In this edition of Lake to the Bay, we venture into the woods of Door County on skis at night
When you ski cross-country trails after dark, you get a different view of Door County. And you also get an opportunity to experience the sport in a unique way.
Trails are all aglow during state park-sponsored candlelight skiing events. They will take place this year on these evenings: Saturday, Jan. 26, at Whitefish Dunes State Park in Sturgeon Bay (near Jacksonport); Saturday, Feb. 2, at Peninsula State Park, Fish Creek, (this is billed as ski or hike by candlelight event); and Feb. 9, at Newport State Park in Ellison Bay.
At night, cross-country skiers experience “flat” light, according to the Cross-Country Ski Areas Association. The minimal light condition causes skiers to lose depth perception, and when skiers can’t see a trail as well as they can during the day, they feel it instead. They feel, for example, the change in topography, the pitch of slopes and more.
In Door County, park organizers usually choose about mile-long easy trails for the event. At Whitefish Dunes State Park, more than 50 volunteers spend more than 100 hours setting up luminaria along the ski trail and preparing and serving homemade treats (which are available in a shelter building). About 700 people usually attend the candlelight ski at Whitefish Dunes State Park.
At Peninsula State Park
, volunteers help organize the event, which is part of this year’s 26th Annual Winter Festival, Feb. 1 to 3, in Fish Creek. In addition to skiing or hiking by candlelight, participants can partake in a bonfire with refreshments at a warming shelter.
If you are unable to attend a candlelight cross-country skiing event, keep in mind that Door County has trails open for skiing, as weather permits, throughout the winter.
Newport State Park, which is hosting the Feb. 9 ski event, offers 12.5 miles of groomed and single track trails. Meanwhile, Peninsula State Park opens 16 miles of groomed, double-tracked ski trails, which are designed for all levels—beginner to advanced as well as skate and diagonal style skiing.
(By the way, diagonal stride is a classical technique of cross-country skiing. In skating, skiers push the skis to the side and glide).
Whitefish Dunes State Park promotes nine miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, and 4.5 miles of ungroomed trails for hiking, snowshoeing or skiing.
Potawatomi State Park, Sturgeon Bay, has eight miles of one-way cross-country ski trails for classical skiing and skating. And Crossroads at Big Creek, Sturgeon Bay, offers more than four miles of groomed ski trails for skate and diagonal skiers.