Cross Country Skiing Near Breezy Point


There are two main close places to cross country ski if you are staying at Breezy Point. The one is the Erkki Harju Ski Trail and the other is the Korkki Nordic Ski Center. They both offer cross-country skiing and both have really difficult names to remember and spell, but the similarities end there. The Erkki is a fairly easy city trail, while the Korkki is a difficult trail cutting a narrow winding path through a thick forest.

xc-skiMatt Miller is on the Board of Directors for the Korkki Center. He was a competitive skier in high school and college and was given a chance to train in Norway and Sweden for a month. When he got back to America he did not see anything that resembled the narrow mountain trails in Scandinavia—not until he moved to this area.

“I heard about the area called Korkki Nordic and went out there and it was just an immediate flashback,” said Matt. “It was just such a unique intimate experience, these low trails winding through the balsam trees and through the woods.”

Equally as interesting as the trail is the story behind it. Legendary Duluth Central skiing coach Charlie Banks created the trail on his land to train kids and hold events. Mark Helmer now lives there and does most of the maintenance work on the trails.

“Mark’s whole purpose is to create those outdoor experience for skiers in the area,” said Matt. “Mark’s big pride and joy is hosting the high school ski race we have the third week of January each year.”

Part of the trail is on Mark’s land and part is on leased county land. The center contains the trails and a popular warming shack. Although most of the Korkki is difficult, they do have a small easy section.

“We have a really short loop, a one and a half kilometer one, that is pretty flat and basic for a more beginner skier,” said Matt. “But we really encourage people who haven’t skied before to start out somewhere else or just stay on that first loop.”

cc-ski1-300x200The Erkki Harju Ski Trail mostly consists of nice wide trails through a golf course. There are some sections that go through the woods, though. It does have one big advantage over the Korkki—it is lit up. While the unlit Korkki closes at nightfall, the Erkki allows night skiing. For this reason Matt often skis on the Erkki, because he can do it after work and after the early winter sunsets.

The Korkki Nordic Ski Center is a non-profit group that relies on donations and membership dues. They have a few hundred members.

“We survive off membership money but we are happy to get people out there,” said Matt. “If they want to leave a donation in our box that is great. If they can’t do it or don’t want to, that is alright as well.”

Matt skis both trails and even with all his skiing experience, the Korkki is not all that easy.

“It is still demanding for me,” said Matt. “You can glide for about a kilometer and pick up speed and you are 2 feet from trees you are going by. It is a challenging course.”

If you are staying at Breezy Point you have a couple of different options depending on your skill level. Whichever one you pick, both offer great skiing in a very scenic area.