Blue Hills Trail CONDITIONS
Sunday - evening update
Packed powder conditions, very good skating and striding.
A very destructive mid December ice storm (visit our blog for photos etc) initially shut down our skiing. Despite the December ice storm, about half of our East Side trails are open; Excelsior Road is open on the West Side. Click here for helpful maps that show our open trails.
Snowshoers: we prefer you use the Ridges Snowshoe Trail as your first option. If snowshoeing on the groomed ski trail, please snowshoe well to the side. On January 26, a great new loop was added to the Ridges Trail - the 'Highland Loop' - it climbs to the Ridgeline near intersection #12. Click here to learn about the 'Highland Loop'.
Autumn 2022, loggers cut a large timber sale on the East Side in the vicinity of the Otter Slide and Far East trails (those trails are the furthest 'east' trails). In late January, when the ground is well frozen, loggers will haul those logs to market using a route to the east and mostly separate from the ski trails. Click here for a map showing the involved trails.
January 27: 2" fine grained dry snow
grooming & MOWING
Grooming Report / Plans --- note: due to December 15 extensive ice storm damage, grooming is currently limited to about half of the East Side trails and Excelsior Road on the West Side. These are some of our favorite trails. Click here to see where we're grooming.
January 28 evening: touched up the skate deck
January 27 evening: groomed all the open trails - including fresh classic track
Blue Hills Trail History
The Blue Hills Trail of northern Wisconsin's Rusk County began as an eleven-mile complex of loops nestled within a rolling deciduous forest cut by small streams and sprinkled with red and white pines, balsam, and hemlock. It has since been expanded to a 22-mile system that is considered one of the most scenic cross-country ski trails in the Midwest. The trail's many loops and intersections allow skiers to make their outings as long and challenging or as short and easy as desired.
The East Side 11km 'Core Loop' receives priority grooming attention. Taken in a counterclockwise direction, the loop follows 3 kilometers of easy terrain before climbing to the ridge-line. Tight corners on both ends of the loop have been widened and banked to make them more skier-friendly.
The trail system is groomed for both skating and striding by a 2020 Honda Pioneer 1000 UTV with Mattracks tracks, and a 2017 Arctic Cat Bearcat Groomers Special snowmobile (4-stroke machine) pulling a variety of high-tech implements including: a medium and a large G2 (Generation 2 Tidd Tech Products) with track setters, one ABR compaction drag, and two rollers/compactors (Yellowstone Track Systems Products). The Tidd Tech implements have electric actuators for adjusting teeth "on the fly" - and adjusting track setter pressure plus elevation while moving.
The club has worked hard to make the trail an enjoyable experience for skiers of all ability levels. In addition to skiing, the trail is open to snowshoers (skating lane or off trail only, please). With its starting point at the warming house, a dedicated snowshoe trail was added December 2011.
Hiking and biking are encouraged during the non-winter seasons; mountain bikers may find the west side of the trail system more user friendly. Hunters have always been welcome in the fall. Pit toilets are available at the trailhead. A log warming house was built during the fall of 1998.
The trailhead is located on the east side of Fire Lane Road, 2.5 miles north of the road's intersection with County Highway O. This junction is 8 miles northwest of Bruce and 0.5 miles east of Christie Mountain Downhill Snow Area. The entire trail system is non-motorized: the east side of the trail system, which includes the original, heavily wooded part of the system, is closed to horses; the more open west side features large beaver ponds and sweeping vistas, and during the winter months the west side is also closed to horses. Both sides may be accessed from the trailhead.
The original trail and subsequent extensions were developed with the cooperation and assistance of the Rusk County Forestry Department. Major funding and donations in kind for startup and development were provided by Wildlife Restoration Association and Bruce Jaycees as well as many other area groups and individuals. Additional donations have been provided by a large and diverse number of local organizations and individuals.
Perennial expenses include trail grooming costs, the purchase and maintenance of grooming and mowing equipment, insurance, fuel for the warming house's propane furnace, summertime mowing, and the cost of signage, bridgework and culverting. Club members maintain the warming house and pit toilets year round. They also pick rocks, clear downed trees, repair washouts, replace signs, and brush the trail margins annually.
The Blue Hills Trail Association would like to thank the following for their help in 1998-2023 with the Blue Hills Trail and the log warming house: American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation Inc., DNR Park Aids Grant, Richard Gralewicz Memorial, Jump River Electric, Senes Mestelle Memorial, Jeld-Wen Windows & Doors, In Honor of Jean Replinger, Rice Lake Tourism, Rusk County Tourism, Rusk County Forest Administrator and Foresters, Weather Shield LITE Foundation, Wildlife Restoration Association, and Wisconsin Conservation Corps.
Thanks to all the individuals and businesses that support the Blue Hills Trail System year round. Please consider leaving your legacy of support by including the Blue Hills Trail Association Inc in your will.