Peninsula ski trails ready for action

Posted: Friday, January 21, 2005

With Tsalteshi Trails set to host Besh Cup races on Saturday and Sunday, recreational skiers may want check out the trails across the Sterling Highway on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge for a change of pace.

"I'll be spot-grooming, but the trails are still in really good shape," said refuge ranger Scott Slavik.

In addition to the Nordic Lake loops and the Centennial Trail, Slavik said there is now a 2-mile trail groomed on Headquarters Lake.

Slavik said the refuge trails have been getting quite a bit of use but are holding up well, with a nice packed-powder surface.

Another alternative is the 5-kilometer loop being maintained at the Scout Lake State Recreation Site in Sterling. The state park is located just off Scout Lake Road off the Sterling Highway.

"It's a nice little trail," said Allan Miller, who has been grooming a trail there for the past three winters.

Miller described the terrain as intermediate with some good climbs. The trail is fairly narrow, which can make some of the twists and turns difficult, especially on downhills.

Miller said his young children enjoy classical skiing on the loop, and the state recreation site is open to anyone who would like to give the loop a try. The trail also connects with a 3-kilometer loop on Scout Lake.

"It would be a shame to be greedy and just use it for myself," Miller said.

In Kenai, Parks and Recreation Department grounds-keeper Micah Rogers was planning to spend some time today grooming the Kenai Nordic Trails in anticipation of a middle school ski meet this weekend.

In Homer, Dave Brann of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club said conditions have improved since last week, though a little more snow will help.

"If we get even a couple of inches of snow, that will really change things," Brann said.

Brann said that at Baycrest, about 20 kilometers of trail are in good condition, though snow is not yet deep enough to set classical tracks.

While Lookout Mountain had not been groomed earlier this week, a junior Nordic program gets started there this weekend.

At McNeil Canyon, Brann described the 7.5-kilometer loop as "pretty good skiing. It's still granular, crusty snow, but it's been groomed enough that it's smooth."

Tracks are set at McNeil, and Brann said a 7.5-kilometer classic loop that goes out to the Eveline State Recreation Site has been added.

Upcoming events in Homer include a Ski for Women, sponsored by Peninsula Women's Services, on Feb. 6.

A "She Can Ski" event at Tsalteshi Trails to benefit the LeeShore Center also is scheduled for Feb. 6.

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