Exploring new-to-us Nordic trails over the last few days

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 10:25 AM

Checking out the Beaver Pond Trail at Bolton Valley Nordic Center, Vermont.
Following a stream bed, and fox tracks, on Goat Path.

Have you ever skied by a trail, stopped in your tracks and asked yourself out loud: “I wonder where that trail goes?”

During our most recent Nordic outings on Saturday and Tuesday, we took the bull by the horns and resolved to answer that question.

The snow was still crusty in the backcountry in our region and it was not easy to ski off-piste, so we looked for low-angle ski tours to explore in the woods. When consulting the Bolton Valley Nordic Center trail map, we realized there were quite a few nooks and crannies to explore in the lower and middle sections of the trail network.

On Saturday we layered up against the cold and started from the lowest point on the Bolton trail system (the southern end) and explored the ungroomed trails around Bolton Lodge, Caribou Corner and Beaver Pond. The beaver pond offered pretty views to the east and lots of sun. You can ski around the beaver pond area and then zigzag through a maze of trails such as Zach's, Buck and Grand View, which brings you to the decrepit Bolton Lodge (it's slated to be renovated soon). It was fun to enjoy new views and be in the woods.

We learned, however, that we should not park off at the very bottom of the trail network. This is because the lowest section of Broadway/Catamount Trail is plowed to a private residence and the road is icy and treacherous to ski or walk in this kind of thawing-and-freezing weather. We would consider parking at the bottom of the Bolton access road's big S curve and walking across the street and up the hill to avoid half of the icy, plowed section. Also be warned that people walk and ski with their dogs on these lower trails (even though this is not allowed). Post holes are not always easy to navigate on skis.

On Tuesday, we explored the center portion of the trail network off of the Maple Loop trails. We followed our noses and enjoyed a little bit of fresh snow that was on the groomed trails, and over the crust on the other trails. On sections of the challenging Goat Path, Fox Hollow and Telemark backcountry trails, we followed and crossed streams that were half-frozen and we came upon rabbit tracks, fox tracks and noisy woodpeckers.

With our light backcountry gear these trails were made more rugged because of the crust that was under the thin, fresh snow and the stream beds that were not filled in. We took our time and reveled in being out in the woods for a while with no one else around. We look forward to exploring more out here when there is deeper, non-crusty snow.

Exploring on skis is fun, no?

Filed in: Backcountry skiing, Bolton Valley, Cross-country skiing

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