A scenic view from the trail includes the hills and valleys of Bluff Country as a back drop for some old farm buildings.
A scenic view from the trail includes the hills and valleys of Bluff Country as a back drop for some old farm buildings.
As a reasonably avid cross country skier, I was disappointed last year with the lack of snow cover; this year is looking pretty good so far.

Skiing on the Harmony-Preston Valley and Root River State Trails has been enjoyable, especially the week after Christmas. The groomed tracks are in pretty good shape even though the snow depth doesn't prevent your poles from contacting the blacktop at times.

The Harmony-Preston Valley Trail is groomed from Isinours Junction through Preston to just south of the Hutton Valley Road (County 16). Most of the Root River Trail should be groomed as well at this point.

Although my main motivation is getting some exercise, the greatest benefit is being outdoors enjoying the fresh air, serenity and beauty of the area. I have a harder time getting motivated to exercise indoors at home.

The silence out on the trail is truly relaxing as well as experiencing the rich evidence of wildlife. Often you can see some wildlife directly on the trail as well as the variety of tracks and wildlife trails that have been left. I often wonder why the deer like to trample on the groomed ski tracks; do they just like to mess with us?

Sometimes you'll see the harder side of nature; like the deer carcass stripped to the bone on the Harmony-Preston Valley Trail, perhaps left by coyotes? I have considered doing some night skiing on the trail but maybe not as much now!

Skiing from Hutton Valley (at County Road 16) north towards Preston is good for any level of skier and you can enjoy the silence as well as the babbling sound of Camp Creek as you cross the multiple bridges on the route.

If you like a little more exercise, go south from Hutton Valley (You will soon run out of groomed trail) and up the hills on tracks set by a some adventurous skiers. Coming back downhill is a lot of fun too. There are areas of light snow as well as deep drifts due to the winds that hit the trail in this area.

I think my favorite run is from Isinours uphill towards Fountain. It is a nice steady uphill climb (reasonable exercise) with a relaxing downhill run back.

Whether you like to ski, snowshoe, hike or snowmobile, get out and enjoy our Minnesota winter.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!