|photo: Qwick Guides: Anaconda & Philipsburg|
Nordic skiing, or cross country, typically sees a longer season than its downhilling older brother. Because Nordic trails are typically less rugged and exposed than those on a mountainside, snow more easily accumulates, providing additional weeks (sometimes) of great snow conditions on either side of the alpine skiing season. Now that Ullr has started dropping his wintery goodness over southwest Montana, the Nordic trails may just be where it’s at until the downhill slopes become rock free. If you’re looking for a spot, no fear, the Butte area has some of the state’s most stellar Nordic skiing areas.
Just on top of Homestake Pass, roughly 5 miles east on I-90, sits Homestake Lodge ski area. Day passes run $15 for the over 20 miles of total trails; some of those are lighted trails for nighttime skiing. Besides, the Lodge has possibly the most inviting post-adventure fireplace in the land. For directions, races, events, and more visit www.homestakelodge.com.
The crowning jewel of the area’s Nordic scene is Mt. Haggin Nordic ski area, 11 miles south southwest of Anaconda on Mill Creek Road (highway 274). This free of charge (donations are accepted to offset grooming costs) and immaculately groomed trail system provides sweeping views of the Pintlers on the 10-mile Little California Loop trail and hosts the popular Legends of the Wulf annual ski race. After your ramble, cross the street and relax in everything the “soup shack” has to offer—soups, pies, coffee, and hot chocolate awesomeness. More info can be found at: www.milehighnordic.org.
An excellent, yet unsung trail system lies about 6 miles north of Walkerville. The Moulton trails offer a wide range of trails and intermittent grooming to make this area one of the most peaceful settings around. You’re likely to meet as many energetic trail-dogs as skiers here, adding to the lure. I know Denali, my Husky, is itching to get up there.