Friday, November 23, 2012

Croy trails bring new locale for Nordic skiing

9km of trails to replace 13km lost at Quigley Canyon


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Though there’s not much snow in the area yet, this photo shows where land in Croy Canyon has already been prepared for the new 9km of Nordic skiing trails that will replace the former Quigley Nordic Center. Courtesy photo

South valley residents who were used to the convenience of the Quigley Nordic Center east of Hailey will still have an option for Nordic skiing this year, despite the closure of the Quigley area.

Blaine County Recreation District Executive Director Jim Keating said that the district has created about 9 kilometers of classic and skate-skiing trails in Croy Canyon just west of Hailey, near Lion’s Park and the Draper Preserve.

Creation of the system began this summer after Quigley Ranch landowners eliminated access to 13 km of Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and hiking trails following a failed application for annexation to the city of Hailey. As a result, Keating said, the district needed to come up with a new option for south valley recreation.

“We absolutely appreciate the access we had,” he said. “We had been at Quigley for over 10 years, and it was a really important part of our system. It was a convenient part of people’s lives; a quick in and out on a lunch break.”

Keating said that the Quigley Nordic system used to get anywhere from 12,000 to 13,000 skier days per year. Because it was so popular, Keating said he knew the district needed to replace those facilities.

In order to build the 9 km of trails out Croy, however, he had to pull together several landowners and work with various entities to find a suitable space.

“There’s a lot of criteria,” he said. “You can’t do a Nordic system in a very confined area.”

The district worked with the city of Hailey, the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation, the Blaine County School District, the Simons family and the Wood River Land Trust to piece together access to a swath of land to the south of Croy Canyon Road.

Keating said that the city has been helpful in allowing parking and access at Lion’s Park, and that the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation will also partner with the district to maintain a teaching and development area for its youth programs.

Keating said that the trailhead would be at Lion’s Park in Hailey, where the district will set up a yurt warming hut similar to the one that had been at Quigley. Parking will be available at Lion’s Park. Facilities also will include a sledding hill and a dog-friendly skiing area. Day passes will cost $10 per person , and Croy access will be included in the price of a full season pass for $219.

“As cliché as it sounds, it’s been a great community moment,” Keating said.

Keating said that the Croy facilities would only add to the efforts by the Wood River Land Trust to revitalize the Draper Preserve. Keating said that the Draper Preserve area would also be open during the winter to those who wish to explore the area without skis.

Keating said he’s optimistic that Croy Canyon will remain an amenity for south valley residents.

“We certainly hope that we could have a little bit of staying power,” he said. “There is the opportunity in the future to at least connect through [private] land, even if there is a school there or the Croy Canyon Ranch facility. Our short-term goal was to maintain a good solution for a couple of years in an area with good long-term potential.”

Kate Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com

Blaine County Recreation District Area Nordic and snowshoe trails

The Croy Canyon trail system is only part of the 160 km of Nordic and snowshoeing trails throughout the Wood River Valley. In the north valley. the Galena Lodge system and North Valley trails cover almost 115 km, including the Lake Creek Trails north of Ketchum and the North Fork Loop near the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
Alturas Lake, 25 miles north of Ketchum, has both snowshoeing and Nordic trails.
The Wood River Trail, also known as “the bike path” is groomed all winter for Nordic skiing. Access to the Wood River Trail is free and open to all residents and visitors. Even closer to town is the Sun Valley Nordic and Snowshoe Center, located at the Sun Valley Club.
Nordic season passes are $219 for adults for access to all BCRD trails, and $467 for access to all BCRD and Sun Valley Trails. Youth passes are $29 for all BCRD trails. Season passes for dogs are $49.
Day pass prices on BCRD trails are $15 for Nordic skiing, $10 for adults at Croy Nordic and $5 for youth, dogs and snowshoers.




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