In a trial run, temporary cross-country ski trails will be created this month on Lake Minnetonka’s Big Island.
The Orono City Council last week approved the ski trails, which also won the unanimous recommendation of the city’s Park Commission. They will be groomed by Rick Carter, race director for the upcoming Big Island and Back race, and won’t cost the city anything this year.
“I love it,” Council Member Victoria Seals said at the meeting. “I can’t think of many things that happen on Big Island, especially in the winter in a positive way.”
While the island is a popular destination for boaters in the summer, it doesn’t draw many visitors in the winter. Having more skiers on the island could discourage others from going there to do “bad things,” city leaders said.
Carter, who lives in Orono, presented the idea to the city because he will be grooming ski trails for the annual ski and snowshoe race scheduled to take place on the lake Jan. 28.
While the race itself goes around Big Island, Carter said the island’s existing trails, about 2 kilometers long, could be groomed for skiers to use.
Carter said he frequently skis on the island and wants to share his secret ski spot with other metro area skiers and fat tire bicyclists. If it’s successful, he said, the city could maintain the trails next year.
Orono in 2006 bought about 50 acres on the island, about a third of its land mass, and turned it into a wooded nature park.
The Big Island and Back race, which benefits the ICA Food Shelf and Freshwater Society, also sponsors a summer competition with canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. For more information, go to bigislandandback.com.