When you arrive at Ole's nordic center in Warren, Vermont, you can't help but notice the ski lodge looks a bit like an air traffic tower. And the orange windsocks make you really start to suspect something.
Ole's is in fact a small airport during the summer months. But to those who don't know any better, this cross-country center just seems to have a big, wide, snowy field right out its back door.
When I arrived on Wednesday afternoon, local children were wrapping up their school skiing program. I saw a pile full of colorful mini-skinny skis and poles. Boy I wish I could have skied at my school as a kid!
I asked the manager for an intermediate skating loop, and he pointed me in the right direction. The Deer Run Trail (#5) took me from one end of the runway area into quiet woods full of pine trees. The trail twisted and undulated. I then popped out at a farmer's field with one of the best views of Sugarbush ski resort. Wow!
The Mad River Valley got pummeled by the latest snowstorms, so the snow coverage was very good. But sunshine and temperatures made for some extra-soft areas, and also glazed-over areas in the open fields.
Oh, and the warmth has done a real number on Airport Road and Ole's parking area. It's totally muddy and my two-wheel-drive car was shimmying its way along the road. Four-wheel drive wouldn't be a bad idea this time of year. And don't take Airport Road from Route 100. Best to access it on the other side.
The skiing tracks were set well and the groomed trail felt good even late in the day. Despite the good skiing conditions, I didn't pass anyone on this scenic loop.
I took a long, gradual downhill around the corner of a cornfield and then was in sight of East Warren Road. The trail followed a stream for a bit and then zig-zagged around homes, ponds, yards and meadows.
More than 20 landowners around Ole's have granted permission for the cross-country ski trails to pass through their land. How cool is that? And it would be even cooler to live in one of these homes with groomed ski trails just steps away, wouldn't it!
I've been getting my fair share of skiing firsts. Last year I skied a dam. (Lots of rocks on that slope!) And now I can say that I have skied on an airport runway.
I can't wait to go back to further explore Ole's nordic trail network. I like the sound of the Warren Pinnacle trail. But for now, over and out.
Ole's Cross-Country Ski Center at a glance
Airport Road, Warren, Vermont
50km of machine-tracked trails
Rentals and lessons available
Free classic clinic: Saturday 10-10:30 a.m.
Free skate clinic: Sunday 10-10:30 a.m.
Snowshoe trails available, too
Open daily 9 to 5