The Lollipop is a cross-county ski/snowshoe trail near Fish Lake. The designated loop covers nearly 7 miles from the Fish Lake Sno-Park, just down the road from the Fish Lake Resort. On previous outings we parked at the sno-park, but this time we paid the $5 parking fee at the resort, partly to cut off some distance but, even more, to be closer to the lodge for a post-outing cup of hot chocolate or coffee, or piece of pie.
Food wasn’t on our minds as we headed out, following a trail — known as “stem” of the Lollipop — that’s also used by snowmobiles. It’s less than a mile to snow-covered Road 900, another junction with a sign, Lollipop Loop. As a sign indicates, trails along the loop are closed to motorized vehicles.
From the open gate we skied ahead. Half of us were on skis, half on snowshoes. Other times on the trail we’ve continued up the Lollipop past the junction that takes the Lollipop clockwise. But this time we angled left at the junction, climbing steadily up what’s described as the steepest part of the trail. It’s a scenic section, one that carves through thickly forested areas winter-coated with thick frosty layers of branch-bending snow and on clear days provides views of Mount McLoughlin. At one point, we paused while the lead skier whapped a thickly covered branch that blocked the trail. The slap with his ski pole sent the snow flying down and the snow-freed branch whipping skyward.
“Only about another quarter-mile” was the common reply when Gary, who had suggested the Lollipop Trail, was asked about the distance to the next clearing, junction or eventually, what proved to be our turnaround point. And, after what seemed like several quarter-miles, we reached the top of the Lollipop loop, about three miles from the lodge. Other days we’ve licked the Lollipop, staying on the designated route or sometimes forking off lickety-split on bisecting trails, including Candy Cain, Suckers Alley and Peppermint. When Fish Lake has been frozen, we’ve added another deliciously named trail, Jellybean.
On days when the Lollipop Trail has been previously skied or only had a light dusting, the 370-foot elevation gain from the lodge seems insignificant. But this day sinking into the deep snow was a workout. Instead of skiing the entire loop, we decided to double-back after a brief rest and quick snacks. But, shivering with frozen fingers, instead of pausing, two of us opted to keep moving and headed back to the parking lot and lodge. In contrast to plodding up untouched snow, we glided along in the newly made, compacted tracks.
It proved a good choice. When we regathered at the lodge’s Tadpole Café, most of the others warmed up with hot coffee or soup. But because I hadn’t stopped to unwrap my turkey and cheese wrap at the turnaround, I ordered lunch. My legs were fried so the curly fried potatoes were deliciously appropriate. And, although I hadn’t finished the Lollipop, I eagerly finished my finger-licking good freshly grilled mushroom swiss hamburger.