I was drawn to Afterglow Lake Resort by their incredible social media photo-stream. The intense sunset photography made me think back to shooting Kodachrome slide film and spoke to one of my life-long passions (photography). And it didn’t hurt that their photos feature two Bernese Mountain Dogs along with a Golden Retriever at the lodge to make the images fit into the jigsaw puzzle that represents my memories and daydreams of what an idyllic Northwoods paradise looks like.
Every once and awhile over the last year, mi amigo JP would mention that he was planning on riding his fat-bike up at Afterglow. He always said that the trails there were really nice. After I learned that there were groomed fat-bike trails that are right there on the resort property, I contacted the owners, Pete and Gail Moline to see if a bunch of us could come up and check things out.
Petes’s family bought the land that is now Afterglow in 1948 when the whole property was completely wooded. Afterglow is situated on 250 acres that’s surrounded by the Nicolet National Forest. The resort offers 15 cabins (9 in Winter) for rent on Afterglow Lake. Pete grooms 11 miles of ski trails, skate skiing, and classic tracks. He also grooms (and rides) 5 miles of twisty single track Fat-Bike Trails. There are also 7 miles of snowshoe trails. The resort also offers Ice skating, Broomball, 2 fire pits, Tubing Hill and indoor wreck room with a Sauna and Hot Tub. The weekend that we were there, they also offered a polar plunge! Gail and Pete have been running Afterglow for 29 years.
Afterglow is set on a gorgeous Northwoods stage, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how awesome this place is to visit. It’s the social aspect of the Afterglow experience that’s harder to capture on a website. Gail and Pete are simply the best innkeepers that I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet!
I have to admit that all of my actual “Summer Camp” experience has come from watching movies like Meatballs, Addams Family Values or Dirty Dancing. After surfing the Afterglow Lake Resort social media stream for a full year and seeing all of the photos and videos of family’s having a blast in all four season’s, we decided to plan a winter fat-bike trip up to where Wisconsin borders the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to a place that I think that you’re going to want to visit called Afterglow Lake Resort!
Our crew for the weekend included our friend Kitty – mi hermano de otras mamacitas Adam Blake (along with his blind Pekinese, Agent) – my wife, Bethany and our dog Cowboy. That’s another bonus that’s worth mentioning…Afterglow is pet-friendly! We stayed in cabin #11 with a beautiful view of the lake. I’ve traveled quite a bit and stayed in many different places across the north woods from Lutsen to Whitefish Point. Our cabin was warm and well appointed. It came with a full kitchen, three bedrooms, a big table and a cozy living room with a big picture window that looked directly out over the lake. The lake views created a scenic backdrop for the constant stream of wild birds at the hanging suet cakes and birdfeeders. Afterglow is the kind of place where you’ll never need to leave the resort. After I parked the truck after our arrival on Friday afternoon, we didn’t use it again until we left on Monday Morning.
Saturday morning we all geared up and Pete took us on a tour of his trails. He’d groomed a fresh six inches of snow from the night before. After that ride, we joined a big group of folks in front of the lodge. The Resort holds a weenie roast around a big outdoor fire pit for all of the guests. Some of the guests went tubing and some played broomball or xc skied.
This is some of the social aspects of Afterglow that I mentioned. They offer a variety of activities that are perfect for families with kids of all ages. After some lunch, Adam and I went out and rode while Bethany and Kitty took Cowboy out snowshoeing. That’s the beauty of renting a cabin and staying at the resort. You can get three rides in a day.
The trails at Afterglow are hilly and fun! Pete meticulously grooms those trails and you can see the amount of work that goes into making their trails some of the best groomed trail that I’ve ridden. Where else can you ride sweet groomed singletrack right from your cabin door? After a full day of fun, Gail & Pete host a happy hour in the lodge for all of the guests and they show photos that Pete has taken throughout the day of everyone participating in all of the Afterglow games. After that, Adam went out on a night ride and the rest of us went down to the sauna and hot tub area. Are you familiar with the Smashing Pumpkin’s Song – Today? That was the song that was playing in my head when my head hit the pillow later that night.
Sunday we got up and made cornbread pancakes with fresh blueberries. Adam and the ladies went tubing and I went out for a nice ride. After lunch, Adam and I rode again, while the ladies took Cowboy out for another snowshoe. Adam had to head home, but we all got together and Pete took a group shot of us basking in the sun in front of the main lodge.
After Adam hit the road, Pete took us out on the bikes for a sunset cruise across North Twin Lake to Dublin’s where we met up with Gail and some of their friends for some food and drinks. We capped off another perfect day with some time in the sauna.
Looking back on the time that I spent at Afterglow, I think that this beautiful resort might be one of those ‘hidden gems’ that fat-bikers should visit and experience. I know that we plan to come back with a group of amigos for a weekend next winter. If you’re anywhere near this place you should grab your bike and see what we’re talking about. Day trail passes are only five bucks but if you can swing it, we highly recommend that you reserve a cabin and stay at Afterglow.
For more information about Afterglow Lake Resort visit – http://afterglowresort.com/