Cross Country Skiing in Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Lake Elmo, Washington County • Park pass and Minnesota Ski Pass required

skiing lake elmo
The Eagle Point Lake Trail at Lake Elmo Park Reserve—a super ski trail!

My daughter and I took a cross country ski field trip to Lake Elmo Park Reserve this week.

It was a fabulous winter day—the kind we look forward to all year. We’d had about 5 inches of fresh snow last weekend. Blue Sky. Just a slight breeze. 10-15 degrees. The sun was shining and the snow was sparkling.

The trails had been groomed two days before and were in lovely shape.

This park is quite far from our neck of the woods, so we’d only been there once before. Our ski made us want to change that! It was definitely worth the 35-mile drive.

Eagle Point Lake Trail

We chose the Eagle Point Lake Trail for two reasons:

  • Its length: 6 kilometers (almost 4 miles). It took us about 70 minutes, which included several stops for pictures.
  • No scary hills!

It didn’t disappoint us at all!

lake elmo winter map
The Eagle Point Lake Trail is the one in red here on the map.

A Great Mix of Woods, Lake and Prairie

This trail has so many things going for it. Of course it helped that, as I said, the weather and snow conditions were just about perfect. But beyond that…

The trail is a great mix of woods and prairie with continual views of the frozen lake. Most of it is over gently rolling hills. Nothing crazy, nothing scary! And especially no steep, long downhills with a sharp curve at the bottom 🙂

One note: Only small portions of this trail are sheltered among the trees. Today was fine, since the wind was only about 5 mph. But on windy days you’ll want windproof gear for sure.

wooded lane
Skiing through a wooded lane.

The varied scenery and terrain is beautiful. There’s just one stretch of flat and straight. The rest is up and down, twisting around, through trees or alongside the open prairie.

(Jamie said she really wants to come back in the summer to hike this trail.)

Some Wildlife Showed Themselves

One large rabbit jumped under a fallen tree as soon as we came near (I just saw him out of the corner of my eye during one of our frequent picture stops).

The deer were much bolder. We stopped when Jamie spotted one on the other side of a meadow. She (the deer) stood motionless for several minutes, just watching us. We realized there were two others with her, and they were completely unconcerned. None of them bothered moving while we skied away!

deer at lake elmo
Whitetail deer are common in the Reserve. You can see one here…and there are two more hidden in the trees on the left.

(We were just over at Bunker Park in Anoka County snowshoeing last week. The five deer we saw there wanted nothing to do with us!)

Grandfather Trees

I LOVE big old trees. On the west side of the lake are a couple giant cottonwoods. I don’t know how long they’ve been here, but a couple hundred years, I’m guessing. The Park Service folks probably know.

cottonwood
Jamie stretches around one big cottonwood!

We highly recommend cross country skiing the Eagle Point Lake Trail. It’s a beautful trail with a lot of variety of scenery and terrain. It’s fine for even novice skiers as long as you’re in good enough shape to handle the distance.

The Park Office is open daily through the winter. You can buy your park pass and ski pass there if you don’t already have one.

Lake Elmo has some lighted trails for evening skiing, too. Have you skied those?

Let us know what they’re like, either in the comments below or by email: sharon@twincitiesoutdoors.com.

Click here for more skiing options in Washington County

(Post by Sharon Brodin)

Sharon Brodin
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