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A winterized Door County is not something I experienced until last year. My family went on summer vacations to the Door County, but never ventured North for the Winter (after all, we got enough snow where we were!). Last year, I spent New Year’s Eve in Fish Creek living like a local. Our extended weekend was full of skiing and grabbing late night drinks in town to reign in the New Year.
It was one of the most rejuvenating mini-vacations I’ve had. It’s the quieter version of the place you love in summer. The tone is more mellow, slow, relaxed, and cozy.
My last post I wrote about exploring the Door County woods. Winter is my favorite season for this. I’m one of those oddities that thrives on the cold air and fresh snow. It’s snowing today - and I’m lacing up my boots to get outside and taste the snowflakes on my tongue. I absolutely love winter - and I’m thankful I included a Winter trip this year to Door County to enjoy what the peninsula had to offer.
Cross country skiing is my favorite winter activity. I train for the American Birkebeiner, so first on my list was to get in some good ski time while visiting. The peninsula had snow earlier than the southern parts of Wisconsin, so I wanted to wax up the skis and take advantage of the snowfall. Here are my tips for making an enjoyable Door County ski weekend possible.
Where to Go - Ski the Parks and Trails
We started with a few hot laps in Peninsula State Park. I’ve talked about visiting the park for a good run before, but it’s a whole new experience when the trees are blanketed in snow. When I talk about smell in my woods therapy post, this is the season I’m recollecting. Fresh fallen snow and its crisp, icy scent paired with a spicy pine is one of the best smells I think exists. Hence why every Winter candle includes that pine smell, and why we love the fresh-cut Christmas tree in our family room. It’s alluring.
Of the state parks, Newport Beach, Whitefish Dunes, Potawatomi and Peninsula all have sections of groomed trails and some grooming for skate skiers. Any of these parks will give you picturesque woods and great views of the lakeside. Check their websites for candlelight skis. These events make for great family activities and an excuse to get out in the wintertime.
The second day we headed South towards Sturgeon Bay for a day at the Crossroads. These trails are more well-known and where many avid skiers flock to take advantage of the snow cover. The trails were great. They loop through property that has a nice mix of gorgeous woods, historical sites, and prairies. We enjoyed stopping to peek in windows of old settlement buildings and crossing small streams through the woods. They had a nice variety of terrain that kept the day fun (and a sip of hot cocoa at the end)!
What to Bring - Cover Up!
If you have your own skis, you’ll be in good hands. This will also make many “off the beaten path” routes options for you where you don’t need to be close to a rental facility. There are many parks and public areas you can forge your own path on and be more adventurous.
Dress warm! Skiing will give you a great workout, but you still need to protect against the cold. I like to dress like I’m going for a winter run, plus one layer. You’ll definitely want clothes that are easy to move in and not too bulky. A hat, gloves, and buff will protect your hands, head and face from the winter air. I would not leave home without a buff or scarf, when you catch a great downhill on your skis, you’ll be thankful for the layer to protect you from the breeze!
Tips for a Fun Day in the Snow
If you want to spend time in the woods, make sure you dress right. Be smart about the clothes you choose. Wear breathable, warm clothes that cover your ankles, wrists, and neck. A bit of lip balm on your cheeks will prevent wind burn.
The better you plan for the weather, the more time you’ll be able to spend in the snow! After all, they do say: There’s no such thing as bad weather, but bad gear!
If you’re feeling frustrated with skiing, remember to go with the flow! Relax and let the glide of each step propel you forward. Your ski motion should mimic the movement of running, so keeping a good lean forward and propelling your ski with each step will ensure you’re getting a nice glide with each stroke. Remember, skiing is meant to be more efficient than walking through the snow, so ride that glide!
Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled! Find public areas that have nice lakefronts or good acreage for laps. Skis are great for cutting a path. Don’t let the distance of the nearest groomed trail prevent you from getting outside!
Kindly remind your friends that skiers need their track! Be courteous to your fellow skiers and try to ski evenly inside the laid tracks. If you venture out for a walk or snowshoe on trails also groomed for skiing, make sure you walk to the right or left of the groomed trail. There’s a lot of investment in making sure the trails are kept nice during the season, and skiers appreciate when walkers mind the trail!
The best part of skiing is obviously the ski...But if you’re like me, the apres ski (after-ski) is a very close second. Find a local pub that’s open year round to belly up to after your adventure to enjoy a drink or meal. Nothing tastes better than the warm meal and drink you have after a great work out in the cold!
DoorCounty.com offers an updated snow report on their website. Be sure to bookmark it and check often before your trip so you can plan for the best skiing! Visit the Winter Recreation page for events and rental information in the county. Whether you try skiing this season or now, I hope you’ll make it out for a few breaths of the crisp Winter air!
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