Healthy Outdoor Sports

Snowflake 2017/18 Season News & Update

October 21st, 2017 Posted in News | Comments Off on Snowflake 2017/18 Season News & Update

This wet Spring and Summer have challenged our trail maintenance, but as Ski Season nears, 99% of our trails have been cleared, mowed, and widened, rocks have been removed, and the bridges over low-spots have been repaired or rebuilt. The remaining 1% will be cleaned and cut when the ground freezes. We will be ready to groom when the snow flies.

Membership forms are now available for download from this website. Membership brochures will also be available, by 30 October, at Ski Hut, Continental Ski & Bike, and inside the Blue Box outside the chalet door. We will not be mailing brochures this season.

Our membership prices remain unchanged from the past two seasons, and “Early Bird” pricing will apply to memberships received by 30 November 2017.

The Long Version:

Despite an 11” deficit below average snowfall, we opened with groomed trails on December 1st 2016 and maintained some skiable, groomed trails until 30 March 2017. We were the last trail to close in Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to Two winter warm-ups required us to limit hours and ultimately close to skiing during January and February, but we preserved our snow-base and re-opened with some of the best trail conditions of the season. The “Members Only” weekend was our attempt to thank you for your understanding and cooperation. During last season we hosted the East Nordic team, KidSki, Marshall Holiday Camp, Nordic North Stars, Ski Duluth, and a relocated Proctor HS race. We also provided an intro to Nordic skiing to 87 student/clients from Woodland Hills, and hosted high school and college teams from the metro area and Wisconsin, who had poor snow at home.

Our grooming received positive feedback. It is worth noting that we effectively groomed with only 1 and ½ sleds last season, due to a chronic overheating problem with one of the sleds. Since I will not send groomers out alone at night, for obvious safety reasons, this restricted when we groomed, and increased the cost of grooming as we had to sit on the trail for 20 minutes waiting for the bad sled to cool and restart. To remedy this, at the end of the season we purchased a new Bearcat grooming sled, the same sled used at Giants Ridge and Lutsen, optimized for towing a groomer, and we will have two reliable groomers this year. Many Classic Skiers noted the improved track setting after December, which can be credited to the new YTS track setter that we purchased and installed before Christmas. Credit also to the improving skill of the Groomers!

Due mostly to the difficult snow conditions, and my determination to “Preserve the Trail”, at least through Birkie weekend, the question of “Dogs on the Trail”, became somewhat of an issue last season. There is little question that allowing dogs onto a groomed trail, whether for ski-touring or ski-kjoring, is hard on the trail, and destructive during very soft (fragile) conditions. That’s why dogs are prohibited on the City Trails and most other trails. However, one of the special things about Snowflake has always been that Members have the privilege of skiing with their dogs. They do not pay extra for this privilege, they pay the same as non-dog members. With privilege comes responsibility, and members with dogs are expected to remove dog droppings, control their dogs, and minimize the impact on the trails, especially the vulnerable classic tracks. Most dog owners act responsibly, but as is always the case, the 1 percenters attract the attention of the management. Ski-kjoring down the skate lane behind the groomer while your dog lopes down the freshly-set classic track is inconsiderate, and leaving bags of dog-poop on the chalet porch is just rude. But, I witnessed both.
As the trails became more fragile, we decided to restrict which trails were open to dogs, and on limited occasions, to keep dogs off the trails. This was done for one reason: to preserve the trails for skiers. The restrictions were posted on our phone message, and on, and signs were posted. And the restrictions were lifted as soon as conditions allowed. Going into the new season, we will endeavor to find a solution that works for all members, and I welcome ideas from all members, especially the dog-owners, One idea is to make the “Perimeter Loop” the preferred venue for ski-kjoring and touring with dogs. Another is to have “dog-days”, where dogs would have access on the day before we have scheduled grooming. I am open to ideas…

Post-season, we began trail work in May and have worked through the summer to improve troublesome portions of the trails, rebuild bridging in low spots, remove protruding rocks, and prep the trails for snow/grooming. The frequent and excessive rain has made it difficult – our equipment just can’t get through saturated ground – but at this point we have only a small area that we will clean-up once the ground freezes. We did clear, and mow a “new” loop up in Fisketti Junction, on the 10K, that has been unused for a few years. We are improving the Perimeter Loop connectors, and signage, to make it easier to ski, and we are improving signage throughout the trail system.

Trail lighting on the 5K remains a problem. The electrician that I first hired was overwhelmed by the task, and gave-up. I have another working on it, but how much of the lighting can or will be restored, I do not know. I will have headlamps available for members to borrow – at no cost – if the lighting is not restored.

My big hope is that the summer precipitation will turn into proper winter precipitation, and we will enjoy a snowy, Minnesota winter. Our trails, Your trails will be groomed and ready!

Snowflake looks forward to a fabulous 2017/2018 Ski Season!

September 17th, 2017 Posted in News | Comments Off on Snowflake looks forward to a fabulous 2017/2018 Ski Season!

Trails are in great shape and a new section has been opened. A complete update on our status and improvements will be posted by 1 October. Season Pass Membership forms will be available for download by 15 October and will also be available at Ski Hut and Continental after that date.


November 2nd, 2016 Posted in News | Comments Off on SNOWFLAKE NORDIC SKI CLUB 2016/17 MEMBERSHIP & NEWS

I hope that you all enjoyed “the seasons without snow”, but like me, you are anxious to get back on your skis and enjoy Winter!

Status Summary: Our 15 km of trails are now cleared of trees and have been mowed and edged. If it snows tonight, we are ready to begin grooming tomorrow. Our trails and facilities for the coming season remain unchanged from last season. Our membership prices will remain the same.

The Long Version:

Last season was a success. We began grooming on December 2nd, lost four days of skiing during the January warm-up, then resumed skiing on most trails into March. We preserved snow on some trails such that our last ski day was April 13th!

We expected work on the new Edison High School to begin in May – with expected impact on the 10km trails immediately behind North Star school/United Health – but, for a number of reasons, that work was delayed until it became impractical to begin this year.

We had a successful camping season and hosted campers from all over the U.S. and Canada.

We began Trail Maintenance and Improvements in June, with a goal of widening narrow spots on the trails and improving low (wet) spots. Then, came the Great Storm of 21 July!

Fortunately, we had no campers that night, because we had trees down in most campsites. We had one tree down on the roof of the chalet. Our trails were completely blocked – there were 12 downed trees on the first 100 meters outbound from the trailhead, alone.

We began clearing on 22 July, first priority being the campsites and trail sections that access the campsites. We hosted the campers with reservation that night. Next we moved onto the 5K trail, then Special K and the Biathlon course, and finally into the 10K trails. As we cleared, we mowed and edged. The 5K was completely clear on 30 August, and we got the last tree off the 10K trail on 4 Oct. The bright side to the storm is that it brought down trees that probably needed to come down and, being out there with the chainsaws gave us the opportunity to cut-back saplings and widen some narrow sections.

To focus on cutting and clearing and moving forward, we stacked cut logs and branches on the side of the trails, and we are now removing that debris, mostly by trailering it out for chipping.

With the trails cleared, the other major casualty was our 5K trail lights. They were devastated by the storm. We have hired an electrician to restore the lighting, but the job and costs are such that we will probably not have the full 5K lighting restored this season. Our priority is first to light the parking lots and “Sledding Hill”, then to restore lighting in ever-expanding “loops” outbound from the trailhead. For example a 1K lighted loop out the 5K to the 2nd KidSki cutoff, then back to the Chalet via the 5K return trail. We will expand the lighting as we overcome the problems. We will remain open for night skiing, and encourage night-skiers to add a Headlamp to their gear bag.

Our relationship with the developer remains positive, and we plan to evolve as development begins next summer, adapting to whatever comes and remaining a great place to ski, into the future.

2016/17 Memberships: I confess that all of the trail work has put me behind on mailing-out membership brochures! They are in production and will be mailed/distributed by the end of the month. Our membership prices will remain the same as last season:

Family:     $179 * / $239

Individual: $109* / $149

Student:    $59* / $97

Over 80:    $Free

* = “Early Bird Sale Price if membership is received by 30 November 2016 (We extended this due to the flyers going out later than usual)

Your membership is good until 31 October 2017 and in addition to unlimited skiing, entitles you to 2 nights of camping during the “other” seasons. We are also entering a “Reciprocity Agreement” with a couple of ski areas in Northern Wisconsin, which will entitle our members to a free day of skiing, details to be coming.

With the 5K lighting reduced, we did consider reducing membership prices, however the costs to repair and restore the lighting for this and future seasons weighed against that. We are going to replace broken lights with new, LED lighting, so I hope you will recognize this as an investment in future ski seasons at Snowflake.

Other News:

  1. We have hired Jim Wood, a long-time trail-groomer at Snowflake, to the trail maintenance and grooming team this year.
  2. We are hiring 2 additional groomers, which will give us 5 total, to improve the scheduling of snow grooming this season.
  3. We have hired a “Website Person” to update our website ( ). New 2016/2017 membership forms available for download from our Season Pass page.
  4. Our “Website Person” will also get our Facebook page squared away, and I am going to get a Smart Phone, so that we can post regular updates on conditions at Snowflake.
  5. We have commitments to host East High School Nordic, DXC KidSki, Marshall Holiday Ski Camp, and Northern Lights Ski Program again this season.
  6. We will again organize a charter bus to the Book Across The Bay ski event at Washburn WI in February.

That’s the update! We appreciate your membership and support in the past, and look forward to seeing you up here this season. I encourage you to come up and take a brisk walk, or a run, on the trails. Bring your ski poles and do some nordic walking! If you see something that concerns you, let us know and we’ll fix it. If you just like what you see, we like to hear that, too. Thanks for your membership.

Think Snow!!!

John Graham ( & John Gould, & the Snowflake Team)

Snowflake Contact Information

October 28th, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Snowflake Contact Information

Hope you’re excited for another SUPER SNOWFLAKE SEASON!

Contact information:

Snowflake Telephone Number (218) 726 – 1550  (Leave a message)

4348 Rice Lake Rd
Duluth, MN 55811

John Graham (Manager): (218) 355 – 1271
John Gould (Biathlon):   (218) 269 – 2854

twitter:   @ski_snowflake