Region Abounds With Convenient Trails In Our Backyard
The prospects of more snow and the recent surge in Artic weather could provide a boost for local snowshoe and cross-country skiers, especially as we approach the prime of late winter/early spring blasts.
Luckily, the local area serves as one of the best kept secrets in Colorado for those who want to stretch their Nordic legs right in their backyard and avoid wallet-bursting prices that confront skiers at major resorts.
Teller County has some great places for snowshoeing, one of the fastest growing winter sports due to some great equipment enhancements, and cross-country skiing, when conditions are right. Plus, you don’t have to deal with big crowds that often populate other Nordic centers.
Perhaps the most well-known place to get your winter sports fix is Mueller State Park, located just south of Divide, off Hwy. 67. As of last week, the snow report indicated that ski trails were groomed and that skiing and snowshoeing are doable. Deeper snow is located off trail and in the shade, according to the report with some bare spots.
The park is open year round, and in winter and early spring serves as a great place to cross-country ski, and snowshoe. Almost any trail in Mueller State Park makes for good snowshoeing or cross country skiing.
Most trails are short but it’s easy to create your own route by joining trails together. Do be aware that many of these trails start on a ridge and go down from there. Be sure you have the skill and stamina to climb back to your car.
Rangers recommend you visit the visitor’s center for maps and information on current snow conditions. You can also call the visitor’s center at: (719) 687-2366 for current conditions. Entrance fees do apply.
Another nearby spot that should be excellent this time of year is the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, located off Teller One. This offers a number of good snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails. Compared to Mueller, the Fossil Beds offers more sunnier options.
The Shootin’ Star and Twin Rock Trails are very popular and make for an easy six-mile round trip trek. Stop in the visitor’s center for up-to-date information on trail conditions. Entrance fees do apply.
The Crags, located just south of Divide, is another place cross country sliders/snowshoe fans can find to spend a day enjoying the silence of winter. With the recent heavy snows we’ve had, the Crags road is likely closed at the Mennonite Camp, so you’ll have to ski/shoe the road to get to the trail head. But if you can take this excursion, it is well worth it as the Crags features some of the best conditions for Nordic buffs this time of year
Hardcore Excursions and Venturing Outside of Teller County
If you’re hard core and are experienced, Pancake Rocks and Horsethief Park will get your heart pumping. The trails start at 9,7000 feet elevation and go up from there. After parking at the tunnel lot on Hwy. 67, you’re greeted with a step two-track trail right out of the chute. From there, the trail becomes gentler for a while. If you chose the Pancake Rocks option, be prepared for more serious climbing, but the reward on top is worth the effort. The views are spectacular.
If you don’t mind driving a little farther, there are other Nordic centers scattered around the state. The closest to Woodland Park is Breckenridge Nordic Center. With natural snow and snow-making capabilities, it’s easy to find freshly groomed snow at Breckenridge Nordic Center for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The center even has guided snowshoe adventures and Nordic ski lessons to help you get your snow legs before hitting the trails on your own.
Other Nordic centers around the state include: Crested Butte Nordic Center, Keystone Nordic Center, Vail Nordic Center, Aspen/Snowmass Nordic Center, Tennessee Pass Nordic Center, Frisco Nordic Center, Neversummer Nordic Center, Vista Verde Ranch, Winter Park Snowshoe Tour Center, Sunlight Mountain Resort, Steamboat Springs Ski Touring Center, Eldora Mountain Resort, Ski Granby Ranch Nordic Trails, Purgatory (formerly Durango Mountain Resort), Beaver Creek Nordic Center, Grand Lake Nordic Center, and Crown Mountain Park. Google any of these places for more information and fees.