Despite being part of the Twin Cities ski scene, Trollhaugen is in Wisconsin. But that’s OK. It’s still worth checking out, especially if you live in the northern metro.
While Twin Cities riders and skiers don’t have much terrain to work with, they do have several lift-served areas to choose from.
Trollhaugen, like other ski areas in the region, has modest terrain that tops out at about 300 feet. It does a good job with the terrain park, which of course makes the place attractive to younger riders and skiers.
Troll, as some people call it, gets the award for the best atmosphere and services. The chalet has good views of the slopes and looks like a ski lodge should more than any other in the Twin Cities. It also has a coffee shop, with sit-down service that has more of a “casual dining restaurant” feel than coffee shop. The downstairs part of the building isn’t as fancy, though: food is for sale through a stadium-style window; the tables could have come from a school cafeteria; and the floor is cement. On the upside, cement floors mean no 20-year old carpet. And when you gotta go, you gotta go, so mark this: Troll outclasses its regional competitors in terms of its restrooms.
An adjacent building houses a ski shop that is leased to a private concern. This specialization of service serves the customer well; the shop had the best selection of gear and accessories that I’ve remembered encountering in these parts. On my visit here, I bought some goggles for night riding.
Unlike any place I’ve been to, you have to pass through a guarded fence to get to the slopes. There’s a single gate that you use, and a resort employee watches to make sure you have a ticket. This “feature” is perhaps simply a belt-and-suspenders approach to making sure that people pay up; after all, lifties aren’t always diligent in checking for tickets.
One odd quality of the lodge is that it sits higher than the lifts. After passing through the gate, you must drop about 30 feet. For skiers, this isn’t such a bad thing; step into the bindings, slide down, and then you’re at the lift.
Snowboarders, on the other hand, could have trouble. They must either walk down the hill to a lift, or buckle/strap/step in just beyond the gate, and then unbuckle or step out after a very short ride. Some snowboarders could ride towards the lift with a single foot in the binding, but I wouldn’t recommend it for the novice or intermediate rider.
Trollhaugen has two learning areas, Minibakken and Mickenbacken. I saw only Minibakknen, and even then I didn’t take the rope to the top of it. What I saw, however, looked too narrow for learning snowboarding.
As you might expect from a small Midwestern resort, there is plenty of room for freestyle riders. Valhalla is a terrain park with kickers (one rather large) and some rails.
One of the blues, Lee’s Run, has two branches; one has some rolls and swells, but both let you get to The Chute and Jumpen Judy, two black diamonds that get their rating not from the pitch as much as from their narrow width.
Nissenbakiken is a blue offers riders a little chance to play with a mini-bowl at the top before it leads into something approaching a couloir. Juliebakken, another blue, has several mounds, though I’m not sure if those are natural features or caches of snow.
Troll offers a gladed area, one of the few in the Twin Cities area.
Trollhaugen also offers snow tubing, which is common for Twin Cities resorts, and a cross-country area (2.5km), which isn’t.