Thursday, January 3, 2013

Free cross-country ski day on Saturday is a great opportunity to learn how to xc ski or snowshoe

If she can do it, you can too! Snowshoeing is easy! Poles help with balance. 
Cross-country skiing is fun!
Wendy skis the dog loop at Ponderosa State Park 
Cross-country skiers get some pointers
(Note: The IDPR web site is down Thursday, Jan. 3 all day. It is supposed to be back online by 7 p.m. tonight. Sorry about that.) 

Hi all,

Happy New Year! This week's tip focuses on free cross-country ski/snowshoe day Saturday, Jan. 5, at participating Nordic facilities in Idaho.

The whole purpose of the annual event is to provide an incentive for newbies to get into cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Let me give you some reasons to go:

  • It's free! In some cases, equipment rentals and lessons are free! Can't beat that! See below.
  • Get out of the freezing temperatures and inversion in the Boise Valley, enjoy some sunshine and get some exercise cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. 
  • The basic cross-country skiing technique is pretty easy to learn. Snowshoeing is even easier. Skate skiing is harder to learn but a lot like ice skating if you already know how to do that. Anyone who can walk can learn to snowshoe. Just strap on the skis or snowshoes and go! 
  • Snowshoeing is very similar to going for a hike. If you like to hike, you should get into snowshoeing, so you can go hiking in the snow in the winter.
  • Southwest Idaho has a number of great places to go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Participating Nordic facilities on Saturday are the Idaho City Park n' Ski Areas, north of Idaho City, Cabarton Trails near Cascade, and Ponderosa State Park.  
"We're looking forward to it," says Theresa Perry, Lake Cascade State Park manager. "Learn to Ski Day is always a festive event and lots of fun."

Lake Cascade State Park is teaming up with the South Valley County Recreation District, Trinity Pines and Tamarack Resort to offer free equipment and cross-country skiing and snowshoe lessons on the Cabarton Trails at the Hasbrouck Ranch. The fun begins at 11 a.m. and runs to 2:30 p.m. To get there, take Idaho 55 about 75 miles north of Boise, past Round Valley, and turn left on Cabarton Road across from the Clear Creek Lodge. There is a beginner loop for folks who are just starting out, plus 5 miles of groomed trails, and other self-guided trails (no grooming), that you can check out.

In McCall, Ponderosa State Park also is providing free equipment and lessons from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m . Gravity Sports and Hometown Sports are providing cross-country ski equipment and lessons, and the McCall Outdoor Science School is providing guided snowshoe tours and lessons. So if you're in the 'hood, be sure to take advantage of this great opportunity to learn. All parking fees and trail fees will be waived for the day.

On Saturday, the trail fees are waived in the Idaho City Park n' Ski Areas, north of Idaho City, meaning you can explore 56 miles of trails in the Park n' Ski system; 26 of them are groomed for skiing. The easiest place to start is Gold Fork, located on the left side of Idaho State Highway 21 about 1.5 hours from Boise.

If you go to the Park n' Ski areas, be sure to rent some cross-country or snowshoe equipment at Idaho Mountain Touring or Boise REI.

Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation officials will be at the Gold Fork parking lot ready to answer any questions and provide information about ski and snowshoe trails in the vicinity. Here's a map of the trail system and yurts. IDPR folks also will be manning the Rocky Ridge and Skyline yurts and serving free hot chocolate for people who stop by. Free hot chocolate also will be available at the Banner Ridge trailhead.

The Rocky Ridge yurt is located 1.4 miles from the Whoop-Um-Up parking lot. There is a marked snowshoe trail leading to the yurt. Skyline yurt is 2 miles from the Gold Fork parking lot. The trail to Skyline is suitable for skate skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. It's rated "more difficult" because it's a continuous uphill grade Skyline. Dogs are allowed on the trails in the Gold Fork area but they're not allowed on the Banner Ridge trails.

Have fun!
- SS

Steve shares his weekly outdoor tips with Ken and Tim on 94.9 FM The River each Friday morning in Boise at approximately 7:10 a.m. If you miss the program, you can hear the segments on River Detailed descriptions and color maps of Steve's hikes, bike rides and paddling trips are available for 99 cents each at, plus the full ebooks and hard-copy guidebooks.