Beat the Cold....When We Have Snow

Written by Chad Thomack
    Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Beat the Cold....When We Have Snow

Ah yes, nothing like the crispness of a cold winter day! The fresh cold air in my lungs wakes up the mind and body. Silently I ski across a bluff over looking Lake Michigan in the glow of a winter moon as my dog runs next to me. I pause for a moment to take in complete silence; I feel as though I am in the deep woods of northern Wisconsin but am only a few miles from downtown Milwaukee.

Cross country skiing has been a passion of mine ever since teaching at Trees for Tomorrow in Eagle River. It has been a way for me to take in the beauty of winter yet not be beaten by the cold. When you are actively skiing, being cold is not an issue. In fact, the real issue is getting too warm and sweating. For this reason it is important to dress in layers. I like to cover my body with a material that wicks away moisture, then an insulating layer and finally a wind-breaking layer. I dress this way knowing I will have to take off layers as I ski. Once you realize what you need, you can start with more or less. For more tips on dressing in layers see our nature prescription video about about it. Cross country skiing is also a low impact sport that can be done long into golden years.

Ever wanted to try cross country skiing? Join one of our introductory programs or become a member and borrow some from any of our 3 locations. Once you have your skis in hand, check out some of my favorite places to ski.  

Washington Park

Great for beginners who want to hone their skills, but also has some nice hills for practicing your slalom. There are no groomed trails but the skis on site are great because you don’t have travel outside of the city.

Riverside-building-snow-webRiverside Park

Great trails along the east side of the Milwaukee River from the North Ave. Pedestrian bridge up to Hubbard Park. North of Hubbard and Westside trails are challenging with many up and downhill sequences on a narrow trails. Keep and eye out for fallen trees and heavy trail use.  

Menomonee Valley:

Starting next ski season you will be able to leave from this branch and ski to Mitchell Park in the new park being constructed this year.  There will be hills to climb and ski back down. You can also try skiing along the Hank Aaron State trail. 

Brown Deer Park:

Has groomed trails and is a great place to learn how to ski. This park can become very busy when conditions are ripe. Also has a great sledding hill and warming shelter.  

Whitnall Park:

Lightly groomed trails on a golf course. These trails are great for beginners as there are not many steep hills. Warming shelter and concessions available. 

The Oak Leaf Trail on a snowy dayMilwaukee Country Parks:

Many of our Milwaukee Country parks are great for skiing. Most are wide open without many obstructions but do not have groomed trails so in deep snow it can be a tiring (but rewarding) experience. 

Havenwoods State Park:

Mostly flat trails that are not groomed. Trails are not heavily used so they're great for skiing.  

Kohler-Andrae State Park:

Has groomed trails when snow conditions are right (6 inches or more of snow.) Fairly flat trails with small hills. Located along the Lake Michigan shoreline. These trails are some of my favorite. 

Lapham Peak:

Nestled in the heart of the Kettle Moraine state forest these trails are some of the best groomed trails in SE Wisconsin (in my opinion.) There are several different classes of trails from beginner to advance. They also have a trail system where snow can be made when mother nature does not give us enough snow. Not only do they make their own snow but also have a lit trail for evening skiing.

Each location has unique ecosystems to explore. It is important to make sure to check on conditions before making the trek. For more information on trails in SE Wisconsin, check out this website.  For snow conditions through out Wisconsin check here

Now we just have to do something about these Wisconsin winters...

Chad Thomack

Chad Thomack

Chad Thomack, Environmental Educator, has been a staff member of the Urban Ecology Center for over 15 years.  Chad received a biology/wildlife degree from UW Stevens Point and has been teaching about nature ever since.  His hobbies include outdoor adventures like kayaking, mountain biking, trail running and cross country skiing, as well as exercising, reading, playing video games, journaling and gardening.


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