Skiers welcome snowfall

Posted: Friday, January 12, 2001

Slowly but surely, decent cross-country skiing is coming to the Kenai Peninsula.

Excellent skiing already is available in Seward and Homer, while this week's snowfall has brought marginal skiing to some areas on the central peninsula.

In Seward, Seward Nordic Ski Club president Dennis Perry said 2 feet of snow this week at the Mile 12 Ski Trails has allowed groomers to mold the trails into top shape.

Perry said he groomed the trails, located at Mile 12 of the Seward Highway, Wednesday with a Pisten Bully. He extended the trails into the powerline meadow, meaning there are now five kilometers available for skate or classical skiing.

Conditions also are improving at Exit Glacier Road in Seward, with about 10 inches of snow on top of a sheet of ice. Exit Glacier Road is six or seven miles one way.

Finally, Perry said there is enough snow for grooming at Glacier Creek. He expects those trails to be groomed this weekend.

Glacier Creek is located off Lake Drive at Mile 6 of the Seward Highway. Once groomed, it should have five or six kilometers of mostly flat skiing.

In Homer, Dave Brann, vice president of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, said good skiing is now available at Lookout Mountain and at McNeil Canyon Ski Trails. Baycrest still is not skiable.

McNeil Canyon, located in the parking lot of McNeil Canyon Elementary School 12 miles out East End Road, has seven and a half kilometers groomed for skating.

McNeil Canyon has short loops suitable for beginners and longer loops with significant hills to challenge advanced skiers.

Lookout Mountain, located on Ohlson Mountain Road, has a two-and-a-half-kilometer loop set for skiing. After this Saturday, the trail should be set up for classical and skate skiing.

Lookout Mountain's trails are mostly flat.

Here on the central peninsula, most groomers are reporting that the trails need between 6 inches and 1 foot of snow to become skiable.

With snow coming down in moderate amounts Wednesday morning and afternoon, optimism was running high.

"We don't have skiing yet," said Bob Frates, director of the city of Kenai Parks and Recreation Department, of the Kenai Nordic Trails. "Looking out the window, though, it looks like we might be getting some snow.

"There's a distinct possibility we might be rolling before too long."

Frates said if 5 or 6 inches of snow hit the area, the trails might be worth checking out. The Kenai Nordic Trails are located on the Kenai Golf Course.

Dale Bakk, who grooms the trails behind the Nikiski Pool and the Nikiski Community Trails, also said one more snowfall is needed before those trails will be skiable. The Nikiski Community Trails are located at Nikiski Middle-Senior High School.

The situation is similar at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, where Brenda Wise, refuge clerk, said a thin snow cover is making skiing "hazardous."

One central peninsula system that is managing to cobble out some skiing is Tsalteshi Trails, located behind Skyview High School.

"Right now, there's a thin layer of snow covering the ice," said Penny McClain of the Tsalteshi Trails Association. "Trail conditions are good, but a little icy on the corners.

"They're good for classic or skate, although there are no classic tracks set. Be careful, but it's good."

Tsalteshi has seven and a half kilometers groomed. The trails range from easy near the trail head to difficult on extended loops away from the trail head.

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