We did it last year in the middle of a pandemic! Grand Nordic’s 8th Annual Ranch2Ranch Nordic Trek in 2021 was definitely as safe as it could be. Participants were spread out in half hour slots both days. Sending those people out into the wind and driving snow seemed almost cruel but those people were dressed for the weather and were determined to ski that 12 km distance from Granby Ranch to Snow Mountain Ranch to prove to themselves that they COULD DO IT. The scenery along the way was incredible and participants could turn around somewhere on the course and decide their own distance to be covered. There were aid stations, medical personnel, a good track, and other skiers – what better conditions to test yourself…
The wind was harsh last year but who has a crystal ball to see what the weather will be like Feb 12 and 13 for the 9th Annual Trek? We know we have lots of snow – get off the track and dive into almost bottomless powder in many places. We know we have a well-packed route beautiful for either classic or skate skiing. Snowshoers are even welcome but please stay off the classic track. We have the aid stations, Brian Mtn Nordic patrol, and lots of people already signed up so join one of the four waves and enjoy the scenery. Sunday has more open space than Saturday so pull up www.grandnordic.org and sign up!
Grand County has many areas where you can Nordic ski for free. Headwaters Trails Alliance and Mountain States Snowcats groom many dog-friendly areas inside or close to Winter Park, Fraser, and Granby as well as trails connecting those areas. One of my favorites is the Lunch Loop around the ponds between Fraser and Granby that you can enter from the Safeway Center. Drive past the Thrift Store and park in back. The trail starts beside Local Experience just in case you forgot some of your gear! The trail loops down the highway side of the wetlands and ponds with several spots to cut through to the other side. Ski or walk behind the fire station and City-Wide Bank up to the road into Rendezvous where a bridge brings you to the beautiful River Trail. Circle back down to the Safeway Center for a round trip of about 1 ½ hours depending on how fast you are.
This loop is a part of the trail system that starts at Trademark next to Winter Park Resort and rolls gently down to the town of Winter Park through the forest along the river, going under Hwy 40 and into town. New construction is causing detours but you can work your way over to the river trail or access a larger loop around Rendezvous, but make your way down the Fraser River Trail to the Safeway Center, then cross at the light to the river trail to Cty Rd 8 and on to the Fraser Sports Complex. Loops are groomed in the ballfields or continue on to Tabernash via the Fraser to Granby Trail behind the Icebox Ice Rink. After crossing the bluff, pick your way out Sunnyside Road, thru Tabernash, and out to 5221 where the F-G winds up the valley through prime beaver habitat along Hwy 40 to the YMCA. Cross under Hwy 40 at Tim’s Tunnel and along a beautiful creek and up the winter trail over to the Granby Ranch Resort. There are winter habitat closures so you can go to the City Market traffic light and go back through the golf course into Kaibab Park and Granby.
Other spots are everywhere! Turning off Hwy 40 at the light at the Pub, try Leland Creek up toward WTB and D2. You can head over to Elk Creek and then connect to the roads in St Louis Creek which are also accessible from the Experimental Forest Road. Each road seems to have a trail head or lead to one in the valley nestled around Winter Park, Fraser, Tabernash, and Granby. Ski the waterboard roads packed by snowmobiles, Corona Pass railroad grade, go up Vasquez, Tunnel Hill, Blue Sky – they are all fantastic skiing but don’t expect a groomed track like featured at Snow Mtn Ranch or Devils Thumb, just rolled terrain and access points into the mountains surrounding our Fraser Valley.
Above all be aware that this is multi-use so expect snowmobiles, dogs, other critters and more. Be courteous! Check information on www.Skigrandnordic.org, HTA Facebook page, Cotrails, and Chambers of Commerce. Be safe and carry water, extra food, and other essentials. Above all – TELL SOMEONE WHERE YOU ARE GOING!