by Adam Gruenewald
With freshly fallen snow finally hitting the area on Monday afternoon and more in the forecast anticipated, winter drivers were surely a bit concerned.
The snow is certainly welcome for winter enthusiasts though, including the Baylor Park staff as they are prepared to offer a variety of options for winter enjoyment.
Anticipating the winter snow and upcoming candlelit ski events, Baylor Park staff were encouraged to share the benefits of the 3.5-miles of ski trails, extensive off-trail snowshoe trails and ski rentals available at the park.
While there were thoughts of closing the trails due to icy conditions, the trails remain open for both styles of cross country skiing, skate and classic, according to Carver County Parks and Trails Supervisor Sam Pertz.
“We would never close our trails to the public,” said Pertz. “But we considered it with the bends and hills covered with ice.”
Typically with regular conditions, the whole trail system is typically groomed Mondays and Fridays, along with other days as needed. The process involves multiple passes, one of which creates the combed blanket and another creates the grooved track.
Thus far the trails have only been groomed three times this season and rentals have been limited, according to Pertz.
“The first couple of snowfalls we started making our base,” said Pertz. “For a hot second, our trails were in great condition and then winter rain really hurt us.”
With regards to snowshoeing, Pertz said snowshoe rental inventory has increased and Baylor Park and other Carver County parks certainly attract the enthusiasts.
“What attracts some of our snowshoers is we don’t have an ordinance that says they have to stay on trail,” he said. “If people like to get out and explore with backcountry snowshoeing.”
A variety of full size and child size skis and boots are available at Baylor Park.
“We just made a new order here to add some and replace some of our equipment that needed to come out of the rotation,” said Pertz. “We are plenty well-equipped to take all sizes of people.”
Carver County Parks Recreation and Volunteer Specialist Jessica Fenn added that a partnership with CXC Skiing with the Nordic Ski Association has made a set of youth learning skis available as well. Those skis work well with school groups, as Glencoe students were expected to head out to the park this past week.
“We’ll use them our events so you don’t have to worry about putting the boots on,” said Fenn. “It’s like a snowshoe binding, just crank it down and you’re ready to rock and roll.”
Rental hours for the park’s classic books and waxless skis are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Ski rentals will also be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both Martin Luther King Day on Monday, Jan. 16 and Presidents Day on Monday, Feb. 20.
Looking ahead, Baylor Park will host candlelit ski and dog sled events at Baylor Regional Park on Saturday, Jan. 21 and Saturday, Feb. 11 from 6 to 9 p.m. Baylor Park will also host the annual maple syrup demonstration open house on Saturday, March 18.
“They are around the corner,” said Fenn, adding dog-sledders are encouraged to register right away at 5:30 p.m. “We want to make sure people have plenty of time and don’t have to wait out in the cold.”
Visitors are also reminded that the annual and daily permits for Carver County Parks also apply to the Waconia sledding hill, which also has been closed because of ice.
For more information on trail conditions and rental status changes, call the winter hotline at 952-466-5237 or visit www.co.carver.mn.us/parks.
Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.