Nordic thrills | VailDaily.com

Nordic thrills

Kent Roberg

Few outdoor activities offer the solitude and serenity accessible by cross-country skis. Nordic skiing, as it is formally known, is believed to have been developed by the Sami culture in the area near the artic circle of what is now Norway and Finland over 4000 years ago. Due to the migratory nature of the Sami it is believed they developed the cross-country ski to aid in the hunting of reindeer in their snow covered climate. The Sami are believed to have passed down the art of skiing to the Vikings. The earliest races date back to the time of the Vikings where history books have recorded races between great kings. One noteworthy race between King Harold and a young man named Heming may be the first upset in sporting ski competition.

Long lift lines and high ticket prices can take the fun and freedom out of downhill skiing. Crowded runs can be frustrating and potentially dangerous. Isn’t the real point to enjoy the beauty of winter in the mountains? The benefits of Nordic Skiing are many. Nordic skiing can give you a great low impact, high cardiovascular workout with little stress on the joints. The whole family can enjoy a day outdoors together in some of the most incredible surroundings the Rockies have to offer regardless of experience or skill level.

The Vail Golf course, located in East Vail, is a very popular cross country ski loop. Located east of Ford Park, the golf course can be accessed by bus from the Vail Transportation Center and is a great outing for those interested in staying close to town.

Beaver Creek is home to the Beaver Creek Nordic Center. Located on the top of the mountain is an intricate network of cross-country trails covering roughly 32 km. Amenities include a warming hut, a cafeteria, a bar and a ski shop. This is a great centralized location complete with rental equipment and day care services.

Camp Hale Loop

Historic Camp Hale is the former training ground of the famous 10th Mountain Division Infantry. Many of the original 10th Mountain soldiers went on to create lasting impressions on society. Contributions of these World War II vets include the founding of the Brail Trail for the blind, Nike shoes and Vail Ski Resort to name a few. Camp Hale is located approximately 14 miles south of the town of Minturn (exit 171 from I – 70). The Camp Hale Loop is five miles of flat trail and great for beginners or those who are less focused on a cardio workout and offers stunning views. Backcountry caution should be observed.

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Homestake Road

Closed to motor traffic in the winter (other than snowmobiles) Homestake Road follows Homestake Creek 11 miles to Homestake reservoir. The majority of the 11 miles is relatively flat with a climb coming in the final mile stretch running to the reservoir. Homestake Road is located on Highway 24 just past the Hornsilver campground.

Meadow Mountain/Line Shack Trail

Meadow Mountain is located just south of Vail on Highway 24. Look for a parking area designated by a wooden fence once you have passed the Ranger office on the right. If you reach the sharp curve into the town of Minturn you have gone too far. This trail meanders up through beautiful mountain meadows and leads to the Line Shack which is a great spot for a picnic.