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Skijoring: XC Skiing with a Privileged Dog

  • Introduction
  • Places to go and Outfitters
  • General
  • Hennepin County
  • Ramsey County
  • Duluth: Snowflake Nordic Ski Center
  • Minnesota and Regional
  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Outfitters
  • Equipment Sources
  • Dog Scootering and Kick-Sledding
  • Links
  • History
  • 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!)

    Places to go and Outfitters

    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 other dogs.


    Hennepin County (Minneapolis and area): Ungroomed Trails

    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.)

    Ramsey County

    Duluth: Snowflake Nordic Ski Center

    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 218/726-1550.

    George Hovland
    Former Olympian (1952)

    Minnesota and Regional: Ungroomed Ski Trails

    Minnesota Outfitters


    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 information.


    Equipment Sources

    Need a dog harness (standard sled dog training harness), lead, and a belt for skier.

    Dog Scootering and Kick-Sledding (Kicksled)

    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!:

    Links and References

    (See also the domain specific links above)




    Author: John G. Faughnan.  The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. Pages are updated on an irregular schedule; suggestions/fixes are welcome but they may take weeks to months to be incorporated. I reserve copyright except where noted, if you want to repost or quote a page just ask. Anyone may freely link to anything on this site and print any page; no permission is needed for linking,  printing, or distributing printed copies.