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Category Archives: Miljes Ski Trails

I was rummaging through a drawer the other day and ran across a little packet of materials from the United States Ski Association. Back in the 1970’s the USSA and Kodak established a physical fitness program called Medals for Miles. The essence of the program was that you would record your miles skied, during the winter,  in a logbook and then at the end of the ski season submit the logbook to the USSA and receive an award. The award was a piece of paper and a pin or a patch.

Swedetown Ski Trails

Swedetown Ski Trails

 If you listen to the news these days it seems the only motivating factor in life is greed. I happened to be one of those folks that was always motivated by the challenge whether it be at work or sports. The thought of getting a pin or patch for skiing 150 -1000 miles really excited me.

Miljes Ski Trails

Miljes Ski Trails

 According to Kodak there were about a million cross country skiers in the 1970’s. Unfortunately there were not a lot of established ski trails, at least in our area. I happened to live on a farm so I created my own trail that ran for .7 of a mile out through the fields. Just about every night when I came home I would strap on the skis and ski around my little trail. It was usually dark by the time I made it home from work so I had to use a head lamp. In those days it was connected to a heavy 6 volt battery. I would try and ski about 10 miles every evening. The neighbors probably thought I was nuts.

Swedetown Ski Trails

Swedetown Ski Trails

 On weekends I would ski across fields, on golf courses, snowmobile trails and a few formal trails such as Telemark near Cable, Wisconsin. On each trip I tried to keep track of the miles I skied. It looks like I participated in this activity for about six years. I have several pins for 150 miles, one for 300 and another for 500 miles. There is also a patch for 750 miles and one for 1,000 miles.

Swedetown Ski Trails

Swedetown Ski Trails

 The number of miles skied was dependent upon the winter and the amount of snow we received. About the only year that I remember was the year I skied a 1,000 miles. We had an early snowfall and it stayed most of the winter. That was the year that my girlfriend (later my wife) and I went on an all day ski trip when it was 20 degrees below zero. All I could think of during the day was getting back to Hayward, Wisconsin and having a milk shake. My girlfriend later admitted that she couldn’t feel her feet half way through the day. By mid-march I was near the 1,000 mile mark but most of the snow was gone on the farm. I still had about 20 miles to go. My girlfriend and I drove up to Telemark for one last attempt to complete the 1000 miles. It was really a miserable day. It was warm and I was down to using Klister in order to ski. By the end of the day I was exhausted but had the necessary miles.

Frost - Red Cedar State Trail

Frost – Red Cedar State Trail

 When I mentioned, to my wife, that I had found the metals she reminded me that I had convinced her to participate in the program as well.

ABR Ski Trails

ABR Ski Trails

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Like lots of other skiers and snowmobilers we headed up to the U.P. over the three day weekend. The U.P. is one of the few places with good snow cover this year. Even though their snow totals are down they have enough snow to groom the trails. Midweek they were dumped with another foot of snow.

Miljes Ski Trails

On Sunday we drove up to the Ironwood area. Neither my wife or I have done any skiing this year because of a lack of snow. In addition, I caught a bad cold at Christmas time have haven’t been able to get out much. This was my first outing in a couple of weeks. We decided that we would drive over to the Miljes Ski Trails just outside Wakefield, Michigan. We skied them last year and since they are not particularly difficult or long we felt it would give us a chance to ski for a couple of hours and get out ski legs back. It would also allow us to get back to the motel to watch the disaster at Lambeau Field. We were also interested in seeing if they had made any changes since last year’s visit.

Snow Fort

Last year we had problems finding the place. The clerk at the local gas station never heard of it and we finally asked at the local state patrol office. This year there was a big sign posted at the intersection of highway 2 and 28 indicating the direction and mileage.

Old Warming Hut

New Warming Hut

The trails have a new warming hut.  There are rooms to change and several couches and comfortable chairs in the hut. It includes a table and chairs as well as a kitchen. There is a stove with firewood which you can use. This is a shot of the old and new warming. Big improvement.

Last year there were some discrepancies between the description, distance and costs on Skinny Ski and what we actually found. This year the information was correct and Skinny Ski had an accurate map posted. Unfortunately we didn’t make a copy of it and there weren’t any spares in the warming hut.

The trails are gentle classic through a mix of hardwood forests and cedar swamps. This is a family run ski area and apparently the family has a Serbian and Finnish heritage. The fact that is a classic only ski area makes it a good place to go if you don’t want to encounter lots of skaters flying by. It also makes it a good place to take the kids if they are just learning to ski. It is gently rolling terrain and there is only one hill that would be considered challenging and local skiers have made a track around the hill.

Facilities

It looked like the trails had been freshly groomed and it was a beautiful sunny day with the temperature a little warm for my taste but since it was our first outing and we were just out to enjoy ourselves it worked out well. There were quite a few other skiers out on the trail. Many of them were locals that use the trail for their daily exercise. We kept meeting the same folks on the trail. One fellow said he skis about 12 miles every day on the trail and frequently sees fox and bobcats. A couple of times were weren’t sure where the trail went he pointed us in the right direction. It’s not that there are all that many trails but in a couple of places 4 or 5 trails intersect and without a map we were not sure where to go. This is the one criticism from last year that hasn’t been fixed. They do need to put a small map up at the major intersections for those folks that are visiting for the first time.

We had a nice time and met some great people on our visit.

More photos from Miljes can be found on my website.

Nuznik

This past weekend we took a skiing road trip to the U.P. of Michigan. Our goal was to ski Keweenaw Mountain Lodge Ski Trails and the Swedetown Ski Trails. On the way up to Calumet we stopped at the Miljes Ski Trails to get some quick exercise. The first problem was finding the trails. They are located about a mile south of Wakefield on highway 519. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any markings for highway 519. After asking at a local gas station (they weren’t sure) we stopped at the state patrol office a found out the location. At the intersection of highway 2  and 28  (the only stoplight in town) drive south through the downtown and continue for about a mile (you finally see a sign for 519 after leaving town). You will see a large sign for the trails on your right.

Old Warming Hut

The trails have a new warming hut. A sign in the hut indicates that it is under construction and will be finished this year. There are rooms to change and several couches and comfortable chairs in the hut. It includes a table and chairs as well as a kitchen. There is a stove with firewood which you can use. This is a shot of the old warming hut which was formerly a herders cabin.

The blurb on skinny ski indicates there are 14 km of trails. The trail map on skinny ski indicates 9.2 km and the map on the warming hut indicates 6 km of trails. I believe the map in the hut and we were a little disappointed to find the trails were not as extensive as we were led to believe.

Skinny ski indicates there is a $10 dollar trail fee. When we finally found the donation box (it was about 100 feet down the trail) it said $7.00. Fortunately one of us had kept our money out so we could pay the fee.

Miljes Ski Trails

The trails are gentle classic through a mix of hardwood forests and cedar swamps. This is a family run ski area and apparently the family has a Serbian and Finnish heritage. Many of the signs along the trail are in these languages. There were some local touches with a small Christmas tree decorated and later we found a tree decorated for valentine’s day.

Valentine Tree

The biggest problem was fact that the map on the internet did not match the trail system. The trail off to the northwest was as marked on the map and easy to follow. However the trails off to the southwest did not correspond to the map. My wife had picked up a map from the hut and it wasn’t until we became lost that we realized they were two entirely different maps. The southwest trails had been converted to a series of small loops. Unfortunately none of the trails were marked so when you came to 5 intersecting trails you had no idea which way to go. Since the trail system is so small you can’t get lost but the trails are in serious need of some trail markings and some maps posted along the way. I noticed in the log book that a number of people have commented on this.

This is probably not a place I would ski again, mainly because there are not enough trails and it is a bit pricy. The experience would be improved by developing a few more trails and marking the trails better. It is a bit off the beaten path and would likely be a fun place to spend skiing with the family. A morning ski followed by a visit to the warming hut and an afternoon ski would be enjoyable.

An updated report from 2012 is available on my Blog.