With a solid base of snow on the ground before winter has even
officially started, many people may be wondering where they can
find groomed trails this weekend. Statewide trail condition reports
are updated by noon every Thursday at mndnr.gov.
Based on the most recent reports, the Minnesota Department of
Natural Resources (DNR) offers the following trip-planning
Best snowmobiling: Luce Line and Minnesota River
Valley state trails
Despite frigid temperatures throughout the state this past week,
snowmobiling on ice is not yet safe in many areas, according to the
DNR. Substantial snowpack across much of the state has resulted in
slushy conditions on many Minnesota lakes that are normally
passable by mid-December. For now, the DNR advises sticking to
state trails, because they are either paved or packed beneath the
snow and have bridges in place wherever water must be
In the metro area, groomed trails with the best snow conditions
this weekend include the Luce Line State Trail (between Stubbs Bay
Road near Orono and McLeod County Line, west of Hutchinson) and the
Minnesota River Valley State Trail, from Jordan to Shakopee.
Frontenac State Park near Red Wing and Nerstrand Big Woods State
Park near Northfield also report excellent snowmobile trail
Best skiing: Nerstrand Big Woods, Frontenac, and
Sakatah Lake state parks
The best cross-country skiing within an hour’s drive of the Twin
Cities is to the south, at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park near
Northfield, Frontenac State Park near Red Wing, and Sakatah Lake
State Park near Faribault. The following state parks, also within
an hour’s drive of the Twin Cities, have groomed cross-country ski
trails in good condition: Afton State Park (Hastings), Lake Maria
State Park (Monticello), Wild River State Park (Center City), and
William O’Brien State Park (Marine on St. Croix).
Before skiers age 16 and older hit the trails, they will also need
a Minnesota Ski Pass. Daily ski passes ($6) can be purchased at
park offices or from any of Minnesota’s nearly 1,500 electronic
license system vendors. A vehicle permit ($5 for a one-day permit
or $25 for a year-round permit) is required to enter all Minnesota
state parks. Vehicle permits can be purchased from the parks or at
Twin Cities REI stores.
For more information: call DNR Information Center
at 651-296-6157 (Twin Cities) or toll- free at 888-646-6367 between
8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.