Avoiding the Crowds

December 4, 2011

Unless you're a racer looking for that Birkie experience, most skiers prefer skiing on relatively uncrowded trails.  However, Minnesota hosts the largest high school Nordic skiing program in the United States.  Many schools field teams with over 100 skiers.  And there are dozens of citizen ski races held in area parks.   This means chances are you'll eventually run into a crowded or closed trail system.  And if its a poor snow year, the Twin Cities metro area may have only 15K of snowmaking trail to share with thousands of skiers.

But there are some ways to avoid the crowds...

General tips

  • Most of the popular venues will probably have multiple high school teams practicing on weekdays between the hours of 2:30 and 5:30 pm.   Some meets may run later if there are lighted trails.  The Minnesota high school racing season runs mid-November to mid-February.
  • There are generally 1-2 citizen races in the Twin Cities on any given weekend, and those are almost always held before noon.
  • In the early season, and years when we have poor snowfall, trails with snowmaking facilities can obviously be very crowded.  Try to pick times like early morning or evening when the crowds were usually smaller.  The most intense period of usage is late January and early February, when Minnesota high schools hold all-day conference and section championships.
  • Its always a good idea to have a backup trail system in mind, in case you arrive to a crowded site -- there are over 50 trails within the Twin Cities metro area, be flexible. Some backup suggestions:
    • Como: Gross Golf Course or the Univ of Minnesota Golf Course.
    • Elm Creek:  French Regional Park or Coon Rapids Regional Park.
    • Baker: Burls Oak Golf Course or French.
    • Theodore Wirth: Columbia Golf Course, French or Univ of Minnesota Golf Course.
    • Hyland: Starring Lake or Terrace Oaks.
    • Murphy-Hanrehan:  Cleary or Terrace Oaks.
    • Battle Creek:  Battle Creek East (a couple of blocks to the east) or Phalen Golf Course.
    • William O'Brien State Park:  Pine Point Park or Jackson Meadow.
    • Troll Hollow:  Balsam Branch or William O'Brien.


While there isn't one single page for all the scheduled events across the region, you can usually find information on the trail systems you are considering from one of these resources ...