We greatly appreciate Just Trails & Rebecca Walsh for sharing some tips on cross-country skiing in Southeast Wyoming! Check out their website to learn more about Wyoming outdoor resources — it’s a great tool!
3 Easy Cross-Country Ski Trails in Southeastern Wyoming
text & images by Rebecca Walsh, Just Trails
One of the advantages of living above 7,000 feet is that winter comes early and stays late. As our friends in other parts of the United States are enjoying scenic fall colors we’re dusting off our cross-country ski equipment and keeping an eye on the snowpack in the mountains.
Medicine Bow National Forest isn’t famous for its cross-country skiing but it should be. There are dozens of miles of trails just a short drive from Laramie. Trails are perfect for both novice and experienced skiers.
If you’re looking to spend a nice easy day on the ski trails we recommend the following locations:
The Chimney Park trail system is the perfect place to learn how to cross-country ski. Trails wind their way along old logging roads with very little elevation change. While the trails are relatively flat, there are a few gentle rolling hills. The trails at Chimney Park have the added advantage of being tucked into a forest of lodgepole pines and aspen trees making it a great location to escape the Wyoming wind.
There are 4 trails at Chimney Park: Woods Creek Loop (2.9 miles), Porter Loop (4.0 miles), Lodgepole Loop (3.0 miles) and Jelm View Loop (3.1 miles) and trails range in elevation from 8,800 feet to 9,000 feet.
To get to Chimney Park travel southwest from Laramie on Highway 230 towards Woods Landing. The trailhead is just over 6 miles past Woods Landing on the south side of the highway between mile markers 33 and 34.
Ski trails at Chimney Park are sometimes groomed by the Forest Service; we recommend calling the Laramie Ranger District to find out if they’ve been groomed before heading to Chimney Park. There is a $5.00 day use fee payable at the trailhead. You can download a free trail guide for Chimney Park here.
Medicine Bow Rail Trail
The Medicine Bow Rail Trail is one of our favorites for easy backcountry skiing. The trail follows the old railroad bed of the Hans Peak and Pacific Railroad through the Medicine Bow National Forest for 22.4 miles. There are several different trailheads, most of which aren’t open or accessible during the winter. We recommend starting from the Woods Creek trailhead which is just past the Chimney Park trailhead off of Highway 230. This trailhead is not plowed in the winter, but there are places to park alongside the road.
The rail trail wanders through a pine forest along easy and flat terrain. Because this trail isn’t groomed, touring or backcountry skis with medal edges are recommended. This is a lesser known ski trail in the area and it’s a great place for solitude; rarely do we see other skiers here. You can download a free trail guide for the Medicine Bow Rail Trail here.
While the cross-country ski trails at Tie City are more technical and challenging than those at Chimney Park or along the Rail Trail they have the advantage of being close to both Laramie and Cheyenne and they are regularly groomed by the Medicine Bow Nordic Association.
There are over 14 miles of trails at Tie City which span across a wide variety of terrain. Some of the more difficult trails offer challenging climbs while others offer gentle terrain through open meadows and dense forests. Trails at Tie City range in elevation from 8,400-8,900 feet. The Tie City Trailhead is strategically placed in what feels like one of the windiest places on Pole Mountain, making just getting of to the car the hardest part of any ski trip there. However, once you start skiing and get into the tree’s the wind is hardly noticeable.
To get to the Tie City Trailhead take the Happy Jack exit off of I-80 and follow Happy Jack Road (Highway 210) down from the summit. The trailhead is between mile markers 36 and 37.
Ski trails at Tie City are groomed and maintained by the Medicine Bow Nordic Association. There is a $5.00 day use fee payable at the trailhead. You can download a free trail guide for Tie City here.
For more information about trails in Southeastern Wyoming and all the information you need to plan an outdoor adventure, visit us at http://www.justtrails.com.