Rollerski Destinations - Central Lakes Trail and Glendalough
Updated: Dec 3, 2019
West Central MN has some great roller skiing routes. The Central Lakes Trail is 90km long from Fergus Falls to Osakis and covers beautiful countryside through woods, lakes, and prairies. Another good route is located at Glendalough State Park. The Glendalough Trail circles Molly Stark and Annie Battle lakes through hardwood forest and reclaimed prairie. Both of these routes offer miles of relatively uncongested trail closed to vehicle traffic and a fairly smooth asphalt surface.
Trail Surface: Wide asphalt, former railroad grade, some cracks, all very skiable
Distance: About 90km from Fergus Falls to Osakis, MN
Trailheads: Fergus Falls, Dalton, Ashby, Evansville, Brandon, Alexandria, Osakis
Best for: Long, easy distance skis
Tips: Check the wind forecast as it can be brutal out here on the edge of the prairie! Start at one of the midway towns such as Ashby so you can ski into the wind when your legs are fresh and have the wind at your back on the way home.
Places to stay: Ashby Resort, Lake Carlos State Park, Hotels at Alexandria or Fergus Falls
Trail Surface: Asphalt, a few years old, good condition except for a some cracks (currently they have cones and look like they will be repaired soon)
Distance: 5km paved trail in park + 3km park road + 6km paved trail from park to town
Trailhead: Glendalough State Park (3 miles north of Battle Lake) and Battle Lake School
Best for: Tempo, Intervals
Tips: Take a swim when you're done. There are really nice beaches on Annie Battle at the Glendalough trail center and on West Battle at Lion's Park near town.
When to go: Anytime, but you may want to avoid the park on busy summer weekends when the trail can be busy with walkers and bikers.
Places to stay: Campground, cabins, and yurts at Glendalough State Park
There aren't many rollerskiiers here in West Central MN, so when you're out on the trail in full roller ski mode, pretty much everyone you pass has a comment. Here are some of the most typical remarks:
A serious inquiry near Ashby: "What are the sticks for?" ("Sticks" must be the colloquial term for "ski poles", I guess)
Almost everyone you pass: "Can't you tell there's no snow?" (Followed by a laugh. Very witty.)
A close 2nd: "Wow! I've never seen someone doing that before!"
And, my favorite: "It looks like fun! But what is it?"
Today, when I was out for a rollerski in Glendalough State Park, a lady from California asked me how the fishing was. Granted, I had just finished skiing so I was walking with my ski poles over one shoulder, but I still think it was hilarious that she misidentified them as fishing rods, considering I was holding roller skis in the other hand and wearing high-ankle racing skate boots. It would be an odd wardrobe choice for a hot day of fishing.