BEST PLACE TO CROSS-COUNTRY SKI - 2003
Baker Park Reserve
2301 Cty Road 19
Maple Plain, MN 55359
Talk about a tough category: No state in the nation offers a more diverse array of cross-country ski options than Minnesota. If you want to make a vacation out of it, the trails around Pincushion Mountain up on the Gunflint Trail offer stunning views of Lake Superior, and we won't soon forget the beauty of Gooseberry Falls (just northeast of Two Harbors) when we skied their track during the season's last blizzard. For a local choice befitting experts and novices alike, though, Baker Park Reserve in the southwest metro gets the nod. Over seven miles of trails lead through prairie wetlands and oak savannas. First-timers can rent equipment in the chalet on the grounds (which also offers sit-skis and poles for those with disabilities) and get their feet wet (frozen) circling the flat Fairway Trail. More experienced, intrepid skiers will test their mettle on the challenging Timber Trail track. Another benefit of Baker is its superior groomers, who ensure first-rate ski conditions even when the snow cover is light. Bring some change so the kids can have hot chocolate back at the chalet.