Cross-Country Skiing Northern Door

I am a proud Wisconsinite. Wisconsin makes some of the best cheese in the world. Beers from our microbreweries are hard to beat. I have even fallen for our state’s outstanding football team. However, my favorite part of this state is less cultural and more natural: our four seasons. Door County, like the rest of the Wisconsin with its copious water sports and camping opportunities, is known as a summer destination. The promise of fall colors and mild temperatures draws people in the fall as well. To non-natives and many who have lived their entire lives here, winter is decidedly the most dreaded season. Four or more months of frigid temperatures and inches upon inches of frozen precipitation can be intimidating. But since I decided to love Wisconsin and make my home here in Door County, I have had to come to terms with winter.

Skiing is the method I have adopted to counter the long winter madness. I started with a pair of used cross country skis of my mother’s and graduated to a brand new pair of my own. Lucky for my husband and me, we have plenty of prime ski trails very close to our Northern Door home.

Newport State Park is a quiet destination any time of year, but in the best skiing months of January, February and March, it is particularly hushed, save for those who know the secrets of its ski trails. The park’s naturally flat lakefront landscape makes for excellent classic skiing. Miles of regularly-groomed and relatively straight trails take skiers from beach skiing to wooded trails. Pause and take in the beautiful ice formations where Lake Michigan meets the land.

Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: Drivable in 30 minutes (20 miles)

Pre-registration: Vehicles need to sport an annual park sticker or a day pass available at the park office

Cost: Varies, check the Wisconsin State Park system website for pricing

A perhaps better-known ski destination is Peninsula State Park. Easy access on Highland road off of Highway 42 between Fish Creek and Ephraim takes skiers right to parking lot five, which has immediate access to several groomed ski loops of varying ability levels. The curvy, wooded trails are especially gorgeous after a fresh snow has flocked the trees.

Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: Drivable in 13 minutes (7.8 miles)

Pre-registration: Vehicles need to sport an annual park sticker or a day pass available at the park office

Cost: Varies, check the Wisconsin State Park system website for pricing

Whitefish Dunes State Park offers still more waterfront skiing. Jump on the trail just next to the park office and cruise off into the woods for a few miles. The trail opens onto a landscape of snow-covered sand dunes; when the snow is right, the trail takes you among them, climbing up and sliding down. From the top of each rise, glimpse a beautiful view of Lake Michigan.

Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: Drivable in 20 minutes (13 miles)

Pre-registration: Vehicles need to sport an annual park sticker or a day pass available at the park office

Cost: Varies, check the Wisconsin State Parks website for pricing

Though the winter months can be long, skiing has taught me to look forward each white tempest. Skis have given me another way to enjoy the natural beauty of Door County and to feel great when I’m through. The natural release of endorphins from the physical exertion of skiing tempers the cold and makes it impossible to resent the snow. Though skiing is not for everyone, all of the parks I mentioned have specially-marked snowshoe trails. Experience snowshoeing at its best right after a fresh, voluminous snowfall.

Skis and snowshoes can be a lot to pack when venturing north, so if you haven’t brought your own, check out Bay Shore Outfitters or Nor Door Sports and Cyclery for rentals. Check availability at the Blacksmith Inn for your ski weekend here. With a fireplace and hot tub in each, the Inn’s room are the ideal wind-down location after miles on the trails.

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