2023/24 Winter Updates

We are fortunate to continue to grow and improve WinMan each season. Thanks to continued support through donations, volunteers, clinics, and memberships, we have some more exciting updates to share system wide. This article will highlight the winter updates and improvements of our snowshoe trails, fat bike trails, and chalet amenities. The ski trails have so many improvements, it deserved an article of its own. If you want to learn more, click the link below.

Snowshoe Trails

Our snowshoe trail system continues to see steady growth each season. It’s a great way for almost anyone to get outside and enjoy the beauty of winter in the Northwoods. As a result, we continue to work on thoughtful expansion of the system and striving towards improved navigation.

New Trail

2023/24 Snowshoe Trail Map (click to download)

We have a new loop we are calling the Maple Syrup Loop. This additional loop is accessible from either trailhead and gives you another great option for some singlewide snowshoeing, deep in the woods.

Did you Know? The Sugar Shack loop goes around a maple stand identified by the Manitowish Waters Historical Society as the location of a Sugarbush Camp. Native Americans would snowshoe from Rest Lake up Papoose Creek, onto what is now WinMan to camp each Spring to tap maples trees and collect sap. Thus what better trail to put next to it than Maple Syrup!

19th Century rendering of an Ojibwe Sugarbush – Image provided by Jim Bokern

We have also added a short additional section to the Lake Loop. This section takes you on the west side of the ridge, giving snowshoers some great views each direction. This additional section also makes the trail a little smoother and easier to traverse as it goes back and forth along sections of our mountain bike trail with the same name. With the tight turns, be sure to follow the flag lines and signage in place.

Updated Key

In the past, we designated snowshoe trails as being either “groomed” or “backcountry.” Well, that terminology is gone and has been updated with more helpful language and guidance. Trails are now designated as being either “double wide” or “single wide.”

Why the change?

To start, trails will no longer be groomed at WinMan. This practice was started early in our history to allow our users a more accessible snowshoe experience. Being able to walk side-by-side and not having to break trail made it easier for wide range of users to enjoy WinMan in the winter.

The reality is, we now have over 800 snowshoers enjoy our double-wide trails each month. The increased traffic creates the packed down experience our users have come to appreciate when leaving from the Main Trailhead. By not grooming, it also makes it a safer experience as naturally packing down the snow reduces the build up of icy conditions and allows crampons (those little teeth on the bottom of your snowshoe) to better grip the snow.

Even though the snow will not be groomed, we will maintain a wider corridor on our double wide trail sections. This allows the option to go out with friends and have a social experience snowshoeing. You can find those trails at our Main Trailhead.

If you are looking for a more traditional experience, our singlewide trails provide that. While mainly starting at our Papoose Trailhead, there are some great options from both.

Improved Flagging

Feedback we have received from you in our Winter Surveys is that our snowshoe trails could be marked a little more thoroughly. This fall we have focused on improving the quantity and visibility of our flagging to make navigation easier.

Our staff and volunteers have also spent time addressing brushing and limb clearing to make corridors more apparent and easier to follow.

The double wide trails are fairly straight forward in terms of navigation. Even with them no longer being groomed, the corridor is well established. We will have a few flags, serving as confidence intervals, but these mainly are not flagged.

The single wide trails will continue to be flagged and we have increased the frequency of flagging to better guide you. We have also continued the practice of flagging each trail with the same color as you will see on the map. For example, if you are on the Sugar Shack Loop, you will find blue flags. If you want to take the Sugar Shack Cut Off, the flags will be green in that section.

One thing to note. With the logging operations this past year, there are some new corridors that opened up. When the ground gets covered in snow here in a few weeks, we anticipate some of them looking like snowshoe routes. That is the other reason for more dense flagging. If you go more than 50 feet without seeing a flag, you have likely veered off course. So, please be sure to pay attention and enjoy getting out into nature safely.

Fat Bike Trails

With the construction of the Long Loop of Scout Trail, we will be adding an additional 1/2 mile to our fat bike system this season. This easy, beginner trail is a great way to introduce the sport to new riders. It’s also the perfect trail to test your tire pressure for the day and determine how many layers you may need before venturing out on to the other trails.

Speaking of tire pressure. We have improved our signage and will be working harder this season to educate our riders on proper tire pressure.

Perhaps the most important variable when fat biking is making sure your tire pressure matches the conditions. Generally speaking, we see too many riders over inflating their tires. The result is damage to the trail by creating ruts, but also a much more challenging ride.

If you find yourself loosing traction on an uphill, sliding and falling on turns, or even spinning out, chances are your pressure is too high. Please refer to following guidelines that we will have posted throughout the trailhead. Not sure what your pressure is? We will have a NEW digital gauge in the chalet for you to borrow right next to the bike pump.

Finally, NEW this year we have updated the key with difficulty level information for each trail. You can now easily identify which trails are easy (green) or moderate (blue) by referencing the key. We will continue this practice next summer for our 2024 Mountain Bike map.

Chalet Improvements

We have continued updates to the chalet space to provide you all more space, storage and comfort during the winter season.

With updated furniture, and installation of features like this new bar top, we now have 30+ seats in the chalet. This functional furniture should allow more groups to hang out and spend time together.

We have also added even more storage options with additional hooks to let wet gear dry and large shelves for oversized bags. Add to these the 8 large cubbies and 24 smaller cubbies we installed earlier and there is now plenty of places to stash your gear while you enjoy the trails.

We have a few more surprises up our sleeve so stay tuned as we hope to complete those projects and make an announcement in December before the trails open for the season.

Bar and Apparel Shop

We continue to expand and improve our selection in the Bar and Apparel Shop. Of course you can still get the latest WinMan shirts and sweatshirts. But this season we’ve added:

  • Gift Cards available in any amount
  • WinMan custom Defeet wool socks
  • Embroidered WinMan puffy vests for Men and Women
  • Toko waxing supplies
  • Toko gloves, headbands and neck warmers
  • WinMan custom stocking caps
  • 100% polyester WinMan performance long sleeve shirts
  • And much more!

Now the only place to get the latest WinMan gear is at the trailhead. We will no longer be selling our merchandise online. So be sure to make plans to stop by the store which will be open Friday through Sunday from 10am to 4pm all winter long.

We look forward to our biggest and busiest winter season ever this year. Please look for our Winter Survey located in the chalet and take a moment to fill one out. Your feedback, as we’ve listed above, is so important as we constantly try to “get better” and improve your experience when you visit WinMan.

We can’t wait to see you all out on the trails soon!