Stompin' Grounds is riders' destination
Smack dab in the middle of 100 miles of trails through the Paul Bunyan State Forest, one Hubbard County resort isn't pulling docks this fall, but it is building on.
"It's always a work in progress up here," said Connie Werner, co-owner of the Stompin' Grounds Lodge & Camping resort.
Eight years into its stewardship, the Werners saw their worst winter and best summer, back-to-back. They're hoping for snow.
"We only had one weekend where we had riders," Connie Werner said of the miserable winter.
For now the trails are bursting with riders on two and four wheels and four legs.
The resort north of Akeley on Highway 64 caters to ATV riders, motorcyclists and dirt bikes, along with snowmobiles.
Last weekend the Paul Bunyan Trail Riders, a dirt bike club, used the resort as a launch pad. Two weeks ago it was the home club Timberland Dirt Devils.
"Last weekend it was 80 degrees," laughed club leader Dusty Strickland, bundled up against the cold.
Customers gathered inside the resort for a day of adventure. When asked which route they'd be taking, one said, "Oh, I don't know. He (Dusty) just puts a finger in the air and we go."
The groups are flexible like that.
Rows and rows of trailers line the campgrounds outside, a testament to the booming business all-terrain vehicles have become.
"We don't have any lakefront" so it's not a fishing camp, Werner said.
Ten of the campsites are equipped with water and electricity. Fourteen more are being converted.
The clubhouse offers meals that include breakfast in the summer.
Those services ended last weekend.
"We have burgers, sandwiches, deep-fried foods, seafood, reubens," she said. "Kind of a simple menu. We do specials every once in awhile.
"A lot of people don't even know we have breakfasts," she added. "It's kind of a campground thing. We do get some locals. It's just a little way to drive."
There's a trail ride or two almost every weekend, which keeps the Stompin' Grounds hoppin.'
Although the facility could cater to larger groups, the Werners are mindful of their guests.
"We try not to do much," Connie said. "We've tried a few bands outside but not too much because some people want it quiet when they camp. It's not a quiet campground. We have to try and keep it down a little bit."
The rumble of a line of ATVs outside adds emphasis to her remarks.
The clubhouse employs seven part-timers to keep the operations running. In addition to the food service, it offers on- and off-sale alcoholic beverages.
One of the resort's advantages is that guests can access the 100 miles of trails directly from the campground without having to go into town.
"More and more people are finding this forest and people don't know what the tourists bring," Werner said of her recipe for success.