We have exciting ski trail updates to share so you’re ready for the upcoming 2023/24 winter season. New trails. New maps. New routes. New improvements.
New Ski Trails
Let’s start with perhaps the most exciting addition – brand new ski trail. We have continued to explore options for ski trail additions on our existing property for several years. Unfortunately, much of the available land to the east is scattered with various wetlands. This greatly impacts our ability to design and build a trail wide enough for quality skiing.
After years of consideration and working with the DNR we were able to design a trail that takes advantage of some of rolling terrain while still protecting and preserving the wetlands in the area.
Expanded Out & Back
We have a new 1.5k section of trail that extends east beyond the old Out & Back loop. This portion will only be groomed for skate skiing due to the tight turns and relatively narrow design of the trail.
The trail will challenge your turning, speed and technique as you wind through the forest. We have designated this a black diamond level trail for our system as a result. We think it will be a great loop to session over and over again and challenge your best time as the season progresses.
The other new section in this area is a connector trail that affords our skiers great new route options; including the ability to ski the Out & Back sections of our system then easily reconnect with the rest of the trails.
This trail does cross a designated wetland. The term wetland can be misleading. This is not a marsh or a portion of land that we need to let freeze. It is actually dry 11 months out of the year. However the vegetation and soil means it does qualify as a wetland. The result is we have to build trail a little different to preserve this habitat.
When crossing a designated wetland you cannot disturb the soil. However, you can remove vegetation and trees at ground level. After some small tree removal, we found a nice section of level ground that weaves in and around some large, beautiful standing trees.
We feel confident the ski quality in this 200 foot section of trail will be very good with some work from our team. However it will be somewhat narrow to get between the trees.
So for this small section of trail, we may not be able to set tracks (especially early in the year) but we will be sure the skiing is safe for your equipment.
The benefit, some really great trail and improved overall navigation and route options at WinMan. We hope you all get a chance to check out this new trail and let us know what you think.
The final new trail for 2023 is what we are calling our Practice Loop. The idea for this trail came from one of our users on last year’s winter survey – thank you.
This is a short, 0.3k trail, that leaves from the main trailhead, but rather than sending you out to the full trail system, skiers will take a right and wrap around the back of the sledding hill.
While not a long trail, it will be a nice loop for skiers of all abilities. There are some mild elevation changes and several turns each direction to allow you to work on your skills. We think it will be a great trail to help share and teach Nordic skiing with friends and family new to the sport.
Being so close to the chalet, it will also be a perfect spot to test your wax for the day or just get a few more strides in while you wait on others.
We are continuing work this fall to identify new trails that can be built on our existing property. We are actively working towards a classic only trail to compliment our new skate only trail, but it’s too soon to tell when or where that will be located.
Before I break down the new routes, it may help to see our new 2023/24 map and bring your attention to some changes.
WinMan continues to be a trail system that supports and encourages you to adventure outside, year-round, with your favorite 4-legged friends. But to make sure everyone has a great experience at WinMan, we only allow dogs on certain portions of our groomed ski trail system.
There have been no changes to which trails allow dogs. We still offer about 8k of trails to enjoy with your dog. What we have added is new designations on the maps, and new signs on the trail, where dogs are allowed or restricted. If you are looking for a dog free ski, we recommend taking a right when leaving the chalet or using our Papoose Trailhead.
We have simplified communication on trail difficulty by removing symbols on each section of trail and consolidating the info into our route key. We hope you find this method easier to find the right trail for you.
You will also notice a new location of our trailside fire pit and warming hut. We have moved them to Post E (was at Post J last year) to allow for more skiers to easily visit. This intersection also lends itself more to stopping and gathering due to its size and layout. Be on the lookout on social media for announcements of free s’mores, cookies and hot cocoa on select Saturdays throughout the winter at the hut.
Fair warning, this is going to get a little detailed. If you haven’t already, you may want to print the new ski map to follow along.
We have a new 10k route, new 7k route and added a new 5.7k route from our Papoose Trailhead.
We know, sometimes when you are skiing it is far easier to just follow our color coded routes than create one on your own (we do the same thing). So to keep exposing you to new sections of our system and provide new adventures, we have made some changes.
The major overhaul is to our 10k route which will take advantage of our new connector trail.
Skiers will now travel down what used to be the start of our old Out & Back. We have widened some narrow sections and improved the surface on this trail to handle the increased usage. Skiers will then take a right onto the new connector and be greeted with a gorgeous forest and nice moderate climb out of the wetland section.
If you are feeling good and want to add a few more kilometers, you can easily make that decision and continue onto the Out & Back sections and do a lap (or several) before continuing on with the rest of your 10k ski.
The new 7k route is also taking advantage of some trail improvements we did this season. Skiers will now take a right at Post P and stay on trail that is better suited for the average 7k distance skier.
We widened and reduced the grade near Post R and installed new culverts at the creek crossing to make that portion more enjoyable and easier to groom. This route still offers some fun up and downs as you ski from Post R to Post S but are more approachable than what existed on the old route.
Finally our newest route is a 5.7k route that starts and ends at our Papoose Trailhead. Sure, you can still use this trailhead and jump on the the 10k, 7k, or 4.6k interval routes as you have before. But you now have a unique designated route that is fully marked and signed and uses some of our staffs favorite portions of trail.
The section of trail between Post S and Post J is really nice with some great views and a good, steady hill climb. Another staff favorite is the trail past Post N, offering some nice rolling hills and beautiful forests to enjoy.
Another great advantage of this new route is you can easily turn it into a 9k by continuing out to Post Y and doing the first portion of the Out & Back. Or for our skate skiers, make it an 10.5k route by doing both Out & Back sections before rejoining the route at Post K.
We hope you enjoy exploring both brand new (and new to you) ski trail this winter when you visit WinMan. We would love to hear your feedback on the new routes.
Additional Trail Improvements
The team has been really busy this fall working throughout the property. In addition to everything I just listed, we made several notable trail improvements that will continue to elevate and improve the ski experience for everyone.
The most significant improvement was widening the 0.3k of trail between Posts K and L. In the past, this trail has been one-way only. With this improvement, we will now be able to groom it each direction providing more route options while out on the trails.
We continued the idea of widening to allow for safer 2-way traffic when leaving the chalet to the right. At the top of the hill near the WinMan One fat tire bike crossing, we widened the trail for improved site lines. We hope to widen it even more this fall if weather and time allows but some changes to the bike trails will need to occur at the same time. If we run out of time this season, it will be on the improvement list for 2024.
We also rented some heavy machinery to reduce crowning in multiple sections throughout the system and level the grade in others. Specifically, we improved the slope on the 1.6k and 2.7k loop just past Post B to make those beginner trails easier for new and younger skiers.
Finally, both skiers and snowshoers will notice expanded parking at our Papoose Trailhead with significant changes and improvements planned for 2024 and 2025. We are currently working on some long term planning to add camping and lodging (and more trails) from this secondary trailhead.
This winter it will mean more parking spots and some temporary signage in place while we finalize plans for construction to begin in 2024.
Phewww…that was a lot.
One of the things that makes WinMan so unique is our consistent focus on offering a year-round trail experience. We hope you enjoy these improvements this winter as we continue to plan and budget for more improvements in the future. As always, let us know what you think. You can email Isaac at WinManTrails@gmail.com and be sure to fill our our winter survey located in the chalet all season long.