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This page is dated, but I occasionally add to it. In fond memory of Molly.
Skijoring is a cross between dog sledding and cross country skiing. A dog pulls a
skier, who, depending on the terrain, either skis along or brakes. Any dog over 30 lbs can
skijor, but it may be hard to find a proper harness for a dog less than 40 lbs. Thick fur
and ice resistant pads are important, especially when bushwhacking. RuffWear makes a nice
set of paw covers for longer runs or dogs without snow-pads.
Skijoring is our dog's idea of paradise (though she's now
middle-aged, and prefers cruising to working).
I've created this web page to provide a resource for would be skijorers. Send me
information on places to skijor, and other information of skijoring interest, and I'll
post it here. Wherever you go, remember to keep your path clean.
On a marginally related note, I should like to make a plea for old-style cross country
skiing. This requires single track, machine-free, narrow trails that thread their way
through forest and hills. Equipment is simple, skis are relatively wide, waxing is
elementary, and clothing is eclectic. Snow shoes, dogs, and children are welcome -- they
help pack the deep powder. This is the skiing I fell in love with twenty years ago. I find
the mercilessly groomed double tracked (skate and classic) freeway sized trails of today
sterile and repulsive. (end of rant!)
These are ski areas that may allow dogs, that is, they may have packed trails
that aren't groomed (Sadly, the state of Minnesota is into maniacal grooming. Some sort of
cultural obsession with orderliness?). Check first. Directions not guaranteed. Alas, many
of these places require us to watch out for snowmobiles. Horse trails may be suited to
skijoring if they're horse-free. Hennepin county must be run by cat-people -- they are
really hostile to canines.
Remember, wherever you skijor, to watch out for others. Exercise common sense and be
polite. Most skijoring is done away from groomed trails, but backcountry skiers and
snowshoers may be afoot. Remember - dogs are our friends, but they are also, like humans,
serious predators. They deserve respect, and should be handled with care around people and
- Ungroomed hiking trails: We like these. Bushwhacking. Need warm boots, good gaiters,
wide skis, thick-furred dog. Forest Service trails are often good sources (state
and national forest).
- Sled dog trails
- Lakes and Streams: Try not to fall in.
- Snowmobile trails: Risky. Ski only during clear conditions and listen carefully. I
really don't like this option, and I doubt snowmobilers like it either.
- Regular groomed trails: Most will not allow dogs. Depending on conditions and dog
weight/paw ratio actual trail damage may range from negligible (less than average skier)
to significant. Good way to irritate some skiers.
Hennepin County (Minneapolis and area): Ungroomed
All the Hennepin
County Parks which allow skijoring (on snowmobile trails, risky!)
require a special use permit along with a parking permit. The special use permit is free
and can be gotten by calling the Hennepin Parks office. They limit your use of the trails
to daylight hours during the week and from dawn until 10 a.m. on the weekends. (Very
special thanks to Jerry Sivets.)
- Elm Creek Park
Reserve in Maple Grove?? 94 West from Twin Cities to HWY81, take 81 N several miles to
Elm Creek State Park in Maple Grove. Snowmobiles are allowed here, biking, horses, inline
skating in the summer.
- The Luce Line Trail is a former railroad bed that runs from Plymouth west to
near Hutchinson. There is a horse trail along side it that provides some relief from the
monotony of the flat rail bed. The first 7 miles of the Luce Line are not available to
snowmobiles but are used extensively by dog walkers and casual cross country skiers. The
next many ( 65 or so) miles west from Stubbs Bay Rd (located south off U.S. 12 just east
of Maple Plain) are open to snowmobiling but used much less by walkers and x-c skiers. I
[Jerry Sivets] use the Stubbs Bay area when I want to let my dog run very fast for 2 or 3
miles (there are some road crossings you neeed to stop for on this trail). I know there
are also sled dog mushers who use the Luce Line from Stubbs Bay west as well.
- Morris T. Baker Park near Maple Plain, located off Hamel Road which goes east
from county 19 just south of the town of Loretto. Access to the snowmobile trail on which
you skijor is at Spurzem Lake parking lot. The trail is pretty hilly (challenging) and
will give you and you dog(s) a very good workout.
- Crow-Hassan Park north of Corcoran. This can be reached by driving north on county 19
from Minn 55 and following the signs to the trailhead (a couple of left turns onto a
couple of roads I [Jerry Sivets] don't know the name of before you come to the trailhead).
Access to skijoring in this park, also done on the snowmobile trail, is from the cross
country ski trailhead parking lot. Terrain is moderate with only one small sharp drop and
- St Paul Parks Dept. grooms a short loop, on the 40 acre parcel of Como Park, for
George Hovland, a 1952 Olympian, runs the Snowflake Nordic Ski Center in Duluth. They
host skijoring races, allow skijoring on their trails (responsible skiers only!), and
allow well-mannered well-controlled skiers and their like-mannered dogs in the chalet (my
words, not his! :-).
Here's George's note and contact information:
I just wanted to let you know that we have had skijoring at Snowflake for the past 4
years. We have always loved skiing with our dog, so my wife and I decided we had to make
it easy for dog-lovers to enjoy one of life's great experiences. Our formal program
involves an open-to-all- comers skijoring race on Sunday afternoon (430) which is
sponsored by the Duluth Pack store.
We have had beagles to St. Bernards involved in this "fun race" (with
emphasis on fun). We are also happy to have skijorers on our trails at other times,
providing that dogs relieve themselves off of the groomed tracks and skiers are willing to
bag and carry any big do-do.
Snowflake was founded 7 years ago as Duluth's premiere cross-country ski area. We have
15 km of groomed trails -- 6 are lighted for night skiing.
Well mannered-well controlled dogs are welcome, even in our chalet (but not in the
saunas or showers!). If people would like information, feel free to contact me directly at
Former Olympian (1952)
- Porcupine Mountains near Silver City, MI.
- Boundary Country Trekking
Organizes yurt-to-yurt trips, has luxurious back woods lodge. Dogs can stay in the lodge
for a small fee. Skiing on ungroomed trails, snowmobile trails, or dog sled trails.
- North Arm Trails, Ely, Minnesota - Echo Trail
These trails are part of the Superior National Forest. They are not machine groomed, but
some grooming may occur. At least in summer there's no evidence of 'no dog' signage. Many
loops, with a wide variety of conditions. Trailhead near Burntside Lake, Co Road 644 off
the Echo Trail 17 miles from Ely. Across from the YMCA's "Camp du Nord". The
North Jonction trail is nearby -- smaller and easier.
- An anonymous message from Bemidji State (MN) suggests some areas near Bemidji (THANKS):
The Paul Bunyan Trail between Bemidji and Brainerd is a nice spot to skijor, especially
during the week when snomobile traffic is quiet (er). Also, the Heartland Trail near
Walker, Minnesota is popular. Another nice place I have skijored is near Miners Lake in
Ely, Minnesota. People there seem more receptive to dogs on the trail. Many places allow
skijoring on the north shore of Minnesota including the Grand Portage Ski Trails (now
quieter because of the Casino). The Lodge does not attract as many skiers anymore.
- The Gateway trail near Stillwater is skiable. Dogs are less unwelcome on the horse
trail. Take the trail north from Highway 36. You can also catch the trail at Highway 96.
- Willard Munger trail near Hinkley. The Hinkley Fire segment of the Willard Munger runs
37 miles between Hinckley and Barnum, about 80 miles north of the Twin Cities. Ski on the
- Crosby Manitou State
Park. Midway along 200 mile Superior Hiking trail. 57 miles north of Duluth on
Minnesota 61, take left of Lake County Road to trailhead. Skiing best north of Silver Lake
then east towards Lake Benson. Superior Hiking Trail Association sells McKenzie maps
- I wonder about Pine Point Park, five miles north of Stillwater. End of Gateway Trail.
It's off Highway 96 then north on Norrel Avenue. They're supposed to have horse trails.
- Crosby Farm Park in St. Paul (just south of where route 5 meets River Road) is fine for
skijoring. There are no warning signs, trails are basically ungroomed, and dogs are
everywhere. Unfortunately, they're also uncontrolled and off leash, but they're usually
more friendly than our anti-social beast. This is a flat route, but the trails are pretty
and have great views of the river. Best trails are unofficial single track that go far
back in the woods.
Ok, so you're really dedicated. Alaska, of course, has it all over the rest of
us for skijoring. Anchorage has 50K of "multi-use" ski trails for skiers,
hikers, bikers, skijoring, etc. See NASSPA for more
- Mountain Recreation (970) 871-1495
Dana Morton writes: "I run a Nordic ski rental, retail, lesson shop and cafe in
Clark, CO. We have some of the most incredible groomed and off-trail skiing in the
country. Clark is 26 miles northwest of Steamboat Colorado. We are a rural ranching
community on the cusp of big time development. Dogs are welcome on our groomed trails in
the neighboring state park. I'm best reached by email at email@example.com"
- Chinookwind Outfitters-Working Dog Equipment
Supplies: Agility, dogsledding, obedience, skijoring, and more!
Lorrie McAllister writes: " We are fortunate to have fewer groomed trails than it
sounds like you have in MN. More recently, the nordic centers in CO are allowing more
dogs, and are opening more trails to skijorers as well ...We have a business catering to
skijorers and dog sledding (recreational and competitive) ...We attend races and clinics
in Colorado (we help teach a monthly skijoring clinic at Devil's Thumb Resort in
Tabernash, CO) and have a complete on-line store for working/active dogs.
Need a dog harness (standard sled dog training harness), lead, and a belt for skier.
Since I first put this page up in the late 90s, global warming has wreaked havoc on
skiing and skijoring in the sub-Canadian US. Perhaps not coincidentally, human ingenuity
has also produced dog scootering
and the dog powered scooter. A cautionary
nag -- beware of overheating. Dogs can die quite easily of heat stroke; scootering may be
a fall/spring activity for most dogs. (Personally I like inline skating with my dog, but
scootering can be done off-road.)
Meanwhile, in Minnesota's new age cool but snowless winters, there's still ice around.
A dog can pull a skier across ice, but skis on ice are a bit of a drag. It may be more fun
to have your dog pull a "kick-sled". I think most dogs would also need booties
to protect their feet and might not want to run on ice; consult references on dog sledding
for advice. Here are a few places to start if you'd like to invest in a kick-sled (many
thanks to David Dermoff for his usenet posting -- Google failed me in kick-sled searches!:
- All about kicksledding
(extensive! set of links and references)
- Kepopas: A Kick-Sledding Primer
- Sawtoothsleds builds kicksleds for use with
dogs. Roger Haertel also mentions that North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN also
has a class to build your own Kicksled that he helps with.
- www.mountainboysleds.com is a US
manufacturer (Colorado) -- about $500 for one of their handcrafted sleds
- Rapp and Tarzan are the names of spark models made by NorÝ Ind. in Tynset, Norway. Some
North American importers:
- ESLA (E.S.Lahtinen Oy) is a Finnish
or kick-sleds used when ice skating: a usenet (google groups) thread. David Dermoff
adds: "Vansbro Spark (Sweden) makes a model with foldable runners, so one could
detach the rear part of the runners. Or you just cut a long runner off. Or get a
blacksmith to make a short set of runners."
(See also the domain specific links above)
- McGrath, Chad. Dogs + XC Skis = Skijoring. Silent Sports. February, 1996. Waupaca
- Mari Hoe-Raitto and Carol Kaynor. Skijor with Your Dog. OK Publishing. Fairbanks,
- 2006: a bit of link clean-up fo kick-sleds, one addition, several deletions. Global
climate change is taking its toll on anything related to snow sports. Added more on dog
- 2003: more on kick-sledding (spark) and some link fixes. When I first did this page in
1995 it was one of very few in the world. Now a quick Google search finds many, many
pages. Fascinating! (This page has slipped way down the Google rankings -- it's time has
passed, but it's not hard for me to keep it up on occasion.)
- 2002: minor updates, added link to a Colorado resort, fixed up old links. The links were
all broken, but the pages were still around -- they'd merely relocated to better places.
- 1997: John R. Harris was a contributor to early versions of
- @ 1995: first version
Author: John G. Faughnan.
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