It’s the first week of spring here in Colorado and we’ve had a wide range of weather to help us celebrate. With the blizzard behind us and warm weather in the forecast, this weekend could be a perfect time to plan a trip to the mountains.
The beauty of cross country skiing is being able to enjoy it wherever you want. Whether you rent or buy skis, you can avoid costly lift tickets and crowds by choosing one of your favorite tree-filled spots. If you prefer the resort with groomed trails, there are plenty of options that don’t involve a big investment, massive crowds, or bumper-to-bumper traffic. (Devil’s Thumb Ranch is one of our favorite!) But that’s a story for another day.
Mount Evans Road
Distance: 2.9 miles each way
Elevation Gain: 856 feet
Mount Evans is a popular destination in the summer for those who want to enjoy panoramic views of the Front Range. Though the road closes from Labor Day (weather dependent) until Memorial weekend every year, only a fraction of visitors recognize the potential for winter activities. When the road closes for the winter it is the perfect landscape for snowshoeing or cross country skiing once there is a good base of snow. You can climb up the hill as far as you want and then enjoy a nice slow downhill cruise on the way back to your car. If you want to get a warm up in before heading up the hill, do a loop around Echo Lake at the base of Mount Evans Road.
Distance: 5.3 miles each way
Elevation Gain: 834 feet
Located in the heart of the Fraser Experimental Forest, this wide trail makes for a pleasant journey through the forest. Some of the best and most plentiful snowfall found in Colorado, this area has great skiing well into spring. Since snowmobiles are not allowed on the trail, you can relax and enjoy the day without worrying about bumping into your motorized counterparts.
Distance: 2.2 miles each way
Elevation Gain: 85 feet
The drive to this spot offers beautiful scenery as you journey through Poudre Canyon on the way up to Cameron Pass, but the real treat comes from the trail when you spot the rugged Nokhu Crags and the Diamond Peaks to the northwest. This trail is great for all levels as the elevation gain is minimal but it allows you to carry on to other trails if you choose to extend your adventure.
Mitchell Creek Loop
Distance: 7.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 860 feet
Enjoy unrivaled views of Chicago Ridge and the Continental Divide from this Leadville-area trail where snow is abundant well into spring. This loop can be traveled both directions so you may run into oncoming traffic. This rarely poses much of a problem as you can easily navigate around each other on your skis through the deep powder.
Distance: 5.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 953 feet
Located a short distance from the town of Frisco, this trail leads through a long valley with magnificent views of Tenmile Range. Moderate elevation gain makes it a great spot for most skiers, with a gentle climb that leads to a scenic overlook. The snow can get a bit more packed down here from skiers and snowshoers visiting frequently, but it is a nice wide trail and there is plenty of room for everyone.