All posts by Jay Richards

Fat Bike Trail Report

Currently the trails are open. Very light dusting of snow on majority of trail surface, few scattered slick spots but rock solid ground and good riding conditions for both mountain and fat bikes.

Consistent cold nights has been freezing down the base making for nice winter riding conditions with mountain bike or fat bike. Please stay off the trails if temps above freezing. Riding possible all day if temps below 34, if above 34, please try to ride in the morning.

Once again we will be grooming for fat biking with over 20km of separate singletrack trail. The main loops to be groomed will be the Twin Lakes and Bullhead Bootleg singletrack loops. Connector segments in between will also be groomed combining ski trail segments to make one big loop. We will also be grooming the new beginner loop “SukkerWest” which is accessed at the end of the driveway. We hope to open the trails for fat biking early December.

All day and season passes for non overnight guests must be purchased online through the website.

Maplelag team member Ben Olson enjoying the good conditions on the Bootleg singletrack loop, November 25th, 2020.
Rock garden on North Loup Gnar singletrack, November 25th, 2020. (B lines on many sections of this loop) Overall loop riding nice with great traction.
Bootleg singletrack loop, November 24th, 2020. Great riding on the Bootleg loop!
Bike bridge on Bootleg, November 24th, 2020. Use caution when glazed!
Twin Lakes singletrack, November 24th, 2020.
Ski trail segment of mountain bike course, November 22nd, 2020.
Bootleg singletrack, November 22nd, 2020. Currently the Bootleg loop in best riding condition.

Trail Report

Beautiful day on tap with sunshine, light winds and cool temps. Morning low checking in at 17 degrees. Consistent cold nights continue to freeze the ground down nicely setting frost deeper into the trails. Very light dusting of snow covering. With frozen ground it won’t take much to have early season skiing.

Most of the are lakes are frozen over. Little Sugarbush opening up in the middle this week but north end with over 3″ of ice.

Select singletrack loops will be groomed again for fat biking once weather permits. Until snow comes, MTB trails are currently open for winter riding when air temps 34 or less. Report on the Fat Bike trail report.

Lodging for the season will begin on December 20th. We will open the trails for day skiing as soon as there is enough snow to ski. All day and season passes for non overnight guests must be purchased online through the website. Please note the lodge will be closed to day skiers as a result of COVID-19 precautions. This includes no ski rental availability.

Taking advantage of nice weather for late season trail tuning, November 23rd, 2020.
Trail crew! November 23rd, 2020.
Cleaning up the edges on Skaters Waltz, November 23rd, 2020.
Dusk over Little Sugurbush lake, lake Maplelag is next to, November 22nd, 2020. We slowly continue to “make” more ice. Have clear ice free of snow helpful for making good ice.
Skaters Waltz ski trail, November 22nd, 2020. Ready for snow!
Riding on a ski trail segment of the mountain bike course, November 22nd, 2020. The mountain bike trails are open for winter riding when the deck is frozen and temps below freezing.
Bushwhack skiing on Sukkerbusk, clearing sticks and branches along the way. November 17th, 2020.
Afternoon sun filtering through the forest, November 17th, 2020.
Checking out a groomed portion of trail. Not open for skiing, very thin base. Ready for the next snowfall! November 17th, 2020.
Roll packing on Sukkerbusk through the skinny field, November 16th, 2020.
Rollpacking on Sap Run, November 16th, 2020.
Main lodge, November 16th, 2020.
Little Sugarbush lake, lake Maplelag next to, freezing over again last night. November 16th, 2020.

Covid-19 Update at Maplelag

Early taste of winter with skiing and grooming has us excited for the upcoming winter season. We will be open this winter for lodging and meal options for overnight guests and also for day skiing, fat biking and snow shoeing. We are constantly monitory the rules and regulations set forth by the Minnesota Department of Health, the Stay Safe MN guidelines, along with processing information from the CDC and other health organizations. The health of ourselves, the staff and guests is our number one priority. We are a family owned and operated resort that values the well-being of our staff and guests above all else.

The new restrictions set in place by Minnesota Govenor Walz with Executive order 20-99 on 11/18/20 does not change our planning or ability to serve under our current plan that already has adjustments and changes in place. The order expires before we plan to open for lodging operations.

Lodging and lodge services will be available December 20th. The trails will open for day skiing and fat biking only as soon as conditions allow. As noted below; the main lodge will be closed to day skiers during the season. All day and season passes must be purchased online.

The option for take out food will exist and depending on how things progress, take out might be the only food option. We will have separate entrance and exit points for the lodge and dining room when entering and exiting.

We sent out deposit letters for existing reservations in September and thank you to all that have confirmed and indicated your plans for the upcoming season. Even if it does not involve a visit this year, the heartfelt words are so appreciated and a reminder of how fortunate we are to have such wonderful guests, that we consider “Maplelag Family”. If you did not receive a letter, please contact us as soon as possible.

How things might look this year:

When Maplelag first started as a resort, welcoming guests for skiing among a mixed hardwood forest, it was a place to escape to rejuvenate and restore from the outside world. It was much simpler times that saw folks arrive, go to their cabin, stoke the wood fire stove, ski/snowshoe and either come back to the sugar shack for a home cooked meal or enjoy pre-prepared food. There was not much community atmosphere like there is now. In discussion and planning on how things might look this winter, we envision a similar approach to these simpler times of the past. For example, arriving to Maplelag, checking into your cabin with pre confirmation of exact unit and location, recreating and enjoying the beauty of winter whether skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking or gazing at the stars at night or watching snow fall gingerly from the sky. Don’t forget a good book or puzzle, options in the lodge or in the expansive library. Another alternative if your lodging unit does not have a large common space would be to reserve a private room downstairs. This idea is still in the planning stages.

There are a lot of signs at Maplelag but we ask you respect these!

We plan to serve Maplelag’s home cooked family style meals with social distancing and mask wearing in place. Weekends where we might have more people (and still below our “normal” occupancy) in addition to using the dining room we would also use the middle conference room and the large conference room to spread people out as much as possible. There is also the possibility we would have take out option. If regulations and extra safety measures are taken, it is possible all meals will be takeout. Either way, we are prepared to accommodate all the overnight guests as safe as possible.

We know people have different views and opinions and we ask that everyone be respectful and mindful of other’s opinions. Only same group or family members will be seated together. At this time, it looks like our occupancy during the weekends and Holiday time frame will be 50-60%, well below the maximum numbers allowed for group gatherings based on our occupancy and dining room size. With the Maplelag dining room the size that it is, we will be able to spread everyone out safely. There might be options for bag breakfast or lunch–again this will be a work in progress. These ideas are in the planning stages; we are always keeping everyone’s safety our top priority.

Other changes:

The coffee bar area will have a different look. The cookie jars will not be in place;  instead, all cookies will be individually wrapped. Coffee, tea and hot chocolate will be available.

No cookie jars but Maplelag’s infamous cookies will be available!

At this time, the hot tub, sauna and steam room will not be in operation. This could change and there would be sign up sheets for reserved times and private use. Again, everyone’s safety is priority.

Ski Rental will be limited for overnight guests. We are working on a final plan, self service most likely a option. No ski rental for day skiing use (non overnight guests).

Day passes for day skiing (non overnight guests) must be purchased online; there will be no services for day skiers offered in the lodge at this time.

The dance/variety show will not be planned at this time.

Checkout/final payments will most likely be done online, we will invoice folks through PayPal or other electronic means.We will continue to update this page with our latest plans, and of course we ask anyone with specific questions outside of this information to reach out. Thank you and be well!  

Trail Report

The trails are now closed for public use with deer hunting season in place. Cold weather this week is setting frost back into the ground and freezing the ponds and smaller lakes over. Morning low in the single digits on Friday. Setting frost is ideal before snow comes for good.

Once deer hunting is over, we will be back on the trails clearing and fine tuning select trails. We clear the leaves off as much as we can before the snow comes. Having trails cleared helps the frost set up quicker and allows us to groom on minimal snow and open the trails for skiing early.

We had a nice run of October skiing after 14″ of snowfall the second half of the month. Great seeing everyone out to enjoy early season skiing.

Snow in October has been typical at Maplelag as 8 of the last 11 Octobers has seen measurable snowfall. Always exciting for us at Maplelag to see snow and appreciate the opportunity to ski and groom!

Trail pass for day skiing can be purchased online. (Early season pass is $100, use deposit option and indicate ski pass in notes). Family season pass is $200. Passes will increase to $150 and $250 respectively after November 15th.

It was a spectacular fall of color, hitting our peak around the 19th of September which is typical for Maplelag. The color this year been some of the best we can recall, thanks to all the moisture this summer with nearly 17″ of rain.

We have been busy mowing and clearing leaves on the ski trails preparing for the winter, clearing deadfall off the trails and cutting firewood for the wood burning stoves, planting trees and also working on the mountain bike trails. For latest updates on the mountain bike trail conditions, click here. Trails are closed to horse and motorized travel.

Sunset over Sap Run ski trail, November 5th, 2020.
Little Suguarbush, lake Maplelag is next to, with a thin layer of ice, November 4th, 2020. Even with the warm days this week, cold nights and calm mornings have left a thin layer of ice. Opening back up during the day but a good sign the water and soil temps are cold which is good sign heading into winter!
Skaters Waltz mid day, November 2nd, 2020.
Suicide Hill still fully covered, November 2nd, 2020.
Sukkerbusk ski trail with crusty ice base, November 2nd, 2020.
Sukkebusk where not groomed the end of October, snow has melted off. November 2nd, 2020.
One more ski on Suicide Hill, October 31st, 2020.
Top of Suicide Hill, October 31st, 2020. Solid base but might have hard time hanging on warm spell next week.
Treats only! Jonell enjoying a Halloween ski! October 31st, 2020.
Yet another grooming run in October, roll packing the new snow overnight. October 30th, 2020. Warm temps and sunshine today quickly deteriorating the base. We won’t be able to open the trails until cold weather and more snow returns.
Sunset ski, October 28th, 2020.
Groomed surface holding out well very skiable. Freezing down even farther overnight. October 27th, 2020.
As usual, Suicide Hill holding great. Solid base. Might make it through the warm weather to come! October 27th, 2020.
Great early season skiing Sunday afternoon, October 25th, 2020.
Grooming fresh dusting of snow into the existing groomed base, October 25th, 2020.
US Biathlon team member Paul Schommer getting first tracks on the fresh grooming today, October 25th, 2020.
Moorhead Nordic HS skiers enjoying the day, October 25th, 2020.
Dr. Bob back out for another season of skiing, October 25th, 2020.
Eric heading out for another lap, October 25th, 2020.
Grooming on Sukkerbusk around the skinny field adding a new segment to the groomed loop for additional meters, October 25th, 2020.
Grooming a new segment on JibFly, adding to the early season loop, October 25th, 2020.
Bemidji Nordic skiers after a afternoon on the trails, October 24th, 2020.
Moorhead Nordic skiers ready to hit the trails for a morning ski, October 24th, 2020.
Moorhead Nordic skiers ready to hit the trails for afternoon ski, October 24th, 2020.
Bear tracks! October 24th, 2020.
Sunset ski, October 24th, 2020.
Sunrise on Island Lake, October 24th, 2020. Most of the small lakes frozen over.
Maplelag team member Peder A skiing through the skinny field, October 23rd, 2020. This is the connector from Sukkerbusk to Skaters Waltz.
Heading to the trails from the “switchyard”, October 23rd, 2020.
Sukkerbusk segment of groomed loop best skiing, October 23rd, 2020.
Suicide Hill, October 23rd, 2020.
Ready to hit the trails, October 23rd, 2020. Great seeing the HS kids out this week!
Neighbor Carol and friend enjoying the October snow. October 23rd, 2020.
Morning grooming on early season 3km loop, October 23rd, 2020.
Grooming on Suicide Hill, October 23rd, 2020.
Scene from edge of Bullhead Lake, October 23rd, 2020. Ice forming on the edges.
Intersection of Mother North Star (not groomed) and groomed loop to right on Sukkerbusk, October 23rd, 2020.
Norwegian Log cabin, October 23rd, 2020.
Jonell heading out for a birthday ski under yet more fresh October snow! October 22nd, 2020.
Early season skiing with fall and winter scenes! October 21st, 2020.
Always can count on seeing Denny and friends when the early snow flies! October 21st, 2020.
Sukkerbusk segment of groomed loop providing really nice early season skiing, October 21st, 2020.
Casey out for early season laps, October 21st, 2020.
First grooming of the year on Skinny Field, October 20th, 2020.
Grooming on Suicide Hill, October 20th, 2020.
Another October ski! Striding through the skinny field, October 20th, 2020.
Suicide Hill! October 20th, 2020.
Morning fall grooming before the snow, October 20th, 2020.
First ski of the season after 3-5″ of snow Saturday morning, October 17th, 2020.
Fall/winter scene October17th, 2020.
Sukkerbusk ski trail, October 17th, 2020.
Sunrise over a group of tamarack trees, October 15th, 2020. The only coniferous tree to change color and loose it’s needles. Also the last trees to provide color around Maplelag!
Morning sun at Twin Lakes crossing, October 15th, 2020.
Late afternoon sun highlighting the last of the fall color, October 13th, 2020.
Section of Sukkerbusk freshly cleared of leaves, October 13th, 2020.
October sky, October 13th, 2020.
Leaf clearing on the singletrack, October 12th, 2020.
Clearing leaves on Skaters Waltz, October 9th, 2020. Having a leaf free surface allows the ground to freeze quicker and also we are able to groom on just a few inches of snow.
Fall grooming on Suicide Hill, October 9th, 2020.
Fall scene at Twin Lakes crossing, October 8th, 2020.
Top of Suicide Hill, October 5th, 2020. Still pockets of great color in the woods even though most of the leaves are down around the lodge and cabins.
Frosty morning near start and finish of Loon Return ski trail, October 4th, 2020.
Frosty morning near start and finish of Loon Return ski trail, October 4th, 2020.
Rootin Tootin ski trail, September 27th, 2020.
Beautiful fall scene from the ski trail as seen looking towards south Twin Lake, September 25th, 2020.
Color around the cabooses, September 22nd, 2020.
Little Sugarbush Lakes, September 22nd, 2020.
Skaters Waltz extension ski trail, September 22nd, 2020.
Sukkerbusk ski trail, September 22nd, 2020.
Color around the log cabins, September 22nd, 2020.
Fall trail grooming, September 22nd, 2020. We have working on the entire trail system daily.
Color near the caboose! September 21st, 2020.
Looking down the Maplelag driveway, late afternoon September 20th, 2020
Fall color in front of main lodge, September 19th, 2020.
Mountain bike singletrack, September 19th, 2020.
Fall color in the switchyard, September 16th, 2020.
Fall color in the switchyard, September 16th, 2020.
Mother North Star ski trail, September 16th, 2020.
Sukkerbusk ski trail, September 16th, 2020.
Fall scene near Skaters Waltz extension ski trail, September 15th, 2020.
Fall scene at Twin Lakes crossing. Good crop of high bush cranberries this year. September 14th, 2020.
Maplelag driveway, September 14th, 2020.
Fall color near the start of North Loup ski trail, September 13th, 2020.
Mossy rocks in creek near Bullhead Bootleg, September 13th, 2020.
Early evening scene from the woods, September 1st, 2020.
Aspen leaf with early signs of fall, August 30th, 2020. (Zavoral photo)
Mushroom growth on oak tree, August 30th, 2002. (Zavoral photo)
First maple leafs changing color, August 26th, 2020. We should have fantastic fall color this season the next 4-6 weeks.
Late summer scene over North Star slough, August 21st, 2020.
Early signs of fall on the ski trails, August 22nd, 2020.
Beautiful afternoon capture by Barry Buhr out riding Saturday afternoon, August 22nd, 2020.
Summer sunset over Little Sugarbush, August 22nd, 2020.
Many mushrooms popping up everywhere with all the moisture this summer, August 21st, 2020.
Sugarbush sunset, August 21st, 2020.
Split wood for the old sauna, August 17th, 2020.
Load of blocks cleared from the ski trail to be split for sauna firewood, August 17th, 2020.
Summer grooming on Twin Lakes crossing, July 22nd, 2020.
Lush carpet on Skaters Waltz, July 24th, 2020.
Tall grass on Skaters Waltz extension, July 22nd, 2020.
Hints of fall on maple tree near Skaters Waltz, July 22nd, 2020.
Lush conditions at end of Twin Lakes trail, July 22nd, 2020.
Another mowing on Suicide Hill, July 21st, 2020. We’ve been mowing regularly on the key trails throughout the summer.
Calm waters on Little Sugarbush looking towards the main lodge, July 14th, 2020.
Sunset over Little Sugarbush, July 16th, 2020.
New mountain bike trail work, July 16th, 2020. Nice work Keith!
Summer seen along Mother North Star trail, July 12th, 2020.
Calm waters on Little Sugarbush lake, July 12th, 2020.
Mossy carpet on Sap Run ski trail, July 9th, 2020.
Black Eyed Susan at bottom of Suicide Hill, July 9th, 2020.
Deer along waterway at Sugar Creek, July 9th, 2020.
Moss covered basswood trees, July 9th, 2020.
Lush conditions on the bike trail, July 5th, 2020.
Sunset on Little Sugarbush, July 5th, 2020.
Summer scene from north Twin Lakes, June 23rd, 2020.
Lush conditions on the singletrack, June 23rd, 2020.
Summer grooming on the ski trail at Sugar Creek crossing, June 23rd, 2020.
Maple “gnarly” near Rootin Tootin ski trail, June 22nd, 2020.
First mowing on Sukkerbusk ski trail, June 5th, 2020.
First mowing on Suicide Hill, June 4th, 2020.
Mossy singletrack, June 3rd, 2020.
Record “crop” of yellow slippers this year, May 29th, 2020.
Swamp scene near Rootin Tootin ski trail, May 29th, 2020.
Wild Columbine flowers blooming this week, May 27th, 2020.
Sunset at Sugarbush creek at Twin Lakes crossing, May 28th, 2020.
Sap Run ski trail, May 27th, 2020. Woods have really come to life with recent warm weather. In the next week or so we will begin mowing the trails!
Lush and green on the mountain bike singletrack, May 27th, 2020.
Feeders very busy this week with hundreds of gold finches, May 20th, 2020.
Wildflowers (marsh marigolds) along the side of the trail, May 17th, 2020.
Spring scene along the trail. Trees starting to fill out more and more each day, May 17th, 2020.
Loons on Little Sugarbush! The lake is always very active in the spring with the sounds of loons, and a few more this year. May 3rd, 2020.
Moon rising through a poplar stand, May 3rd, 2020. The poplar trees are the first to bud and recent warm temps have brought the first buds out.
Wildflowers have exploded with warmer temps this week, April 30th, 2020.
All the ponds and sloughs are now free of ice, April 30th, 2020.
Hauling out another load of oak deadfall for sauna firewood, April 28th, 2020.
Planting potted pines, April 28th, 2020.
Planting potted pines, April 28th, 2020.
Evening paddle board on available open water, April 24th, 2020.
Season opener dirt ride on the mountain bike course, April 23rd, 2020.
Berm action on new Bootleg singletrack near Bullhead lake on Maplelag property, April 23rd, 2020.
Scene from south side of south Twin Lake, still half covered in ice. April 23rd, 2020.
First spring flowers emerging from the forest floor, April 21st, 2020.

Clearing out mountain bike singletrack, April 21st, 2020. The mountain bike trails are now open for riding.
Little Sugarbush Lake still ice covered, April 18th, 2020.
Fingerling swimming above the ice in the melted water, April 18th, 2020.
Cutting deadfall for firewood, April 17th, 2020.
Sunset over Bullhead Lake, April 11th, 2020.
Spring scene near JibFly slough, April 9th, 2020. Still ice on many of the ponds and sloughs.
Scene at Twin Lakes crossing, April 9th, 2020.
One last lake ski, April 9th, 2020. Still a foot of solid ice on the lake.
Patches of snow on the Twin Lakes ski trail, April 10th, 2020.
Moss first sign of spring on ski trail, April 10th, 2020.
Little Sugarbush lake, lake Maplelag is next to still ice covered, April 10th, 2020.
Rings around the sun! April 10th, 2020.
Riding on the frozen singletrack, April 9th, 2020. Riding has been possible in the mornings when frozen. Frost should be out and trails open for dirt riding later in April.
Full “pink” moon, April 8th, 2020.
Enjoying the last of the snow on Twin Lakes trail, April 7th, 2020.