Fresh snow fluffs up ski opportunities

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2001

An early Thursday morning snowfall on the Kenai Peninsula freshened up the trails for the weekend, according to area groomers.

"Thank goodness we finally got some snow," said Bob Frates, the director of the city of Kenai Parks and Recreation Department. "First of all, it gives us the ability to set tracks.

"Then, it also gave us a little more to work with. It had started to get thin in a couple of areas."

The Kenai Nordic Trails, located on the Kenai Golf Course on Lawton Drive, have about 5 kilometers ready for skating. Frates said he expects classical tracks to be set for the weekend.

The trails are mostly easy, except for a few hills.

Nikiski also got a few inches out of the Thursday morning snowfall, and Dale Bakk was out molding those inches Thursday afternoon.

The trails behind the Nikiski pool, which are 3 kilometers of mostly easy skiing, are groomed for skating and for classical skiing.

The Nikiski Community Trails, located in the parking lot of Nikiski Middle-Senior High School, also are groomed for skating, with some classical tracks.

Those trails are 5.5 kilometers long and are moderately difficult, with a few challenging hills.

At Tsalteshi Trails, located behind Skyview High School, the skiing has been holding up thanks to snowfalls like the one on Thursday morning.

"When we get a few inches, that helps quite a bit," said Bill Holt, the vice chair of the Tsalteshi Trails Association. "It helps smooth out the dips."

The Tsalteshi system has about 11 kilometers of trail ready for classical and skate skiing. The trails are of all difficulties.

Across the street at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, the trails have yet to be groomed. Sandy Groth, a budget technician at the refuge, said the trails could be groomed for the weekend.

In Seward, Rich Houghton, the ski coach at Seward High School, said the only trail skiing is at Exit Glacier Road, located at about Mile 5 of the Seward Highway.

The trail on the road, which is 8 miles one way, is groomed mostly for skating.

Houghton also said there will be a ski swap Saturday at the high school cafeteria from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Drop-off time for skis is from 8 to 10 a.m.

There also will be an avalanche awareness class Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the high school theater. For more information, contact Houghton at 224-3351.

In Homer, Dave Brann, who is on the board of the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, said there is skiing at Lookout Mountain and at the Baycrest Ski Trails. McNeil Canyon is not yet skiable.

There is excellent skiing at Lookout Mountain, located on Ohlson Mountain Road in Homer. The high school ski team has been working out there, so it is groomed with a Pisten Bully regularly. There are 4 kilometers for skating and 3 kilometers for classical skiing. The trails there are mostly flat.

The groomers at Lookout remind skiers to stay away from the Pisten Bully while it is running. Also, groomers request that skiers stay out of the classical tracks when they are freshly set. Skiing in freshly set classical tracks breaks them down.

The Baycrest Ski Trails also have some nice skating, although in some areas there are still sticks, twigs and grass sticking up on the trail.

The trail head is located on Roger's Loop Road, which is on the Sterling Highway just before the big dip heading into Homer.

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