Nordic Skiing Trails
Vallecito Lake Trail System
Chicken Creek Trail
Mesa Verde Trail
La Plata Canyon Rd.
Lightner Creek Rd
The Meadow Trail
from the CAIC
Nordic Skiing in Durango Colorado
Nordic Skiing is thought to have originated in the northern European Scandinavian (Nordic) countries
thousands of years ago. Of course then it was very much a necessary form of transportation and way of hunting
for food when deep snows covered the ground. Today it is one of the most popular winter activities in the world
utilized by millions of people as a form of exercise or a way to enjoy the outdoors. As a society we have evolved
from the original bones and sticks used by our ancestors to high tech composites of fiberglass and carbon fiber
but the principal remains basically the same. Nordic Skiing also known as Cross Country Skiing is of a type
where the heal of the boot is not attached to the ski, only the tips of the boots. This allows the heals to lift and
the skier to flex onto the ball of the foot when moving forward or cutting the classic telelmark turn.
Cross Country Skiing is extremely popular in Durango and with almost two million acres of San Juan
National Forest to play in; it's easy to understand why. Many of the trails listed within this website can be used
for cross country skiing and are a good choice for a quick trek in the snow. Listed below are some of the trails
that might be a good choice for you to try.
Some trails may have winter wildlife closures which should be indicated by signs
at the trailhead and if they are please respect them and make another choice.
Durango does get quite a few deer and elk that come down from the higher elevations
to spend the winter and it's a good idea not to disturb them.
Nordic skiers have a couple of choices when it comes to snow conditions and it's
mainly a matter preference. Do you like to follow trails with lots of un-broken snow and
fresh powder? We have that. Do you like groomed and maintained tracks that you can
follow at your own pace? We have that too.
Many of the National Forest roads are not maintained during the winter and are great to follow by cross
country ski. La Plata Canyon (C.R. 124) is a local favorite as well as Lime Creek road (C.R. 1) and Cascade
Creek. The summit of Molas Pass on North Hwy 550 has a couple of small parking spots that will give you
access to Andrews lake, Molas lake, the Colorado Trail and tons of sweet open back country. Back country
Nordic Skiing is great fun but use caution and common sense as winter in the high mountains can be extreme.
Check the local weather, plan your trip, stick to the plan and if
you intend to go for an extended distance take extra items
in case of emergency. These items can include but are
not limited to; Cell phone, GPS device, hand warmers,
emergency blanket, extra layer of clothing, water,
lighter, multi tool and extra food. About eating snow to
keep hydrated while in the back country. It may be ok
to eat some snow in small amounts but be aware that
too much can actually lower your core body
temperature and hasten the effects of hypothermia.
Also, do not eat colored snow. This can be as bad as
you think and does not just include the obvious
"yellow" variety. You may see snow (usually in the
spring) that is pink or pinkish brown that is sometimes
called watermelon or blood snow and may contains an
algae called Chlamydomanas Nivalis. It has a red
carotenoid pigment that gives it the color and while it
is not known to be dangerous to eat it is known to give
some individuals pink diarrhea. Not cool. Also be sure
to check out our link to the Colorado Avalanche
Information Center for conditions and warnings for our
areas. Snow Slides are a real danger in the mountains
and back country skiers need to be very cautious and aware
of their surroundings.
In the winter Vallecito Reservoir has an outstanding groomed and
maintained track / trail that is great for the entire family. The track is
good and fast for training (skating) and also has several loops with
views of the mountains. The trail is good for kids to learn on and long
enough to give pro's a good workout. An all around awesome place to
Not far from Durango, in Pagosa Springs the “Pagosa Nordic Club”
offers 50km of free groomed x-c ski trails. These trails are groomed for
skate skiing with set tracks for classic cross country skiing. Pagosa
nordic also offers lessons and clinics great for the whole family!
Another good choice is near the town of Mancos, Colorado about
28 miles on hwy 160 west called Chicken Creek. They have about 9
miles of maintained classic and skate trail that are un-crowded and
Cross country skiing is a great low impact total body workout that is relatively inexpensive and quick to
learn. Kids have fun, it offers access to backcountry and almost anybody can enjoy it. Durango has many ski
shops that both rent and sell equipment for beginners and professionals alike. So break out the polypro and
grab the skis, it's time to Go Outdoors!
© DuranGO Outdoors