Skijoring in Wisconsin: 14 Dog-Friendly Winter Adventures

By Amy Bayer
Staff Writer

Skijoring is a winter sport which combines a cross-country skier with a dog on a harness. You provide power with skis and poles while your dog adds additional power by running and pulling, following your verbal commands. It's an activity which allows both human and four-legged athletes to enjoy exercise in the great outdoors during winter.

Skijoring is derived from the Norwegian word for "ski driving," and one to three dogs are commonly used (although in some circumstances horses or motorized vehicles are also used). Although skijoring has been around for hundreds of years, its popularity is rapidly growing in Wisconsin. As more races and tour companies feature skijoring, dog enthusiasts recognize it as an activity they can participate in with a dog and minimal equipment.

Here are some ideas for places to go in Wisconsin whether you're looking to learn or are an experienced skijorer.

Learning How to Skijor

Skijoring falls under the category of sled dog sports, so before you begin it is recommended to review the sled dog care guidelines at the Mush with Pride website. Most medium-sized dogs (30 pounds and up) will be able to skijor if trained properly.

Justin Trails B&B ResortSparta

The Justin Trails Nordic Center offers a lot of open space including a special dog loop for skijoring with your four-legged friend. Staff at Justin Trails also provides skijoring lessons for you and your dog; all you need is a dog that likes to pull and they will help you with the rest.

Minocqua Winter ParkMinocqua

The Minocqua Winter Park holds skijoring clinics hosted by the Wisconsin Trailblazers Sled Dog Club. Their clinics are a great place for you and your dog to learn to skijor, and it’s a fantastic location to practice after you’ve learned the basics.

Where to Skijor in Wisconsin

When you're ready to go skijoring on your own, look for dog-friendly parks around the state that have multi-use trails or trails that have not already been groomed specifically for cross-country skiers. Here are some locations for you to check out:

Skijoring Races in Wisconsin

Here are just a handful of iconic skijoring competitions held in Wisconsin every winter.

Barkie BirkieHayward

The American Birkebeiner is a four-day event in the Cable/Hayward area that hosts thousands of skiers from around the world. Included in this skiing extravaganza is the Barkie Birkie, which loops through Hayward and has two courses: one for fast, experienced teams and another course for novice, inexperienced teams.

                                                                                                                              Video by Nate Baker

Skijoring on the SquareMadison

There is always snow in February on the Capitol Square for the Madison Winter Festival, an event that hosts cross country skiing, snow carving, fat bike races, ice sculptures and, of course, skijoring. The 3K competition races around our State Capitol building on more than 90 truckloads of snow that is dumped on the streets.

Merrill Winterfest Sled Dog RaceMerrill

Hundreds of sled dog enthusiasts compete during this annual winter event. More than just sled dog races, Merrill's Winterfest also has a skijoring track and numerous other community activities like skating and indoor volleyball.

Three Bear Sled Dog RaceLand O’ Lakes

The Three Bear Sled Dog Race is one of the premier spectator races in the northern Midwest. The Three Bear's course is known for its beautiful trails and warm hospitality. From six-dog sled races to skijoring, this event is a favorite among dogs and their owners.

This entry was posted in Skijoring, Outdoor Fun Events