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Blacks Grove Park welcomes skiers, snow shoers alike

Michael Johnson

The sound of skis on snow in Wadena’s Black’s Grove Park is common place, even though temperatures have been well below normal for much of December.

But the steady sound of snowshoes crunching away can also be heard in the mix of mature standing trees. These two winter sports can now, hopefully, coexist thanks to some new snow shoe trails added to the park this year.

Avid skier and volunteer at the park, Terry Olson, said in the past, snowshoers or walkers walking on the ski trails have caused some distress for the skiers who like to stay on track. A collapsed track means beginner skiers easily lose balance. And for the mature skiers like Olson (a 27-year skier at the park), a cave in means they can’t go full speed ahead.

“We like to go fast,” Olson said. “When the skiers are going, they would like to go and just stay in the track.”

The new snow shoe trails are clearly marked and signed right as you walk from the parking lot. They, like the ski trails, provide great views of the woods and the entire winter splendor.

Volunteers of the park help to make sure the trails stay clear all year round so folks can walk without getting a branch to the face. Now they’ve added to the trail system so more winter enthusiasts can spend more time on the trail and still have peace on earth.

Current conditions

With measureable snowfall coming in early December, the park has been seeing some eager skiers who prefer working up a sweat in the frigid air over their basement-bound tread mill of home.

Jerry Anderson, the park trail groomer, has been out grooming as needed. He finished the first full grooming last week. The 8-miles of trails take him about an hour to complete with groomer in tow behind his snowmobile.

“I never get over 10 to 15 miles per hour,” Anderson said.

Anderson has served as groomer for about eight or nine years, he said. He lives near the park, so it’s easy enough to work at the site. It’s also easy to fall in love with the wooded area that he enjoys skiing several days a week, as long as it’s above zero.

“There are certainly some nice trails,” Anderson explained.

Olson agrees that Black’s Grove Park is a rare gem in the state. Good grooming makes it an enjoyable experience for the beginner or expert. Olson enjoys the trails almost daily when the weather is right.

“My daughter said to me ‘Dad you don’t know how good you have it’”, Olson said. “I said, ‘Yes I do!’”

The trails are mostly level, with a few short hills. If you ski the trails you’ll spend much of the time weaving through the woods and some time on the edge of the prairie.

“The thing about Black’s Grove,” Olson said. “Even if there is a stiff wind it’s pretty protected because of the thick cover.”

Olson said this is one of the earliest starts to the skiing season thanks to the load of snow dropped on the area. The lower temperature has also helped so that the snow that we’ve been blessed with remains here. So for those of you who can’t stand the cold and snow, just remember that there are people in your area that actually prefer it.

“It’s really good conditions,” Olson said. “It’s been great.”

“We live in the northern country, you might as well make the most of it,” Anderson added. “You can see a lot of beautiful scenic nature. More than likely run into a few deer. It’s a good exercise and it’s real easy.”

Black’s Grove Park is located two miles west of Wadena on Hwy 29 and half a mile north on 620th Ave. The park includes over eight miles of groomed cross country ski trails that wind through wooded trails of the park. Benches and shelters are found along the way for a quick break or to let the more advanced skiers pass by. New snowshoe trails also wind through the parks wooded wonderland.