Nordic adventures await |

Nordic adventures await

Kent Roberg
Special to The Aspen Times

Nordic skiing, as it is formally known, is believed to have been developed by the Sami culture in the area near the Artic Circle of what is now Norway and Finland more than 4,000 years ago.

Due to the migratory nature of the Sami, it is believed they developed the cross-country ski to aid in the hunting of reindeer in their snow covered climate. The Sami are believed to have passed down the art of skiing to the Vikings. The earliest races date back to the time of the Vikings; history books have recorded races between great kings. One noteworthy race between King Harold and a young man named Heming may be the first upset in sporting ski competition.

Long lift lines and high ticket prices can take the fun and freedom out of downhill skiing. Crowded runs can be frustrating and potentially dangerous. Isn’t the real point to enjoy the beauty of winter in the mountains?

The benefits of Nordic skiing are many. Nordic skiing can give you a great low-impact, high-cardiovascular workout with little stress on the joints. The whole family can enjoy a day outdoors together in some of the most incredible surroundings the Rockies have to offer regardless of experience or skill level.

In the Aspen/Snowmass area, there are many trails within the Aspen/Snowmass Nordic trail system. It echoes back to the origins of Nordic skiing, when trails actually connected towns and the ski was used primarily for winter transportation.

Aspen and Snowmass Village are connected by the Owl Creek Trail. The trail covers nine miles from the Aspen Golf Course/Nordic Center to the Snowmass Club Cross Country Center. Both centers offer lessons, guided tours and retail shops. In either location you will find informed staff and plenty of beginner trails. Both locations are great starting points for short and long excursions alike.

Another popular trail network is located behind Aspen High School, offering intermediate and advanced difficulty and better snow conditions in warmer weather.

The Rio Grande trail is a scenic route which follows the tracks of the historic Rio Grande Railroad. This trail is one of the few in the area that allow dogs, along with a special dog/skier loop at the Aspen Golf Course. If you bring your pooch, carry plastic bags and clean up after them.

For more detailed information on trails in the Aspen/Snowmass area contact the Aspen/Snowmass Nordic Council.