Snows boost Aspen nordic offerings |

Snows boost Aspen nordic offerings

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Camy Hines enjoys the freshly groomed nordic trails at the Aspen golf course Thursday.

ASPEN – Downhill enthusiasts aren’t boasting the only smiling faces this week. Wednesday’s snow and cold temperatures gave a boost to local cross-country skiing opportunities, though the bulk of the Aspen-Snowmass trail system has yet to open.

In the midvalley, Basalt-area nordic skiers will have access to two new loops this season, as soon as conditions allow crews to set track.

Classic track has been added to what had previously been only a corduroy skate loop at the Aspen golf course, where the cross-country center in the clubhouse opened for the season Thursday. A teaching loop is also available for both classic and skate skiing, and groomers got to work on the Bernese Boulevard dog loop on the golf course perimeter after this week’s snows.

Skiers will also find classic and skate loops set at the high school, where thin conditions early in the week have improved a bit with the latest snowfall.

The Snowmass Cross Country Center is scheduled to open Dec. 11, but watch for crews to begin packing track there.

Out at Ashcroft Ski Touring south of Aspen, limited set track was expected for this weekend, along with discounted ski rates. Ashcroft will be closed on Mondays through Wednesdays until mid-December, when its season gets into full swing.

The Aspen-Snowmass system, which is free to use, may have to add Basalt to its name soon.

The Pitkin County Open Space and Trails board of trustees recently agreed to a plan to set a nordic loop on the newly acquired Downey Open Space, formerly the site of the proposed Sopris Chase development, just west of Basalt High School. It will come in addition to a loop groomers began setting last year on the school property.

And, the Aspen-Snowmass trail crew will take over the grooming of a loop on the Roaring Fork Club golf course in Basalt, as well.

The club was to provide nordic skiing – for Basalt residents – on its property as part of its development approval, but that effort has been spotty at best in past seasons.

A trial run this winter will turn responsibility for grooming over to the Aspen-Snowmass program. A 3-kilometer loop that is open to all skiers, regardless of Basalt residency, will be set off the Rio Grande Trail, which is also groomed for nordic skiing.

“The amount of skiing there, with the high school, Sopris Chase and now the Roaring Fork Club – it’s going to be a lot of trail,” said Gary Tennenbaum, Open Space and Trails land steward.

Go to for a daily grooming report and other nordic information, or call the Nordic Hotline at (970) 429-2039.