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Winter fun comes to a halt in the Northwoods

WinMan Trails

Last weekend, snow lovers were celebrating the fresh foot of snow that blanketed the woods.

Now, grass is once again showing after a day of high winds, 50-degree temperatures, and new rainfall.

“The phrase I’m now using is Mother Nature giveth, Mother Nature taketh away,” said Issac Cowart.

Cowart had such high hopes for the beginning of the season at WinMan Trails in Vilas County.

“Conditions were really as good as you would expect any part of the season. We had really good turn out all weekend. All the skiers, all the fat bikers were reporting great conditions. We were really pleased with how the season started,” he said.

Now, the Director of Operations has been forced to close all the trails.

The warm temperatures, wind, and rain fall melted away the 12-inch base on the trails.

Cowart says there’s bare ground throughout the trails, and where there isn’t there’s sheets of ice instead.

“It’s just incredible what 12 hours can do to what probably amounted to 40, 50, 60 hours of work up to this point. It’s just kind of a brutal existence that can exist when you’re managing trails,” he said.

It’s a similar story across the Northwoods.

Iron County was able to open its snowmobile and winter ATV/UTV trails for three days. The Forestry and Parks Department closed them Thursday. They’ll stay that way until the county gets some significant snowfall.

The Vilas County Parks and Recreation Department announced that snowmobile trails will remain closed for now.

Many of the silent sport groups that groom and manage trails are asking people to stay off them even if there’s still snow.

It’s so soft that any divots made by skiers, snowshoers, or bikers could damage the base.

There’s also a matter of trees and debris down on trails.

As for when winter will return, that’s hard to say.

Below freezing temperatures for the next week should help firm trails up, but the National Weather Service extended forecast shows only a slight chance for some snow showers this weekend.

Cowart says it’ll take more than that to get all the trails back.

He says fat biking and snowshoe trails could open in the next couple of days when things firm up.

“For the ski trails we really need to establish the base again. It’s starting the whole season over. We’ll need six plus inches of snow that we’ll need to be able to compact and set our base again. So until we get that, they will be closed and we’re just waiting,” said Cowart.

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