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Outdoors, Leisure, and Sports

Minocqua Winter Park starts building mountain biking trails

trail building.jfif
Katie Thoresen
Travis Bellman uses an excavator to create a new trail at the Zip Trail System in Minocqua last summer. Bellman will also be doing the work on the Minocqua Winter Park trails this summer.

For a long time, Minocqua Winter Park has been just that, a park to enjoy during the winter months.

With miles of cross-country ski and snowshoeing trails, sledding hills, and an ice rink, Winter Park is a well-established destination for people looking to get outside while there’s snow on the ground.

But in recent years, the park has been working to expand to the summer months as well.

The last few summers it’s been open to events and the trails were opened to hikers.

Now, the park has starting building mountain bike trails.

“Mountain biking is growing exponentially across the country right now. It’s something we’ve seen exploding in the Northwoods. It’s something the park has talked about in the past and with our current leadership team and some money that we got we decided now was the time to pull the trigger,” said General Manager Mark Stuber.

Last year, the park hired the International Mountain Biking Association [IMBA] to create a trails plan.

The comprehensive document lays out the potential for mountain biking trails within the park.

It could be 30-plus miles of trails ranging from easy to expert and comprised of eight different zones.

Though the big picture is a long way off as it will take fundraising and agreement among landowners to make it happen.

But Stuber is hopeful.

He believes will draw people in year-round and not just to Minocqua Winter Park.

Over the last several years, volunteer groups in the Lakeland area have been building up mountain bike trails.

Stuber says more people have been seeking out the trails in the area, but typically it’s a day stop on a trip to bigger mountain biking destinations.

“What we want to do, is we want to become a destination. We want people to come here for mountain biking or take their mountain biking tour that’s going to Duluth or the U.P. and instead of just having a day trip here, stay a night or two,” said Stuber.

According to IMBA, the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association around Cable boasts 130 miles of mountain biking trails, brings in 38,000 annual users, and claims $8 million in economic impact to the area.

Stuber hopes that between the Lakeland Area Mountain Biking Organization, WinMail Trails, and now Winter Park, the Lakeland area could one day generate that kind of interest.

The first trail segment at Squirrel Hill is under construction now.

Stuber hopes it will be finished in time for a few rides in the fall.

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