Mt. Telemark Village is a place where we disconnect (from the virtual world we often live in). A place where we connect (with each other and with the natural world). Year-round trails. Ski trails for all levels and all seasons – with snowmaking and rollerski trails. Mountain bike trails for all levels and all seasons, including cross country and downhill trails. Hiking trails and an observation tower. A biathlon range and an ice skating pond. And a welcome center building that everything is centered around, complete with a coffee shop, rentals and a museum to honor the past. This is Mt. Telemark Village! Be part of the Village!
Mt. Telemark Village Master Plan Map
The Story of Mt. Telemark Village
In 2020 the ABSF purchased Telemark – 798 acres of land that was formerly Telemark Resort. Thus begin the story of the new Telemark Village – our most ambitious and important project to date. The next year we partnered with Landmark Conservancy to establish a 218 acre conservancy, and the Birkie put another 286 acres into its own conservancy – permanently protecting this precious land for future generations. We demolished the old lodge and readied the site for new development.
At the same time, we worked with LHB Architects to put together a vision for the new Mount Telemark Village: A world class trail center anchored by a new Base Camp building- complete with a rollerski loop, cross country trails with snowmaking, biathlon, mountain bike cross country and enduro mountain bike trails, an observation tower, and, on the site of the old lodge, our new “Lobby Plaza.” All this together with private investment, including a New Moon Bike & Ski Shop, a motel/inn, a Backroads Coffee Shop, a restaurant, and more.
This is a $10.2 Million project for the Birkie. We are well on the way there. But the Birkie is no more than a collection of its members, participants, and friends. And to raise this village we need our village! As we approach the fiftieth anniversary this is our legacy to the future!
The Case for Telemark Village
There is something special about the American Birkebeiner. Year after year people make pilgrimages from around the country and the world to take part in the big event. We ski 30+ miles over incredibly challenging terrain. We ski in snowstorms. We ski in frigid cold. And we do it together.
We know there is something special about this pilgrimage. It is almost spiritual in nature. Yes, it is difficult. But we know that there is something about the difficulty and the challenge that gives our lives purpose and meaning and that brings us together in a way that almost nothing else in the world can. Almost like a religion, we want to share this specialness, this spirituality, with the rest of the world.
We know that – precisely because of the challenging nature of our lifestyle – it can be difficult to bring people into the fold. Indeed, our job is not to bring people in out of the cold – it is precisely the opposite – we are literally asking people to join us in the cold. Part of the appeal of the lifestyle is the quiet found during a day on the trail in the backwoods. But that is not the place to start on the journey. If we want to grow our sport and our lifestyle, and invite more people in, we need to provide a place that brings it all together, so that a beginner – who is not yet familiar with our calculus of challenge and difficulty – is more likely too take that first step on their own journey to the Birkie Spirit.
And that is what the campaign for Telemark Village is all about.
Take the old Telemark property and create a hub for year-round activities . . .
- All kinds of mountain trails. Cross country trails. Downhill trails. Competition trails. Fat bike trails. Learning areas.
- All kinds of ski trails. Beginner trails. Trails with a view. Competition trails. State-of-the-art snowmaking capabilities.
- A biathlon range.
- A paved trail for biking and rollerskiing. A sledding hill. Children’s play and strength areas. Picnic areas.
- Hiking trails, including an observation tower to take it all in.
- And a building that acts as the jumping-off point. A building that is focused not on itself – but on the breathtaking beauty and the opportunities for activities that surround the building. The point of the building is to provide a welcoming, accommodating launching pad into the outdoors – or to celebrate in front of the fire or on the patio when finished.
- Embrace sustainability, not only from an environmental standpoint, but financially and operationally so it is here for generations to come
Sure, there are mountain bike trails at downhill areas around the country. There are ski trails and chalets around the north woods. There are roads to rollerski on, and there are a few scattered biathlon ranges here and there. But, like the Birkebeiner itself, Telemark Village is designed to bring us all together. This is a place where beginners will feel welcomed. Even if they’ve never stood on skis, they can come to rent and learn in an inclusive environment. Of course, it’s also the place where masters-level skiers and bikers can launch epic adventures and test their skills in competition. For the highest level athletes, Telemark Village will serve as the homebase to train and compete at a national and even an international level.
The Birkebeiner has big ambitions around sharing our passion for the outdoors across cultural and socio-economic lines – embodied by the Birkie One Campaign. For instance, youth from the Lac Courtes Oreilles reservation have been skiing at the Birkie start area. The Birkie would love to run camps for youth from across the region. But there is no place for all that now. Bringing all of the activities together, complete with a jumping-off-point with rentals, demo gear and a coffee shop will allow the Birkie to really make big inroads in this department.
In the end, this idea of sharing the Birkie lifestyle is critical to the future of the outdoor-active ethos and the organization itself. Our population is aging. Young people are growing up in a world of TikTok and Instagram. Asking them to start skiing or biking on a trail in the woods where there may not even be connectivity is probably not realistic. Telemark Village represents an opportunity to bridge that gap – so that we can attract young people and people of different backgrounds into skiing and biking and enjoying endurance-based outdoor activities throughout the year.
And then, from a purely practical perspective, this project is key to the sustainability of the Foundation itself. Since Telemark Lodge and the surrounding facilities went away, the Birkie has been operating more and more events out of tents and trailers. Costly from both a financial and human perspective.
As the Birkie approaches its fiftieth anniversary, Telemark Village is our opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for the next generation so that we invite more people in, bring more people together, secure this special land forever, and leave a thriving and sustainable Birkie Foundation for future generations to enjoy.
Help us build this unique world class facility! Help us create the modern version of Telemark! Help us bridge the gap to the 21st Century and create a destination that ensures our future!