Penokee Mountain Trail Near Mellen Open for Skijoring

Contact(s): Janice McInerney, (715) 401-4065

Newly groomed trail.

Mellen, Wis., Feb. 25, 2021—The Penokee Mountain Trail on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is open for dog skijoring this winter recreation season. The forest prohibits dogs on most groomed cross-country ski trails, so this is a unique opportunity to get some cold-weather exercise with a four-legged friend.

“We’re excited to offer a new way for people and their pups to enjoy the forest,” said Katie LeMoine, recreation technician for the forest. “Penokee is a beautiful trail, and we hope this encourages more people to come check it out.”

Dog skijoring, sometimes called dog skiing, involves a person on skis with a harnessed dog pulling ahead on a lead. The dog doesn’t do all the work though. Far from enjoying a free ride, the skier must maintain a brisk pace to keep the dog focused on forward motion.

The forest recommends checking with a veterinarian before skijoring to make sure the dog is healthy and in condition to enjoy the sport. New skijorers should also research proper gear to keep both people and pets safe.

“We’ve opened Penokee Mountain Trail to dog skijoring for a limited trial run this season,” said District Ranger Mike Martin. “We’re informally observing use and listening to feedback from skijorers as well as other trail users.”

Dog pawprints and feces can destroy a groomed trail, so the forest prohibits skijoring on most of its ski trails. The forest asks skijorers to practice Leave No Trace™ principles by cleaning up after pets and repairing damage to groomed tracks.

The Penokee Mountain Trail is located three miles west of Mellen on State Highway GG. Two trail loops are suitable for skiers of moderate ability, while an 8.6 km loop with challenging climbs and descents calls for intermediate skills. The longer route includes an open shelter, fire ring and grill for an opportunity to rest along the way or stay the night.

All the loops are open for classic skiing, dog skijoring and snowshoeing. The trail is also open to fat tire bikers, but the forest doesn’t specifically groom trails for bike use. Snowshoers and bikers should stay to the sides of trails to avoid groomed tracks. The forest posts weekly updates about ski trail conditions on its website at

The forest charges a day-use fee of $5 at the Penokee Mountain Trail to support maintenance and grooming. Regular users can also purchase an annual local forest pass for $30 or a variety of national passes. Details about recreation passes are available at

More information about the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is available on the forest's website at or though social media on Facebook and Twitter.


Newly groomed trail.     Newly groomed trail.

Caption:  New for this winter recreation season, the Penokee Mountain Trail near Mellen, Wis., is open for dog skijoring. The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest welcomes feedback from skijorers and other visitors about this trial use. USDA Forest Service photos by Katie LeMoine.