Saturday, January 31, 2015

Get Your Skis On!

It's official now.  Milwaukee is a cross country ski destination!  USA Today included us in their top 10 list for best urban cross country ski places in the USA. Madison was included too.  You wouldn't know it this year because we haven't had much snow yet...but the weather man says it's coming tomorrow and there will be plenty for some nice skiing around town.  You don't even need to own any equipment.

Whitnall Park has a small sledding hill that some use for skiing

So where to go?  You can go anywhere in the parks if you have your own equipment, but there are two parks listed on the county website which have groomed trails: Brown Deer and Whitnall.  The advantage to using them is that you'll have access to warmth when you need it and restrooms. Whitnall has rental equipment available at the clubhouse on the weekend for about $25 per session, or you can check it out for a week at $100.  If there is adequate snow, the concession may be open additional days/hours.  You can call to get the official scoop at (414)257-PARK.

You might think the Oak Leaf Trail would be a good place, but those paved trails are generally kept clean for biking commuters during winter, so you won't find good coverage there.

The Urban Ecology Center has XC skis in the lending closets at all three branches, but you need to join to be able to use them.  An annual membership is a bargain when you consider all the cool equipment and classes they offer.  If you're a novice and want a little help, sign up for one of their XC skiing trips around town.  You'll meet some new people and get tips on how to put on the skis gracefully and get moving.  I didn't grow up with skis on my feet and found it to be a bit challenging the first couple times.  It always looked much easier in the James Bond films.  They'll have you skiing like a movie stunt man in no time!  For future events, look at the calendar.

If you have skis, Lynden Sculpture Garden has plenty of outdoor artwork and space for XC skiing, but you'll need to go during open hours and pay admission. Next weekend is their Winter Carnival which is always fun.

There's a Nordic Ski Club of Milwaukee that plans group events year round.  They have a weekly event at Lapham Peak where there is an artificial snow made loop. You can drive out to Delafield and meet them.  Winter hiking is always nice there too.   You'll need a state parks sticker to park a car there.  You can find a drop box at the parking lot where you can purchase a sticker.

Schlitz Audubon has groomed trails and plenty of them.  You need to pay admission inside the visitor's center and bring your own equipment.  You can also head out to Hawthorn Glen, or Havenwoods State Forest.
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