National Winter Trails Day event Saturday

RAPID RIIVER — It’s time to get outside and enjoy some winter fun activity at the eighth annual National Winter Trails Day event at Rapid River National Ski Trail on Saturday from noon until 4 p.m. While many have been enjoying the balmy winter and minimal snowfalls, event planners are anxious for some typical U.P. winter weather so folks can get out to enjoy winter’s outdoor delights.

You can bring your own equipment if you have it and get some pointers from experienced skiers, or use the opportunity to learn more about stride techniques. You don’t have your own equipment to participate. Thanks to a partnership between the Hiawatha National Forest, Brampton Bike and Ski and numerous ski trail volunteers, cross country skis, boots and poles as well as snowshoes will be available free of charge for the public (adults and children) to use from noon until 4 p.m. at the event.

Mike Williams of Brampton Bike and Ski will provide the equipment. Volunteers who groom the ski trail will be on hand to assist participants with proper fitting gear and to teach the fundamentals of both skiing and snowshoeing. In order to ensure that adequate equipment and instructors are on hand, those attending are asked to pre-register for the event by calling Brampton Bike and Ski, Monday through Friday, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 906-428-2135.

Mary Malnor of Entrees Etc. is providing participants with complimentary hot drinks and soup, and there will be a roaring bonfire to make s’mores.

Past events have drawn over 100 people. When you register, you will be given a specific time to be there so that there is no waiting in lines; your equipment will be waiting for you.

Nick Moreno, Kids in the Woods coordinator and Hiawatha National Forest volunteer, will have a discovery table of animal furs and tracks to teach you about local wildlife. He will help you learn to identify animal tracks in the snow. Visit him at the event from 12 to 2 p.m.

“Bring your children for a free day of snowshoeing or cross country skiing. Gathering at the Rapid River Ski Trail with a winter wonderland, steaming soup and cider, a bonfire, and furs is a magical experience,” said Brenda Rebitzke, Forest Service supervisory recreation specialist on the Hiawatha National Forest.

Not only are skiing and snowshoeing great ways to get outdoors, but they are healthy activities as well. Cross country skiing burns more calories per hour than any other sport, offers a low-risk, low-impact form of exercise, and is advocated by medical professionals as an excellent cardiovascular fitness activity. It also uses natural movements, resulting in a very short learning curve.

The same holds true for snowshoeing — the old adage is, if you can walk, you can snowshoe. Snowshoeing burns 45 percent more calories than walking or running at the same speed.

The Rapid River National Cross Country Ski Trail is located six miles north of Rapid River on US 41 and includes five classic loops ranging from 1.2 to 10 miles in length, two skating loops of 4.7 and 7.4 miles, and a 1.3 mile snowshoe trail. The trail system is groomed entirely by volunteers.

According to Rebitzke, “Volunteer groomers are appreciated and always needed. If you are interested in helping to take care of this trail system, contact the Hiawatha National Forest, and speak to Brenda Madden, Forestry Recreation Technician.”

If there are any questions about this year’s National Winter Trails Day event, call the Hiawatha National Forest at 906-474-6442 or Brampton Bike and Ski at 906-428-2135.