Cross country skiing, also known as Nordic skiing, is a timeless winter activity. I have always lived in Minnesota, and winters can be hard. These last few years I have been determined to get outside and do something fun, making the winters a little more bearable and the snow feel exciting. You can always tell if people will last in Duluth depending on their attitude towards winter. It's such a magical time and finding its magic has helped me feel more grounded. Cross country skiing has been one of my staples for falling in love with winter and all its glory, over and over again.
So, how does one embrace winter and begin their cross country ski journey? In Duluth you won’t have to look very hard to get into it. The basic 3 items you need are skis, boots, and poles. You can choose to ski Classic (in groomed tracks) or Skate (more of the traditional ice skating movement). There are many places around the city to find the equipment to get you started. You can of course go to your traditional ski shop such as Ski Hut or Continental Ski, or check out your second hand options at places such as Duluth Gear Exchange or Play It Again Sports. Looking just to try it out for the weekend? Don’t worry! You can go to places such as the UMD RSOP Program or Hartley Nature Center to rent a pair of xc skis.
Now that you’ve got the skis, you’ll need to find the trails! Given that Duluth is such a wild place, there are many ski trail options for those looking to get out. The City of Duluth Parks and Recreation manages and maintains several ski trails throughout the city. Most trails within city limits require the great Minnesota ski pass which you can easily purchase online from the Minnesota DNR. Moving just outside of town, there are many great options as well. My family’s favorite places to ski are Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center and Korkki Nordic. All of the trails have a variety of difficulty levels so those who are just beginning or are a seasoned pro will have fun!
Being outside in the snow covered forest is unlike anything else. I often stop to take it all in. But let's be honest, sometimes that stop is caused by a tumble, which is totally okay and part of the fun! To lay face up in the snow, looking at the sky and trees around is so tranquil. My wife is notorious for falling every time we go out, even after skiing for several years. But every time she gets up laughing with a smile. One of my high school ski coaches once told me, it doesn’t matter how many times you fall but how many times you get back up. Skiing is a physically demanding sport but gives many rewards to those getting outside in nature. So bundle up, grab those skis, and see what the North Shore has to offer!
Happy Skiing Adventures,
Ruby Dammann has been with North and Shore since the Makers Mercantile mobile camper days. She also is the maker behind Little Leaf Goods jewelry. Ruby grew up in St.Paul and moved up to Duluth for school (go bulldogs), fell in love with Lake Superior, and just hasn't been able to leave since. When she isn't in the store or making earrings she loves to get outside and go camping with her wife Marcy and dog Onni. You can find her and her jewelry on facebook and instagram at @little.leaf.goods