Deep Woods or Finland trails are an added bonus. As a frequent visitor to Andes, I often seek out the Deep Woods Trail if I am searching for a hilly trail to do my intervals.

Andes Tower Hills offers the chance to take in some enjoyable scenery. The ski trails are located on 800 wooded acres that help shield you from the cold winter wind. As a downhill ski location, Andes Tower Hills also offers a large chalet that includes a cafeteria and indoor bathrooms.

A rental package of classic boots, skis and poles is available for $10.

Lake Carlos State Park Price: $6 per day or $20 seasonally for the Great Minnesota Ski Pass.

Classic only skiers who are looking for some great scenery should look no further than Lake Carlos State Park.

Skiers at this state park will find five miles of easy to intermediate trails that take them near the beaches of Lake Carlos and through a forest with moderately sized hills. Occasionally, groomers do not make their way to Lake Carlos State Park for a few days after a fresh snowfall, but there is often enough ski traffic to break in the trails anyway. A warming house is located in the park.

Carlos also offers candlelight events on a few evenings during the winter.

Kensington Runestone Park

Price: Great Minnesota Ski Pass required.

Skiers at Kensington Runestone Park will find easy to intermediate classic-only trails that follow a scenic loop around two small lakes.

Kensington Runestone Park is located three miles northeast of Kensington and features more than seven miles of groomed trails on some gently rolling, wooded hills. The trails were not groomed on the day I ventured out to the park, but enough traffic had been there to help break the trail.

The park also offers a unique warming area in a remodeled dairy barn that is fully equipped with heat, bathrooms and a small kitchen.

Spruce Hill Park Price: Great Minnesota Ski Pass required.

Located in the northeast corner of Douglas County, Spruce Hill Park has four miles of easy, classic-only ski trails winding through forests and small bodies of water.

A pioneer village was located on the grounds of Spruce Hill and was occupied until the early 20th century. Skiers will notice signs that announce the location of remnants from this early settlement.

Visitors to Spruce Hill Park can take advantage of a small warming house located next to the parking lot. I visited this park on an evening with temperatures dropping below 0 degrees and was grateful for a spot to warm up.

MINNESOTA SKI PASS The Great Minnesota Ski Pass is required for all cross country skiers ages 16 and older using trails in state parks or forests, or on state or grant-in-aid trails. They can be purchased online, by phone, in person at a location offering Minnesota’s electronic licensing system or at a Minnesota State Park.