January Trails Talk
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING TRAILS
The cold and snow can limit opportunities to get on our bikes and enjoy the trails, however, we are fortunate to have great cross country skiing trails in the Iowa Great Lakes to enjoy during the winter months. Groomed trails are available at Brooks Golf Course up to the Dickinson County Nature Center and at Kettleson Hogsback WMA on the west side of Big Spirit Lake.
The Brooks-Nature Center Trail offers classic (traditional) cross country ski tracks and a wide skate ski lane. Recently, the DCTB sold our old snowmobile at Hogsback which
enabled us to get a new groomer and track setter at this location. It was a much need improvement to the operation that was also supported by a number of donations to our cross country skiing fund.
Eric Hoien, who grooms the trail at Kettleson Hogsback says, “The Marble Lake-Hogsback DNR area, in my mind, is probably one of the best areas that I know of in Northwest Iowa to cross country ski. There are flat trails, somewhat hilly trails, and one loop that has 2-3 big hills that are pretty challenging. All told, there is just shy of five kilometers of skiable trails, all on public land. We have been setting classic tracks for over 15 years now and, being in the woods, it is fairly protected from the wind making for more comfortable skiing on windy days. And, there is usually wildlife to be seen as well.” Hoien adds, “This year is one of the best snow years I have seen in years, if not decades, and the skiing has been excellent. Being skiers as well, we always get out to groom the best trails we can as the weather allows, and people have really come to enjoy it.”
These trails are possible thanks to local volunteers Bob Waters, Eric Hoien and Finley Hoien along with support from the DCTB. The DCTB continues to provide updates on snow and trail conditions on our Facebook site as well. Thank you to the Polaris Foundation for supporting our work and the volunteers that provide us with superior cross country skiing trails to enjoy during the snowy season. If you are interested in donating to the cross country skiing fund, please visit www.dickinsoncountytrails.com/donate .
WINTER HIKING TRAILS
Winter is a wonderful time to hike nature trails in the Iowa Great Lakes. A couple of my favorites include the Barney Peterson Memorial Trail across the road from Gull Point State Park and Henderson Woods adjacent to the trail bridge at the Lake Minnewashta boat ramp. Bundle up this winter and enjoy exploring some new scenery where you will discover a few surprises along the way as well as abundant wildlife.
SNOWMOBILES & TRAILS
With all of the snow this winter there have been questions regarding snowmobiles on the Dickinson County Trails. There are several places where we share trail space with our local SnowHawks snowmobile club. The club grooms segments along the Spine Trail and several stretches of state highway right of way where we also have trails. The Iowa DOT has given permission for both trail systems to use their right of way so we have to share that space. The Spine Trail also has a long-standing history of being a shared use trail with snowmobiles. Trail users should refer to the SnowHawks trail map and note that only groomed DCTB trails are open for snowmobile use.
Because the SnowHawks groom the trails, it makes them more accessible for pedestrians and fat tire bikes to use them in the winter. This increased traffic by different user groups means we must all be mindful and respect each other on the trail. Pedestrians and bikers should step aside to allow snowmobiles to pass and snowmobiles should take care and slow down passing them. While this may seem like conflicting use, with respect and care, we can all enjoy the trails in the winter and appreciate the mutually beneficial relationship between the two. For more information about the SnowHawks and where they groom trails, visit www.dickinsoncountysnowhawks.com.
NOTE: Per Iowa statute, ATV/UTV/OHV vehicles are not allowed on the Dickinson County Trails. However, these vehicles can use nearly every road and highway in Dickinson County. Please review state regulations regarding the use of ATV’s on state highways here www.legis.iowa.gov/all-terrain-vehicles.pdf as well as any applicable local ordinances.
As always, Happy Trails to You and Yours.
Erin Reed, DCTB Executive Director