Breaking new trail | SteamboatToday.com

Breaking new trail

After requests from residents, Stagecoach State Park opens cross-country ski trail

Alexis DeLaCruz

Kris Wahlers, senior ranger at Stagecoach State Park, drags a flat rubber mat behind a snowmobile to groom the new cross-country ski trails at Stagecoach Reservoir.

Ice fishing has been a popular Stagecoach Reservoir winter activity for years. Many snowshoers know the trails around the reservoir are excellent this time of year, and even brave winter campers know the reservoir always provides a place to pitch a tent and enjoy a warm fire.

Now there’s a new winter activity to add to those already popular in Stagecoach – cross-county skiing.

Kris Wahlers, a senior park ranger at Stagecoach State Park, said a 2 1/2-mile stretch of trail has been created for Nordic skiers near the entrance of the park. The trail parallels Routt County Road 14 before ending near C.R. 16.

“The tremendous population increase in this area combined with the desire for an easily accessible area to practice the sport and our desire to provide an opportunity for winter outdoor recreation makes for a win-win situation,” he said.

Wahlers demonstrated Thursday how the trails are groomed. All it takes, he said, is a snowmobile, some PVC pipe, a rubber mat and some rope.

“It’s pretty simple for now,” he said.

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The idea for the trails was presented to park officials last year by Stagecoach residents. Now that the trail is in place, Wahlers expects it to alleviate some of the conflicts between the joggers, skiers, snowshoers and dog walkers who use the same trails.

“There’s always somebody out here, especially on the weekends,” he said.

The lack of snow so far this winter hasn’t affected recreation opportunities at Stagecoach, Wahlers said.

“It’s been slow so far, but we’ve definitely had more people out here this year than we did last year,” he said. “And you couldn’t beat the snow last year.”

Whalers said he has been talking to officials from the Steamboat Springs Nordic Center of the Rockies about maintaining and extending the new Nordic trail.

“I’m a complete novice when it comes to this,” he said.

In addition to the 2 1/2-mile Nordic trail, Wahlers hopes to extend trails on the reservoir’s south shore to accommodate skate-skiing.

“When the ice sets up more, we’re looking to add another trail (on the south shore) and near the dam,” he said.

Although there are many places in Routt County to cross-country ski, there is no place like Stagecoach, Wahlers said.

“Right now, it’s someplace new,” he said. “For our Stagecoach residents, it’s right in their backyard.”

Nordic skiers can access the trail with the $5 daily pass required for entrance to the park. The trail begins about one-half mile past the entrance to the park on the right side of the road.

For more information or a trail map, call Whalers at 736-2436 or visit the Stagecoach Park Office.

– To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com