On December 1, 2011, the Winter Park Pines Nature Preserve was established with the granting of a perpetual conservation easement by Ken and Carolyn Aldridge to the Northwoods Land Trust. This 3,195 acre property -nearly five square miles – includes about 43 kilometers of cross-country ski and snow shoe trails at the core of the Minocqua Winter Park Nordic Center’s trail system. This project is the largest conservation easement ever donated to a land trust in Wisconsin.
Minocqua Winter Park is regarded as one of the premier cross-country ski trail systems in the Midwest. The ski chalet is located on 40 acres of land owned by the Town of Minocqua and managed for public use under an agreement with the Lakeland Ski Touring Foundation, Inc. The Winter Park Pines Nature Preserve surrounds the chalet property.
Through the land protection agreement, the Aldridges have granted skiers perpetual access to the existing trails, allowed for sustainable forestry, and limited land fragmentation and development which will keep the land in its natural state. Through the Aldridge’s generosity, the land will remain forever open to the public for winter sports including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and skijoring (skiing with dogs).
The conservation agreement also protects over 13 miles of natural shorelines on the Squirrel River, Yukon Creek, Howard’s Creek, and other small, un-named streams and ponds. In addition, the land provides natural habitat buffers around and adjacent to the Squirrel River Pines State Natural Area.
The public is invited to the dedication of the new Winter Park Pines Nature Preserve on Thursday, December 29th at 11 a.m. at the chalet.
To get to Minocqua Winter Park, take Hwy. 70 about 6.5 miles west of Minocqua, turn south on Squirrel Lake Road for about 4 miles, and follow the signs east ¼ mile on Scotchman Lake Road to the entrance drive. For more information on the preserve or dedication, contact land trust Executive Director Bryan Pierce at (715) 479-2490.