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A Winter's Tail: Community Potluck & Nature Connection Gathering

posted Dec 15, 2015, 10:32 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 12, 2016, 8:29 AM ]
Come join friends for mid-winter fun and a community potluck and fire at scenic Lake Elmo Park Reserve!

Saturday, January 23
1:00 - 8:00 pm

Nordic Center
Lake Elmo Park Reserve
1515 Keats Ave N
Lake Elmo, MN 55042

Come join friends for mid-winter fun and a community potluck and fire at scenic Lake Elmo Park Reserve! Gather at the Nordic Center at 1:00 pm to meet old friends and new acquaintances. Activities include cross country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, games, and a Shinrin-yoku walk.*

After enjoying an afternoon outdoors, we’ll share a potluck dinner in the Nordic Center, then gather around the fire to share stories from our adventures. Musical instruments are welcome. The evening will wrap up around 8:00 pm.

*Shinrin-yoku is Japanese for 'forest bathing', or full immersion in nature with all the senses awakened.
Chris Brandt will serve as forest guide to guide you through a walk of exploration and discovery. Participants are invited to experience the present moment and restore health and well-being through deep nature connection.

What to bring:

  • Warm boots
  • Winter clothing (see below)
  • Skis (optional--free rentals also available, see below)
  • Snowshoes (optional)
  • Food (feel free to bring a side dish to share)
  • Dishes/utensils/cups
  • Camp chair or cushion

Schedule & Activities

1:00: Meet at the Nordic Center in Lake Elmo Park Reserve for cross country skiing or hiking, depending on snow conditions.
3:00: Meet back at the Nordic Center for active outdoor games & Shinrin Yoku Walk.
5:30: Potluck dinner in Nordic Center
6:30: Fireside s’mores, stories, and song
8:00: Wrap-up

Bonus Activities! Our gathering overlaps with the Lake Elmo Winter Festival, which runs 10am - 3pm the same day. We encourage you to take advantage of Winter Festival activities, including free cross country ski lessons and Fat Bike demos. Get information about the Winter Festival here. Register here for a ski lesson (pass required, equipment included) or Fat Tire Bike demo at 11 AM, 12:30 PM or 2 PM.

Questions (and some answers):

Are there fees for parking or skiing?
A Washington County Parks vehicle fee is required for the park ($5 per day or $25 for the season). Season passes are also good at Anoka County Parks and Carver County Parks. Skiers age 16 and over need to have a Minnesota State Ski Pass ($20 for the season or $6 per day). Arrive early to secure passes, find parking, and get fitted for ski equipment.

How are trail conditions for skiing?
Check out Washington County Trail Reports
and Skinny Ski Trail Reports
for the latest info

What should I bring for potluck?
Bring a dinner main or side! We don’t have access to a kitchen, so please bring hot items in a thermos, cold items in a cooler, and be prepared to get creative with food sharing. We cannot use crock pots or other warming devices in the Nordic Center, but camp stoves are welcome outside.

What should I wear? It’s cold out there!
Check out this helpful resource from REI about dressing for cold weather. For more tips about staying warm, dry and comfortable outside in the cold, take a look at this page from The Big Outside. Feel free to bring a change of dry clothes as we will be more active in the afternoon and less active in the evening. There are places in the Nordic Center to change clothes.


Encouraged, but not required. Feel free to drop in and join us—and it would be great to know you are coming! If you have any questions, or to RSVP:

E-mail Jonathan <>
Use our online Contact Form
Link to this event here on Facebook

For map and directions, click here

Nordic Center at Lake Elmo Park Reserve