On Tuesday this week Jessica and I had to bring our car to Duluth for a service appointment so we decided to take advantage of our time in the area and head over to the Boulder Lake Management Area for an afternoon ski. What a delight this turned out to be! The trails were in excellent shape and the facilities were phenomenal. Even the trail signage at the various trail junctions was very well done, incorporating the use of a satellite photo overlaid with color-coded trails.
Best of all, it was FREE! The BLMA is cooperatively managed by Minnesota Power, the St. Louis County Land Department and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. There is an excellent warming/changing shack at the trailhead that is superbly maintained. In fact, it looks almost new! It was a very comfortable building, and even had hot water available along with a selection of hot cocoa. Even the outhouse was VERY clean and well-maintained.
We were very impressed with this ski system. Once we were ready to ski we headed north to try the Rolling Pin/Ridge Runner Trail as a warm-up. This was a beautiful section of trail that traversed a narrow ridge and had some fun hills on it. After that we headed over to the south side of the warming shack. To get there you ski across Boulder Lake, then you are in the midst of a beautiful pine forest. The trails here were mostly flat, but still had some nice downhill grades here and there. We did the Bear Paw and Blue Ox loops and had a blast. It was a lot of fun and gave a normally mundane "Duluth necessity" trip a needed dose of excitement!