BEST PLACE TO CROSS-COUNTRY SKI Minneapolis 2002 - Wild River State Park
Stretching 18 miles along the upper reaches of the St. Croix River, Wild River State Park boasts plenty of splendid, unsullied vistas, a pleasing mix of aspen, pine, maple, and oak forests, and tons of wildlife: ospreys, eagles, black bears, even the occasional timber wolf. Not surprisingly, Wild River offers some of the best cross-country skiing anywhere within convenient driving distance of the Twin Cities (on an average travel day, the drive to Wild River takes a little more than an hour). In all, there are some 35 miles of groomed trails; some challenging, others easy. Beginners may want to start by trying the Mitigwaki Loop, where they can pass through a rare oak savanna that has been restored to its undergrowth-less glory by the use of planned burns. Or they might want to check out the celebrated River Trail, where skiers can catch a glimpse of wintering trumpeter swans in the open waters of the St. Croix. (The St. Croix, by the way, is the biggest, but not the only, waterway in the park; ten other streams and creeks lie within its boundaries.) To get there, take I-35 north, head east on State Highway 95, and turn north on County Road 12. The park entrance is about three miles ahead.