I have been on a vacation after Christmas and skied in different places in Midwest. Here are the trails in the order I did them:
Giants Ridge. Best trail I have skied on. Great views, great terrain, great grooming. There is lot variety in terrain. Gold trail is made of long relatively steep climbs, Silver of steep but short and Bronze is one long gradual uphill. For the intervals, Gold is good if you are ready for the mental challenge of a trail with long climbs that turn and then go up again! Cedar and Bronze should be good too giving a 10-12 minute interval of almost completely gradual uphill.
For a long skate ski – Silver is excellent (somewhat similar to Woodlands trails), as you glide the half of the next uphill by carrying the motion from the downhill. But I mostly like the Gold: perfect grooming makes for exciting long and fast downhills, and the coolest thing is when a wind blow at the bottom makes for a local whiteout! For classic I like Bronze as it gives about 20-25 min of almost non-stop striding. On cold days it is important to dress properly there: I was wearing a jacket which I unzipped on uphills and then zipped back before downhills.
Oh... and if those long downhills are not enough to freeze you out, then you can take a free chairlift.
Hidden Valley. Located in Ely (near the border) 1 hour north of Giants Ridge. Skiing on gradually rolling terrain in mostly spruce forest.
You could then visit the International Wolf Center, which is right next to the ski trail. I would like to go there later this year when they have the pups and bring them to the room for showing.
Can I see your trail pass, please?
Bayfield area. Mt. Ashwabay ski trails: there is a view of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands from one point, but I more enjoyed the classic only trails deep in the woods – narrow between pines and kind of wild.
Mt. Valhalla ski trails: great names, great views, great trail, need to check with the grooming. Striking difference between the woods on different sides of the road. Valkyrie trail is in pine forest and classic only (10K outer loop + 2 smaller inner loops). Goes through large moraine-like hills, very cool!
In search of Brünnhilde (photo by Siegfried). Wagner bird orchestra arriving in spring.
ABR. Another great trail system. Located in Ironwood, MI. Lots of trails (you can ski the whole day without much repeating), and a bunch of classic only. Peltonen Pass trail is a very hilly 5K loop (and good for intervals, as well as slightly easier Blueberry Bluffs), otherwise it is a gently rolling (a lot of that in southern parts) to flat terrain. Windy Ridge is additional 6K skate and 3K classic on the south side not included in ABR. Trails are mostly in the pine/spruce woods and a bit along the river.
Timberland Hills. Great place to ski on the way from ABR or Birkie trail back to the Cities. Very unusual terrain: seemed to me that the whole loop (14K, but there are inner loops too) is located on one large gradual hill making for big elevation difference. Rolling, good for both skate and classic. Feels wild and with nice views.
P. S. What a great season! For me it started December 1 and finished April 27 with no more than two days without skiing in a row.
Last Vakava interval workout. Who is out of shape? (Wirth, April 22)
This guy has been siting there for a few years already and has not seen such a long winter yet. Thanks, global warming (Birkie trail, April 27)