By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER
With winter apparently here to stay, the Big Sky community has started to bundle up for casual outdoor strolls. As residents dig through closets for snowshoes and Nordic skis, the Big Sky Community Organization has started seasonal grooming operations.
Since 2018, the BSCO has maintained 11 miles of groomed trail, open to all user groups—walkers, fat tire bikes, snowshoes, dogs and cats are permitted to co-recreate with cross-country skiers. Popular hiking trails don’t close, according to Jeff MacPherson, BSCO parks, trails and facilities project manager. The Hummocks and Uplands areas are used year-round by bikers and hikers, and Ousel Falls remains a popular spot in the winter. The BSCO also installed the beacon checker at the Beehive Basin trailhead and clears snow on the bike path between Town Center and the Big Sky Post Office for pedestrian use.
“If you’re walking on [snowy] trails, traction devices are recommended,” MacPherson said. Gallatin County Search and Rescue responds to a minor call or two each winter for twisted ankles and other injuries caused by slippage, he added.
Ralph’s Pass is the only BSCO trail that closes, according to MacPherson. That area is protected for elk calving from Oct. 15 to June 15.
Groomed trails include the Community Park Loop, South Fork Trail, Ousel Falls Road Trail, Crail Trail and a newer trail heading north from the Michener Creek trailhead in the Gallatin Canyon.
The golf course trails are maintained by Lone Mountain Ranch in the winter.
“If you’re looking for world class Nordic skiing, go to Lone Mountain Ranch,” MacPherson said. “If you want to ski with your dog, that’s what our trails are for.”
Lone Mountain Ranch will open their groomed terrain on Nov. 23. No dogs are allowed on the trails, according to the website, and skiers must hold a day-ticket or season pass.
MacPherson said this is the “earliest and best start for [winter] trails” since the BSCO began managing them.