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On the Trail: Carlin’s Cruise to Joy’s Loop

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Olive Wolfe, 8, skis Carlin’s Cruise to Joy’s Loop, a quick, fun Nordic trail accessible to all ages and abilities. PHOTO BY CIARA WOLFE

By Ciara Wolfe EBS Contributor

Carlin’s Cruise to Joy’s Loop is exactly what the name suggests—a joyful cruise. This trail is perfect for beginner- to intermediate-level Nordic skiers looking for a quick and scenic ski.

The 4.2-kilometer loop starts near the Lone Mountain Ranch outdoor shop on an easy, flat trail heading north. At the first intersection, take a left toward Carlin’s Cruise followed by a hard right onto the trail.

This section of the trail entails a gradual climb for another 0.5 km. During the climb, the trail slowly bends east until arriving on top of a small bluff above the ranch.

Continue for another 1.2 km on Carlin’s Cruise for a fairly flat ski with beautiful vistas of Lone Mountain to the west and the Meadow to the east. At the next intersection, continue straight onto Joy’s Loop for a shorter ski; or take a left onto the Ranch Loop for an additional 3.5 km of beginner to intermediate trail.

Joy’s Loop heads downhill around a sharp corner that leads to 1 km of gradual downhill. At the base of the bluff, a left will take you back toward the outdoor shop.

A fun loop for skiers of all ages and abilities, this trail is one of my favorites to take my children on when we want to get out of the house for a little exercise, or need a place to release some afterschool energy during our long winter months. Once back at the outdoor shop, my children’s favorite après ski activity is hot cocoa by the fire in Horn and Cantle Saloon.

An annual season pass or day pass can be purchased in the LMR outdoor shop. All proceeds from pass sales go toward the cost of grooming Big Sky’s Nordic trail system. For a complete map of Big Sky’s 85 km of groomed Nordic trails, visit

Visit for more information about Big Sky’s parks, trails and recreation programs. The Big Sky Community Organization engages and leads people to recreational and enrichment opportunities through thoughtful development of partnerships, programs and places.

Ciara Wolfe is the executive director of the Big Sky Community Organization.

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