Winter Patrol Activities
Although the Backcountry Trail Patrol is primarily a mountain bike patrol, we are much more than what our Training Officer, Mike Randall, called "a mountain bike patroller who gets bored in the winter." The roots of the Backcountry Patrol go back to 1992, when the same park rangers who would start the bike patrol three years later, were given responsibility for the volunteer ski patrol in the Anoka County Parks. The rangers and volunteers were sent to training with the Hennepin (now Three Rivers) Parks volunteer patrol and the National Ski Patrol at Wild River State Park, and what would become the Backcountry Trail Patrol was born. In 2000 the group started doing patrol as volunteers at Lake Maria State Park and Sand Dunes State Forest. As time progressed and the patrol grew, we developed our own training programs and added training in trail care, grooming and area operations, as well as snowshoe patrol and winter camping. We also started winter safety education and outreach programs including our annual Backcountry Winter Workshop and the Junior Snow Ranger program. In 2001, when other Nordic ski patrol resources in the region were too busy to cover all of the numerous winter events in the Twin Cities area, medical and event directors for skiing races who knew us from the Twin Cities Marathon and Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, started contacting the bike patrol to see if we could help out. We responded enthusiastically, and became the official ski patrol at several races, including the City of Lakes Loppet Urban Ski Marathon.
In 2005, the patrol tested one of the first of a new breed of winter bikes and recognized that these fat-tired bikes were a potentially valuable resource for patrolling. In 2007 one of our patrollers started riding his personal Surly Pugsley at the City of Lakes Loppet, and was soon joined by other patrol members on their Pugsleys and Salsa Mukluks. As special events developed around these new bicycles, the patrol was asked to assist at races such as the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout and more recently, the American Birkebeiner Fat Bike Birkie. Since 2014, through the generousity of supporters, we were able to add six "fat bikes" to the patrol to enhance our coverage of winter events.
Now, when the traditional biking season comes to an end and the winter sets in, the Backcountry Trail Patrol is prepared for an active, snowy winter at Isanti County Parks and on the Chequamegon National Forest, with two-thirds of our members riding fat-bikes.
Watch for our red patrol jackets on the trails and at the City of Lakes Loppet ski and bike events, the Freezer Burn Fat-Bike Race, North End Ski Classic, Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout and the Fat Bike Birkie. Better yet, join us! Contact any patrol member or E-mail us for more information.
A winter discovery program for young people, available now region-wide through the Backcountry Trail Patrol
E-mail us for more information.
The 2016-17 Winter Patrol Activities supported by:
Thank you for your generous support!