Keep out your Nordic gear
BEAVER CREEK – At 10,000 feet, the snow stays around for a bit longer.So while there may be tons of green throughout the Vail Valley, there’s still some great Nordic skiing this spring.
McCoy Park, nearly 2,000 feet above the Beaver Creek Village, has a solid base, and should be open until April 8, according to Nate Goldberg, who heads up the Beaver Creek Nordic Center.
With more than 30 kilometers of groomed terrain, McCoy Park has plenty of space for both types of Nordic skiing, as well as snowshoeing. And much like the rest of the mountain, it’s a good idea to find the soft stuff.”This time of year, you plan for spring snow,” Goldberg said. “Follow the sun and see where it hits first. The north-facing areas will be pretty firm and icy in places. But we’re going to get on a schedule where we’ll be grooming a couple trails every morning, which will soften stuff up before the sun does.”By the afternoon, a good amount of the terrain is soft.Getting thereOne of the few lift-access Nordic areas in North America, McCoy’s starting elevation is 9,840. To get there, you can ride the Strawberry Park Express Lift, or the Upper Beaver Creek Mountain Express Lift. A day pass is $22, and can be purchased at the Nordic Center, which is at the base of the Strawberry Park lift, although regular ski passes work.
For beginning Nordic skiers, there is a practice area – Little LuLu – right below the McCoy Park warming hut, with classical tracks and a loop with a short uphill and downhill section.Those looking for a bit of guidance can sign up for a morning lesson ($70), starting at 10 a.m., followed by a tour ($29) at 1:15 p.m. Snowshoe nature tours ($70) depart at 10 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Both Nordic and snowshoes rentals are available at the Nordic Center. Private tours are based on availability.Although the temperatures can creep into the 50’s, breathable layers are a must.”You’re dressing for the chair lift ride,” Goldberg said. “The lift up and lift down is the coldest part of the day.”ExploreThe 30K of trails is about 40 percent green, 40 percent blue and 20 percent black. There are also single-track snowshoe-only trails.
Unlike most Nordic courses, which are in valleys, McCoy Park offers panoramic views of mountain ranges almost a hundred miles away.One of the most scenic views is at Discovery Outlook, which is on the far side of the park. At the outlook, the Sawatch Range jumps above the horizon, with the top of Mt. Jackson peeking through on the left, while the Gore Range lies the sky further to the left. From much of the front side of McCoy, the entire Gore Range lines the horizon, with the Flattops off in the distance.Maps are available at both the Nordic Center and warming hut. The park is open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.,, and the Strawberry Park lift stops downloading at 4 p.m. For more information, call 845-5313, or visit http://www.beavercreek.snow.comSports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.