In 2015 WinMan Trails developed a “Phase One” vision for what our trail system could become. As we embark on “Phase Two,” let’s first look back at some of the priorities established back in 2015:
- Develop at least 17 miles of Mountain Bike Trails
- Build 12-15 miles of Cross-Country Skiing offering both Classic and Skate skiing options
- Construct a heated Chalet with indoor restrooms
- Build a shop to store trail building and grooming equipment
- Design a website and social media presence for improved communication
- Develop a larger parking area for potential growth
Thanks to the dedication of our staff, volunteers, and donors, by 2021 those milestones (and many others) were accomplished.
Rather than resting on our laurels, the leadership at WinMan Trails set its sights on the future and began development of what would become our Phase Two vision for the future.
Advisory Board and Consultants Help Hone our Vision
In the Spring of 2020, the WinMan team formed an Advisory Board and set the course for not only Phase Two, but beyond.
The Board worked with several outside consultants to assist in this process. Their guidance aided us in
- Formulating a master trail plan
- Organizing a communication plan
- Formalizing our brand identity
- Developing architecture and design plans for potential expansion
Scott Linnenburger with Kay-Linn Enterprises is one of those consultants. Formerly the Director of Field Programs with IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association), Scott has worked on more than 100 trail projects across the country. He specializes in assisting clients develop projects that fulfill their mission, protect natural resources, and enhance community sustainability.
Based on his extensive experience he feels strongly that WinMan is well positioned to be a destination trail system. Below are portions of the assessment he provided for WinMan Trails.
“WinMan’s location places it squarely within the vehicle-based, weekend to week-long routes of millions of potential visitors. The central location of WinMan Trails combined with the broader regional outdoor recreation experiences available within day-trip distance, provides a great opportunity for WinMan to become the base camp destination of the region. The development of the much broader region as a nationwide mountain biking destination, with destination quality opportunities spaced within a two-hour or less drive, is creating a new visitor market across northern Minnesota, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and Northern Wisconsin. WinMan Trails is located in the “hole” in those destinations that currently exists between Marquette, MI and the Cable-Hayward area. For each of these visitor markets, WinMan Trails can be a major attraction.”Scott Linnenburger, Kay-Linn Enterprises
His broader regional view helped us realize our potential as a trail system. Not only for summer mountain bike visitors, but also winter cross-country skiing and fat tire biking. Our region is quickly developing into a destination and WinMan Trails not only benefits, but can help drive the growth.
WinMan Establishes “Guiding Principles”
More than just a network of trails, we realized a need to grow and evolve into a fully sustainable non-profit that supports our surrounding communities. We will continue to focus on our core mission of providing an exceptional trail-related experience. However, we see the potential of growing into a community hub that truly embodies the Northwoods lifestyle: play hard, explore, and reconnect.
The Advisory Board developed a framework of success to aid in the decision making and growth as part of Phase Two. The result was a list of “Guiding Principles”:
- Establish 25-30 miles of quality mountain biking trails with current and relevant features that we can operationally maintain.
- Establish 28-30 kilometer of quality cross country skiing trails with current and relevant features that we can operationally maintain.
- Develop a sustainable business model that generates sufficient non-profit revenue to meet expenses.
- Demonstrate approximately 10% growth in users, donations, and revenue each year.
- Achieve brand awareness in the surrounding 3–6-hour radius as a destination trail system for both biking and skiing.
- Develop a culture of volunteerism and partnership with our user base.
- Establish a sustainable model of leadership, ownership, and organizational governance.
- Develop and support a proficient WinMan staff.
- Develop and maintain an understanding of our customers and prospects.
- Focus on an exceptional customer experience, repeat visitors, and always adding something new.
- Develop strong community relationships through outreach, trail development, and partnerships.
What Makes WinMan Trails so Special?
Why invest so much time, money, and energy into improving our trail system? The simple answer is, because it’s worth it.
WinMan Trails possess several advantages including our location in the Northwoods of Wisconsin and the natural topography that exists on our land. Year-round we offer opportunities for the entire family, and the quality of our amenities, means that the entire group can enjoy themselves when visiting.
Utilizing best practice building techniques, our machine-built trails enhance the surrounding landscape and forests. Ranging from fast and flowy singletrack, to technical drops and jumps, our trails excite and inspire the rider from the moment they leave the trailhead.
The quality of mountain biking at WinMan Trails has been recognized throughout the state as well as the upper Midwest. Our mountain bike trails provide something genuinely unique in the region. Offering something for all levels of riders with well designed ride arounds so everyone can enjoy the trails together.
In the winter months we provide a similar opportunity for skiers, fat tire bikers, and snowshoers.
An exceptionally well groomed and maintained trail system that is ideal for all levels of skiers. Our ski trails provide a more intimate experience, weaving skiers through maple, pine, and aspen stands.
Our groomed double wide snowshoe trails allow users to walk side by side and make it easy for dogs to come along and enjoy the beautiful landscape too.
The fat tire bike trails give riders a wide variety of terrain and options but in a looped trail system that never takes them too far from the warmth of the chalet.
So What About Beyond?
The launch of our Fundraising Campaign in 2022 will allow us to make significant strides on achieving many of our goals as part of Phase Two and fulfilling our “Guiding Principles.”
However, our vision does not stop there. We have several exciting opportunities we are actively exploring that will improve the WinMan experience even more. We will provide updates and more details about that vision in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned!