By the time January rolls around, the excitement of snow cover has worn off for some, others are wondering how they'll shed the extra pounds gained over the holidays, and youngsters are starting to go a little stir crazy.
Not to fear, there's plenty to do outdoors in Cloquet, and much of it is free.
Hit the slopes
Sliding slopes, that is. Whether you call it "sledding" or "sliding," careening down a hill on a piece of wood, plastic or even cardboard is a thrill for kids and parents alike. While the big hill in Pinehurst Park is a popular destination, there are hazards to be avoided, including trees, fences and strangers. Churchill School in Cloquet's Sunnyside district north of the St. Louis River has a great sliding hill - albeit smaller - that's excellent for the younger crowd, and it doesn't get too busy. Cost for any of those places: Free.
Cloquet's outdoor rinks are located in Pinehurst Park, Athletic Park (off 14th Street and Prospect) and behind Churchill Elementary School. Warming house hours for Churchill and Athletic Park are 4- 8 p.m. weekdays, 1-8 p.m. Saturdays and 1-6 p.m. Sundays. The city did not open the warming house at Pinehurst Park this year, but it will be open the day of Winterfest, Saturday, Jan. 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Churchill has both a hockey rink and a pleasure-skating rink, while the only rink at Athletic Park does not have boards for hockey but the Pinehurst rink does.
Scanlon also has both a pleasure rink and a hockey rink at Sather Park on Washington Avenue.
Parks Superintendent Les Peterson said the city tries to flood each rink at least two or three times a week, as well as clear each rink after each snowfall.
"That way we build up a good amount of ice so it can last longer in the spring," Peterson said.
All the city's outdoor rinks are well used, Peterson said.
"You see a lot of pick-up hockey games at Pinehurst," he said, "and more family types at Athletic Park. It's not uncommon for 20 to 30 people to be skating."
For those who prefer to skate indoors, there is open skating at the Cloquet Area Recreation Center each week. Times for that vary, but there is a calendar online at cloquet.pucksystems2.com.
Go tubing or cross country skiing at Pine Valley
Cross country ski at Cloquet's beautiful Pine Valley. The trails are groomed and run through a hilly wooded area marked by two massive ski jumps that rise above the tree tops. Skiing is free, although you must have your own equipment. The trails are lit from dusk to approximately 10 p.m. every night, Peterson said.
For those who want a flatter terrain when they cross country ski, Peterson suggested the trail on the west side of Spring Lake Road, near the intersection with White Pine.
The tubing hill at Pine Valley is open Saturdays from 12:30 to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 1-6 p.m. Cost is $5 per person for the entire day, and tubes are provided. Children ages 6 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. A concession stand is open at the chalet when the tubing hill is operating. (Note: the tubing hill will be closed if the temperature is minus-five degrees Fahrenheit or colder.)