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On the Trail: Sluice Box

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By Ciara Wolfe BSCO Executive Director

Skiing the Sluice Box trail provides an excellent aerobic workout and peaceful scenery from start to finish. Cross-country skiers start the 6-kilometer loop by heading north from the Lone Mountain Ranch Outdoor Shop on the northwest side of the parking lot. Approximately ½ of a kilometer out, you’ll come to your first marked intersection. Follow the signs for Sluice Box and take a left.

The trail then begins a gradual climb that starts at the creek bed and continues until you reach a forested plateau. At the top of the snow-covered plateau, you’ll cross two small roads with minimal traffic and continue a steady S-turn climb for approximately 1 more kilometer. At this intersection take a right toward Mountain View ski trail and soon after take a left onto Sluice Box. This loop is a curving 1.6-kilometer climb through beautiful, open lodgepole pine forest. At the top of the loop, you‘ll begin 1.8 kilometers of gradual, curvy descent.

Throughout the entire downhill, you can be confident you won’t unexpectedly encounter an uphill skier, as this is a one-way loop that is well marked. After finishing the loop, you’ll return to the second intersection you navigated through on your ski uphill. From this point, follow the same trail down that you skied up all the way back to the Outdoor Shop. After skiing hard on the way up, you’ll get to enjoy a long, fun ski back. You can follow your ski with a visit to Lone Mountain Ranch’s Saloon for a small bite to eat, meal with friends, or warm drink by the fire.

Lone Mountain Ranch is located just off Highway 64 approximately 4.5 miles west of its intersection with Highway 191. After you pass through Town Center, you’ll begin your climb toward the peak and see the Lone Mountain Ranch sign and driveway on your right. The Outdoor Shop and parking lot can be found on your left about half of a mile up the road. You can purchase an annual season pass or a day pass ($20/day) there. All proceeds from pass sales go toward the cost of grooming our winter Nordic trail system. For a complete map of Big Sky’s 85 kilometers of groomed Nordic trails, visit

For more information about Big Sky’s parks, trails and recreation programs, visit The Big Sky Community Organization is a local nonprofit that connects people to recreational opportunities by acquiring, promoting and preserving sustainable places and programs for all.

Trail stats

Distance: 6K
Difficulty: Intermediate
Elevation gain: 400 feet
Surface: classic track includes both skate and classic groomed trails
Uses: cross-country skiing
Directions: From Gallatin Canyon/Highway 191, turn west on Highway 64. Drive approximately 4.5 miles and turn right at the Lone Mountain Ranch sign. The parking lot is located another ½ of a mile up the road.

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