Oak Creek formalizes partnership with Rossi Ranches for skate ski trail loop

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— By Saturday’s Holly Festival, the couple of miles of skate ski track on Oak Creek’s southern edge will get its first pass of the groomer this season.

South Routt County residents will be heading to downtown Oak Creek for scavenger hunts, Santa Claus photos and a tree lighting ceremony, but plenty of cross-country skiers also will be enjoying the third year of the partnership between Rossi Ranches and Oak Creek that created the trail loop.

The groomed track is free to the public, and the town now has stationed a shed at the end of Bell Avenue where donated gear is stored for people to use.

In addition to providing the trail for regular cross-country skiers, the town wanted to create access for those who might not otherwise get introduced to the sport, according to Oak Creek Mayor Nikki Knoebel.

It started with a grant request to LiveWell Northwest Colorado for a groomer to tow behind a snowmobile.

The town tried to create a track in Decker Park, Knoebel said, but the track wasn’t big enough. It was Oak Creek public works employee Stu Hassell who originally approached Dean and Jim Rossi about using their land, she said.

“We pretty much shut that place down in the winter time,” Dean Rossi said about the hay meadow just south of the town where the cross-country track is now located.

Operating with little more than a handshake in the first year, Rossi Ranches and Oak Creek now have drawn up a lease agreement that the Town Board will consider Thursday.

The lease outlines details for the use of the land, liability and the payment of $1.

“Last year was the first year we did it for a full winter,” Knoebel said about maintaining the trails. This year, she said, the track might see more rise and fall.

“I saw so many people use it last year,” she said.

The town is lucky that the Rossis have been happy with how the use of the property has gone the past couple years, Knoebel added.

“We had a lot of comments from people that they enjoyed it,” Dean Rossi said.

The access for the trail loop is the gate at the end of Bell Avenue.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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