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We made the most of a short winter 2015-16

HomeDouble right arrow iconCross Country SkiingDouble right arrow icon

Winter 2015-16 arrived late, detained by a strong El Nino event. The Blue Hills Trail had two months of good skiing, shared by many fun visitors to the trails. Unfortunately, mother nature brought the ski season to an abrupt end in early March. Many thanks to all our supporters and volunteers that make this trail system so special.Here’s a bit of a recap:

  • A very wet summer/fall 2015 made for difficult trail mowing; and created significant challenges due to trail erosion. In October this included one heavily damaged bridge that was successfully repaired; and abandoning another damaged bridge by rerouting a trail section (this trail revision necessitated bulldozing and hand labor). Twice we also repaired extensive trail damage from illicit off road truck traffic.
  • After a discouraging warm, rainy December 2015, the trails finally received a couple inches of snow on December 24th. Another 2" of snow on December 28th allowed our groomers to start working.
  • As cold weather arrived in early January, wet spots began freezing. Careful, meticulous grooming then created good skiing throughout January despite minimal snowfall. By the middle of January, conditions were mostly very good to excellent even though the base was thin. A heavy snowfall on February 2nd allowed grooming of the entire trail system and provided excellent conditions until icy trails developed following a record warm day on February 27th.
  • This year's "Blue Hills Trail Fun Day" was loads of fun: a potluck full moon party on Saturday January 23rd that was very well attended. We enjoyed temps in the 20s, a roaring campfire, drum circle rhythm, great food, and good skiing conditions despite the moon hiding behind an overcast sky.
  • On a warm February 19th, it rained more than half an inch; and on the 20th the trails were saturated wet and very soft after two days with temps above freezing. A skier injury on February 20th led to a local fire department rescue that required the use of a tracked ATV. The rescue was successful, but unfortunately the equipment left deep ruts that closed down about 2 miles of the groomed trails. After repairing one limited portion of the damage, we were able to use a detour of the core loop that kept everyone happy.
  • With temps predicted to skyrocket beginning March 5th, we looked at the weather forecast and then groomed one last time on March 1st. Grooming equipment went to summer storage on Friday March 4th, we skied that weekend and then enjoyed one last morning of good classic skiing on March 7th as temperatures pushed 60 degrees later that afternoon.
  • From December 24th through February 23rd, we received only 24 inches of snow; by early March the total for the season was only 30 inches, easily the lowest seasonal snow total since we've kept records beginning in 1999.
  • We groomed a total of 36 times - and felt lucky we had enough cold weather to enjoy ourselves.
  • This winter of 2015-16, we've once again enjoyed sharing the Blue Hills Trail with visitors from near and far. Thanks to everybody that helps spread the word regarding the beauty of this trail system.

A huge 'shout out' to our groomers. Equipment break downs and mechanical problems were handled efficiently & never compromised the grooming. Thank you to our primary grooming team (Steve Gest, Adam Brockman, & Jesse Wimer) - and to our occasional groomers (Mike Cragg, Ron Jasperson, Tom Paulsen, Steve Porn, and Dave Putnam) - for creating great memories the winter of 2015-16! A sincere thank you to our diverse group of members, volunteers and supporters - you're the best.

January 2, 2016 cross country skiing at the Blue Hills Trail
January 2, 2016 on the ridge line of the Blue Hills Trail
January 2, 2016 cross country skiing at the Blue Hills Trail

January 2, 2016 cross country skiing on the 'Gravel Road' at the Blue Hills Trail

happy skier January 13, 2016
Frosty day January 13, 2016
excellent cross country skiing at the Blue Hills Trail January 19, 2016
January 19, 2016 cross country skiing at the Blue Hills Trail in northwest Wisconsin
excellent cross country skiing at the Blue Hills Trail January 29, 2016
January 29, 2016
classic skiing on the East Side of the Blue Hills Trail in northwest Wisconsin
January 30, 2016 classic skiers enjoy a fresh snowfall
grooming cross country ski trails at the Blue Hills Trail
ski trail grooming at the Blue Hills Trail February 3, 2016
February 3, 2016 night time grooming of the ski trail
nighttime grooming of cross country ski trails at the Blue Hills Trail
February 5, 2016 grooming at sunset
skate skiing on freshly groomed trails at the Blue Hills Trail
February 6, 2016 enjoying the fresh grooming
February 9, 2016 picture perfect grooming of the Blue Hills Trail
picture perfect grooming February 9, 2016
gorgeous surroundings while cross country skiing at the Blue Hills Trail
February 9, 2016 was a gorgeous day for cross country skiing
an enthusiastic group of skiers from Andorra posed for a photo at the warming house
February 18, 2016 a group of cross country skiers from Andorra (Europe) visited the Blue Hills Trail
visitors from Europe enjoying the Blue Hills Trail in northern Wisconsin
Europeans enjoying the Blue Hills Trail
welcome to the Blue Hills Trail
welcome to the Blue Hills Trail
late winter cross country skiing at the Blue Hills Trail
February 22, 2016 on the West Side of the Blue Hills Trail in northern Wisconsin
great conditions for cross country skiing February 22, 2016
February 22, 2016 great conditions on the West Side 'Lollipop'
photo collage shows work that fixed broken axle on the Gator
February 26, 2018 photo collage (above) shows work that fixed broken axle on the Gator

Late February 2016 cross country skiing on the East Side of the Blue Hills Trail
late February 2016 on the East Side of the Blue Hills Trail
2015-16 winter was worth crowing about
2015-16 winter was short but worth crowing about

Image information: If you want to save any images from this blog post for yourself, simply right click the full size image to obtain the original. Higher quality images are available by contacting our website.  To avoid copyright infringement, reprints must credit the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc.

We made the most of a short winter 2015-16

HomeDouble right arrow iconCross Country SkiingDouble right arrow icon

Winter 2015-16 arrived late, detained by a strong El Nino event. The Blue Hills Trail had two months of good skiing, shared by many fun visitors to the trails. Unfortunately, mother nature brought the ski season to an abrupt end in early March. Many thanks to all our supporters and volunteers that make this trail system so special.Here’s a bit of a recap:

  • A very wet summer/fall 2015 made for difficult trail mowing; and created significant challenges due to trail erosion. In October this included one heavily damaged bridge that was successfully repaired; and abandoning another damaged bridge by rerouting a trail section (this trail revision necessitated bulldozing and hand labor). Twice we also repaired extensive trail damage from illicit off road truck traffic.
  • After a discouraging warm, rainy December 2015, the trails finally received a couple inches of snow on December 24th. Another 2" of snow on December 28th allowed our groomers to start working.
  • As cold weather arrived in early January, wet spots began freezing. Careful, meticulous grooming then created good skiing throughout January despite minimal snowfall. By the middle of January, conditions were mostly very good to excellent even though the base was thin. A heavy snowfall on February 2nd allowed grooming of the entire trail system and provided excellent conditions until icy trails developed following a record warm day on February 27th.
  • This year's "Blue Hills Trail Fun Day" was loads of fun: a potluck full moon party on Saturday January 23rd that was very well attended. We enjoyed temps in the 20s, a roaring campfire, drum circle rhythm, great food, and good skiing conditions despite the moon hiding behind an overcast sky.
  • On a warm February 19th, it rained more than half an inch; and on the 20th the trails were saturated wet and very soft after two days with temps above freezing. A skier injury on February 20th led to a local fire department rescue that required the use of a tracked ATV. The rescue was successful, but unfortunately the equipment left deep ruts that closed down about 2 miles of the groomed trails. After repairing one limited portion of the damage, we were able to use a detour of the core loop that kept everyone happy.
  • With temps predicted to skyrocket beginning March 5th, we looked at the weather forecast and then groomed one last time on March 1st. Grooming equipment went to summer storage on Friday March 4th, we skied that weekend and then enjoyed one last morning of good classic skiing on March 7th as temperatures pushed 60 degrees later that afternoon.
  • From December 24th through February 23rd, we received only 24 inches of snow; by early March the total for the season was only 30 inches, easily the lowest seasonal snow total since we've kept records beginning in 1999.
  • We groomed a total of 36 times - and felt lucky we had enough cold weather to enjoy ourselves.
  • This winter of 2015-16, we've once again enjoyed sharing the Blue Hills Trail with visitors from near and far. Thanks to everybody that helps spread the word regarding the beauty of this trail system.

A huge 'shout out' to our groomers. Equipment break downs and mechanical problems were handled efficiently & never compromised the grooming. Thank you to our primary grooming team (Steve Gest, Adam Brockman, & Jesse Wimer) - and to our occasional groomers (Mike Cragg, Ron Jasperson, Tom Paulsen, Steve Porn, and Dave Putnam) - for creating great memories the winter of 2015-16! A sincere thank you to our diverse group of members, volunteers and supporters - you're the best.

January 2, 2016 cross country skiing at the Blue Hills Trail
January 2, 2016 on the ridge line of the Blue Hills Trail
January 2, 2016 cross country skiing at the Blue Hills Trail

January 2, 2016 cross country skiing on the 'Gravel Road' at the Blue Hills Trail

happy skier January 13, 2016
Frosty day January 13, 2016
excellent cross country skiing at the Blue Hills Trail January 19, 2016
January 19, 2016 cross country skiing at the Blue Hills Trail in northwest Wisconsin
excellent cross country skiing at the Blue Hills Trail January 29, 2016
January 29, 2016
classic skiing on the East Side of the Blue Hills Trail in northwest Wisconsin
January 30, 2016 classic skiers enjoy a fresh snowfall
grooming cross country ski trails at the Blue Hills Trail
ski trail grooming at the Blue Hills Trail February 3, 2016
February 3, 2016 night time grooming of the ski trail
nighttime grooming of cross country ski trails at the Blue Hills Trail
February 5, 2016 grooming at sunset
skate skiing on freshly groomed trails at the Blue Hills Trail
February 6, 2016 enjoying the fresh grooming
February 9, 2016 picture perfect grooming of the Blue Hills Trail
picture perfect grooming February 9, 2016
gorgeous surroundings while cross country skiing at the Blue Hills Trail
February 9, 2016 was a gorgeous day for cross country skiing
an enthusiastic group of skiers from Andorra posed for a photo at the warming house
February 18, 2016 a group of cross country skiers from Andorra (Europe) visited the Blue Hills Trail
visitors from Europe enjoying the Blue Hills Trail in northern Wisconsin
Europeans enjoying the Blue Hills Trail
welcome to the Blue Hills Trail
welcome to the Blue Hills Trail
late winter cross country skiing at the Blue Hills Trail
February 22, 2016 on the West Side of the Blue Hills Trail in northern Wisconsin
great conditions for cross country skiing February 22, 2016
February 22, 2016 great conditions on the West Side 'Lollipop'
photo collage shows work that fixed broken axle on the Gator
February 26, 2018 photo collage (above) shows work that fixed broken axle on the Gator

Late February 2016 cross country skiing on the East Side of the Blue Hills Trail
late February 2016 on the East Side of the Blue Hills Trail
2015-16 winter was worth crowing about
2015-16 winter was short but worth crowing about
No items found.

How to view images: To see larger versions of the thumbnail photos above, click on the thumbnail. If you want to save the image for yourself, simply right click the full size image to obtain the original. Higher quality images are available by contacting our website.  To avoid copyright infringement, reprints must credit the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc.

Blue Hills Trail

instagram updates
@bluehillstrailwisconsin
We just completed some bulldozing that will really make our skiers happy this winter. Visit our blog for more photos, video, and the full story: link above in bio⬆️ #bluehillstrailwisconsin #ruskcountywi #skitrailwork
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Taming the tall grasses on the Blue Hills Trail. Hiking & biking conditions are good. Visit our website to see where we’ve been mowing (look at ‘Trail Conditions’ top center of the page). #ruskcountywi #bluehillstrailwisconsin #skitrailwork
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Nice day for a walk in the woods. Pause to appreciate the hidden gems. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #naturegems #springawakening #ruskcountywi
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Crazy is as Crazy does. Had to cross multiple stretches of bare ground to find skiable snow on the East Side Ridgeline yesterday. A laughing fun adventure - shared with the snow fleas. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #snowfleas #snowinthewoods #skiingondirtisbetterthannoskiing #skiingondirt
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Sap’s running. So are my skis. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #springskiing
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What a fantastic week of skiing it was! Celebrate our week long ‘Virtual Birkie Races’ by visiting our blog. Link in bio ⬆️ #bluehillstrailwisconsin #birkiefever #winterwisconsin #wisconsinwinter
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Fresh snow Wednesday morning, fresh grooming Wednesday evening, then Thursday sunshine and temps in the mid thirties. A perfect Bluebird day in the Blue Hills - another memorable day for Virtual Birkie skiers. Congrats to all! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #bluebirdday
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2” fresh snow Sunday evening, then groomed about 3/4 of the trail system Sunday night. Found untouched fresh corduroy this morning. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #freshcorduroy #skitrails #skitrailgrooming #winterwisconsin
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Mighty fine skiing today. Look at all these smiley faces! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #nordicskiing #kidsonskis #winterfun #ruskcountywi #birkiefever2021 #birkiefever
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Classic classic track. Shady Way trail on the East Side. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #birkebeiner #waxmyskis #snowisfun
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Monday sunrise -25 F was coldest day of this otherwise mild winter. Reached zero by mid afternoon when classic skiing was a kick! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #bluehillstrail #colderthanapolarbearstoenails #winterfun #belowzero
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Cold, sunny days. A good time to explore our snowshoe trails. Human rope tows are a FUNctional assist on the steeper hills. Swipe to see a video example. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #wisconsinsnowshoeing #northwoodswisconsin #ruskcounty #subzerofun
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Come ski the Hills! Virtually! The Blue Hills Trail is excited to be a BIRKIE VIRTUAL VENUE PARTNER. We've outlined three separate race routes for our trail system. A snapshot of one of those routes is shown with this post. VISIT OUR BLOG to see the rest of the routes and get the details. Link in Bio ⬆️ #bluehillstrailwisconsin #birkiefever #americanbirkebeiner
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Single digits Fahrenheit. Toko mint grip wax. A classic day on Excelsior Road. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #skiclassic #tokowax #kickwax #wisconsinwinter
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This is the steep straight down/up portion of our trail that connects our East and West Side trails (located between J and K on the West Side). Swipe to see what’s hiding under the snow. Last fall Scott Gudis Sand & Gravel (Bruce, WI) did a great job of replacing a damaged culvert. Thanks to Scott, we can safely ski this hill. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #culvertreplacement #heavyequipmentoperators #brucewisconsin #skiingisfun
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Excelsior Road and West Side trails: THE place to ski yesterday. Fantastic conditions! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #groundhogsday #classicskiing #skateski
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Another day full of smiles at the Blue Hills Trail. Ain’t winter great! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #aintwintergrand #wisconsinwinter #xcskiinglife
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The equipment that grooms our ski trails takes a beating. We recently were again amazed by the capabilities of a nearby machine shop that fabricated a special washer for improving the durability of our Camoplast tracks. Visit our latest blog post to be amazed: link in bio⬆️ #bluehillstrailwisconsin #cphenterprises #waterjetcutting #ruskcountywi
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Gator rescue! Our John Deere Gator suddenly stalled out on a steep hillside a couple days ago. Yesterday we got it running, and were able to move it back to our trailhead before it quit again. Swipe to see the 5 videos showing the rescue. Now it’s time for Dr. Gator. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #gatorrescue #winterchallenges #skitrailgrooming
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Dynamite grooming. Dynamite skiing. Come Ski the Hills! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #bluehillstrail #covidescape #skiforfun #ruskcountywi
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Video shows our groomer looking ahead while setting classic track behind. Swipe for photo of finished results on ‘Excelsior Road’ trail. Nice to see the sun again. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #skitrailgrooming #powdersnow❄️ #foresttherapy #freshcorduroy #fluffypowder
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Rollercoaster Trail at Blue Hills Trail. Built a dozen years ago, anyone can ski it in the uphill direction. Downhill, it’s a bit of a thrill. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #rollercoasters #rollercoasterride #skicrosscountry #funonsnow
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At the Blue Hills Trail, “what goes down, must come up”. Plenty of hills to satisfy your training needs. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #getoutside #cardioworkout #crosscountryskiing #skateskiing
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January 20, 2021. A very good day. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #bluehillstrail #otterslide #fastskis #skinnyskis #ruskcountywi
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Busy Sunday in the Blue Hills. Skate skiing on the ‘Gravel Road’. Classic skiing on the East Side Ridgeline. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #snowislife #skiforfun #wisconsinlife
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Photo shows our trails midday today. Surprisingly firm and skiable despite warm temps and some rain. We’re gonna try grooming this evening. Please be patient, it might take a few days to get yesterday’s new snow up to snuff. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #bluehillstrail #skitrailgrooming #aintwintergrand #heavywetsnow #wegotsnow #winterwisconsin
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A quick lesson in ski trail grooming: With snow headed our way, this was a good day to use our trail compactor to level the high spots and washboard on a few select trails. Should result in a smoother skate deck. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #skitrailgrooming #snowgrooming #skateskiing #skateski #ruskcountywi #bluehillstrail
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Hoar frost / Rime frost topping on the trails today January 12th. Wonderful skiing - do yourself a favor and SKI THE HILLS January 13th - you’ll be happy you did. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #bluehillstrail #foresttherapy #ruskcountywi #getyourvitamind #iloveskiing #escapetothehills #winterinwisconsin
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As Good As It Gets! Two January 10 videos show great skiing on Excelsior Road - Blue Hills Trail in northwest Wisconsin. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #xcclassicski #skiclassic #skateski #asgoodasitgets #januaryinwisconsin #wisconsinwinter
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Another fun day getting my kicks in the Hills. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #xcclassic #xcskier #chasingyourdream
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Not much snow, but our groomers have made the most of it. Two videos showing good skiing on the East Side trails - January 6, 2021. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #januaryinwisconsin #wisconsinlife #wisconsinoutdoors #wisconsinwinter #skateski #ruskcounty
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A ‘Rime Frost’ blue skies sunny day - fun day for skiing the Blue Hills Trail. Pictures are from the West Side of the trail system. Swipe for video taken on the ‘Lollipop’. Trail conditions updated daily at website, link in Bio ⬆️ #bluehillstrailwisconsin #fundayonskis #wisconsinwinter #sunnyski #mansbestfriend🐶 #justenoughsnowforme #justenoughsnowtoski
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Sun burnt off the fog, visitors enjoyed a hoarfrost snowfall on the trails. Great place to socially distance with family & friends! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #sociallydistanceoutdoors #hoarfrost #wevegotsnow #fasterskier #skiwithfriends
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Packed powder skiing on New Year’s Day. Loads of visitors welcomed 2021! Video shows the East/West crossover trail. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #packedpowder #skateski #classicski #welcome2021
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Good skiing through the hoarfrost on New Years Eve day. Get the daily scoop by visiting ‘Trail Conditions’ on our website - link in bio⬆️. Wishing you a happy healthy 2021! #bluehillstrailwisconsin #skinnyski #skinnyskis #crosscountryskiwithkids #xcski
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Excelsior Road (West Side) and The Gravel Road (East Side) were groomed last evening. Skiing this afternoon I was treated to 1” of feathers on top of the fresh grooming! Gonna groom these same trail segments again this evening. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #silentsports #silenceofnature🌳⛅️🗻 #skiingonfeathers #beautyofwinter
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Many of our 20+ miles of ski trails have received initial grooming in the past several days. The best skiing is shown as green highlights on the attached maps. And did you know our West Side trails are dog friendly? Be sure to visit our website where you’ll find ‘TRAIL CONDITIONS’ updated daily: link in Bio ⬆️ #bluehillstrailwisconsin #skijoring #foresttherapy #classicskiing #dogsonsnow
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Christmas in the Blue Hills. Very good skating on Excelsior Road this afternoon; pretty good striding as well. Groomers will be out working again tomorrow. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #christmasski #ruskcounty #skateskiing #skiwithdogs
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After yesterday’s rain, Santa brought snow - enough to start grooming the ski trails! This afternoon we rolled the ‘Gravel Road’ on the East Side trails, and ‘Excelsior Road’ on the West Side. Thanks Santa. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #earlywinterskiing #xcs #xcskiing #skinnyski
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A little more snow and we may be able to do some grooming. Today we moved our workhorse snowmobile to its winter home. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #wisconsinoutdoors #ruskcountywi #weneedsnow #crosscountryskiing
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Lunch time. Even busy beavers need a break now & then. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #busybeaver #busyasabeaver #timber
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Not enough snow to ski the trails. BUT very good skiing on Audie Lake - 2.5 miles northwest of the warming house. Audie is always an enjoyable getaway. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #wisconsinwinter #xcskiingonlakes #xcski #frozenlakes #silenceofnature
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Pictures from our ‘Rabbit Trail’ where bunnies made a fresh appearance on the Blue Hills Trail today. It felt like October today - 48 degrees F - way too warm for December! It’s time to cool down, then Santa needs to bring us some snow. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #whereiswinter #xcskiingwithoutsnow
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Every other year our volunteers replace all the intersection maps. That’s 60 maps, but who’s counting? Combined with excellent signage, it makes it easy to get your bearings on the Blue Hills Trail. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #trailvolunteers #xcskitrails #foresttherapy #findyourselfoutside
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Good hiking in early December. Frost is entering the ground, the ski trails are ready for snow. Photos show the biggest oak tree in the County Forest; hiking on the ‘Far East’ trail; and our Gator doing some trail work on the West Side trails. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #trailwork #hikingwisconsin #weneedsnow
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Big News! Wisconsin's Blue Hills Trail has revised its website, its maps, its blog - and added an Instagram account. Spread the word. VISIT THE BLOG for details – link in bio ⬆️ #bluehillstrailwisconsin #crosscountryskiing #skinnyski #ruskcountywi #ricelakewi #travelwisconsin #tomterrifik
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1.5” big fluffy parachute snowflakes today. Might actually be able to ski on some of our trails — even though the underlying ground isn’t yet frozen. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #winterinwisconsin #crosscountryskiing #xcskiing
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Tight corner. Placed orange driveway markers at the edge. Gotta keep our groomers on track. #bluehillstrailwisconsin
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After unseasonably warm weather in the first week of November, more wintry weather will start to freeze the trails. Hopefully x-country skiing is just around the corner. This photo was taken on the East Side trails - it shows one of our most important bridges. #bluehillstrailwisconsin
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Bridge building in October successfully spanned a small creek that was always a challenge to summertime mowing & wintertime grooming of our ski trails. #bluehillstrailwisconsin
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