Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hills Nordic Rail Trail

Hills Nordic Rail Trail
Distance: 10.75 km (6.68 mi).
Route type: Out-and-back
Suitable for: XC Skiing
Elevation change: 70 metres up, 70 metres down
Technical difficulty rating:  
Navigational difficulty rating:  

A beautiful, easy ski alongside Bonanza Creek. Turn west off Highway 6 in Hills (about 12 km north of New Denver) on Reibin Road, drive 400 metres to the end of the road and veer right onto a little spur called Huckleberry Road, which ends shortly thereafter in a parking area with a generous turnaround. Access to the rail trail is via a 20-metre pathway on the left side of the parking area. Gear up at the bottom of the slope.

The trail extends in two directions. To the south (left) it falls away with a ~3% grade for about 1.3 kilometres before reaching a precipitous hill where judicious skiers normally stop, turn around and head back. To the north (right) it climbs with a 1-2% grade for many kilometres, with the first 3.5 kilometres being groomed regularly by the lovely movers and shakers at the Hills Nordic Ski Club. The trail is well worth skiing in both directions, though the northerly direction as far as "the red house" (a falling-down shack was once painted barn red) is particularly attractive and easy to ski.

The trail runs pleasantly straight while beautiful Bonanza Creek meanders in and out of view to the west. The running water gives a zen-like ambience for those who choose to linger and glide. The tracks of coyote, deer, elk, hare and moose are commonly seen, with moose tracks likeliest to be found in the bermed area that runs through the marshy region on both sides of the red house.

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