Making tracks up, down, over, and around the Twin Cities
(page 1 of 4)
Think you have to head west to get your skiing fix? Think again. Not only do you not have to travel across the country to slalom the slopes or skate the trails, you don’t even have to drive far from the Twin Cities. Some 100 cross-country ski-trail systems lie within an hour’s drive of Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as a handful of well-groomed, well-managed hills for downhill enthusiasts.
Afton Alps, carved out of the bluffs sloping down to the St. Croix River, rates as the largest downhill-ski run within an hour of the Twin Cities. The park covers 300 acres and includes 48 trails, a 350-foot vertical drop, and an impressively long run of 3,000 feet. The slopes are accessible for all levels of skiers, with the majority of them clocking in at beginner or intermediate ratings. Snowboarders and tubers are also welcome, as are first-timers (lessons are available) and racers.
Address: 6600 Peller Ave. S., Hastings
Welch Village Ski and Snowboard Area
Spread across a steep bluff overlooking the Cannon River valley, Welch Village may be the best hill available to Twin Cities skiers, short of driving to Giants Ridge or the North Shore. There are 60 trails spanning 140 acres, and the longest run measures 1,300 feet. The park has a nice variety for both beginners and experts, and consistently gets high marks for its well-groomed trails. Snowboarders are welcome, and the Village regularly holds races and offers lessons and family specials.
Address: 26685 County Rd. 7 Blvd., Welch
Buck Hill is a tiny slope—just 50 acres with 15 trails—jammed up against a busy freeway, but two things position it as one of the area’s most popular hills: a convenient location and an aggressive racing program that has produced such skiers as World Cup and Olympic champions Kristina Koznick and Lindsey Vonn. The park has a 310-foot vertical and its longest run measures just over 1,000 feet. Snowboarders and tubers are welcome, and lessons are available.
Address: 15400 Buck Hill Rd., Burnsville