Trails & Grooming News
Thanks to the efforts of John Estle of the Fairbanks Nordic Ski Club and of Mat-Su Ski Club volunteers, there are now three internationally recognized Nordic race courses at GPRA. They are a 1.3-km sprint course, and 5-km and 7.5-km courses. GPRA is now one of 33 locations in the USA with homologated Nordic ski trails. Thanks John!
See the details here:
Its that time of year again! Volunteers needed to stroll the trails at GPRA getting them ready for winter.
On Saturday, October 10th; from 10am to 2pm we will have a work party at GPRA. Meet in the GPRA parking lot at 10am.
Mostly the Sisyphean job of tossing rocks of off the Denali trail. There will also be an opportunity to do a little shovel, rake, and bucket work where we reset a culvert. Grass seed will be spread locally.. We need to fix a few moose-vandalized U-board hangers with some dowels and glue. Finally, a posthole digger patrol will walk the Flattop, standing back up signs dragged out of their postholes by a mysterious force.
Mat-Su Ski Club maps of Gov’t Peak, and the Moose Range are available for free as geo-aware pdf’s. This means you can load them into an app like Avenza or Gaia* on your phone and use them like the GPS in your car, to see where you are on the trail (or off the trail).
Find the geopdf maps for Gov’t Peak and the Moose Range under Ski Info – Trail Maps on the menu.
Links to other Nordic Ski trail maps from across southern Alaska are in the same place.
*(It is easy and free to use Avenza with geoPDF’s, however, Gaia makes it tricky and not free to load geopdf’s from the wild.)
We finished building the rest of the Flattop Loop at GPRA this summer. It is now a proper loop, instead of being two-way traffic for half the way. The Flattop, accessed off of the Susitna Loop or Eska Loop, is an old-school, unlighted, narrow, twisting trail through the woods, for the folks who like that sort of thing.
This ski trail grooming season was seven and a half months long! Matching our longest previous season: 226 days of skiing.
Volunteers spent 1322 hours grooming and training, and maintaining machines, during the 2019-20 grooming season. This is a 50% increase over recent previous seasons.
Volunteers drove the grooming fleet a total of 5400 miles this season – the equivalent of a roadtrip from Deadhorse to Seattle and back to Deadhorse!
This was our first season with the PistenBully in our grooming fleet, as well as the first season in which we groomed throughout the winter at Independence Mine.
This was a solid winter with no trail-closing winter warmup at GPRA. There were a few multi-day show-stopping snow-dumping storms that put grooming at all locations on hold, and required major efforts to recover the trails afterward.
Independence Mine: Oct 5 TO May 17 (~1000 miles of grooming machine travel on 79 grooming days during 226 calendar days)
Archangel Road: Nov 18 to May 8 (718 miles of grooming machine travel on 50 grooming days during 172 calendar days)
GPRA: Dec 2 to April 11 (~2900 miles of grooming machine travel on 55 grooming days during 140 calendar days)
Moose Range: Dec 2 to Apr 12 (over 800 miles of grooming machine travel on 50 grooming days during 141 calendar days)
Work has started on completing the Flattop Loop, so that it will be a true loop, as originally planned. You can help. May is a great season for clearing the devilsclub, alders, and all the rest – before the new growth obscures everything. Bring a lopper to cut the remaining devils club, roses, and other little bushes. or just a pair of devils club-proof gloves and toss the already cut pieces off the trail.
You can help with your own virtual work party. Starting from the bottom of Eska, walk out the Flattop and look for the very obvious lines of pink flagging and the survey stakes with arrows and instructions on them for the three in-progress trail segments: O oscar, B bravo, and D delta. Here is a map of the work areas.
A pair of devilsclub-proof gloves is all you need – there are lots of already cut stalks to toss off the trail alignment. Bring a lopper too if you want, there are always more stalks yet to be cut.
Contact us if you want to help, or just head out on your own. It is a nice walk this time of year and even if you do only a tiny bit of work, it will help.
April skiing is great! March brought tons of snow and the MSSC volunteer groomers were busy. Our new uber-tool, the PB100, moved in mid-March from GPRA up to Independence to re-open the trails there after massive snowfalls. At GPRA, Archangel, Independence, and the Moose Range, 256 volunteer hours in March maintained the ski and multiuse trails.
Your volunteer groomers were busy in February:
53 hours at Independence Mine, 17 hours at Archangel Road, 32 hours in the Moose Range, and 91 hours of grooming at GPRA. They groomed trails on 24 days last month.
Please stay off the Government Peak ski trails, they are almost ready. Although there is a lot of water and slush right under the new snow, and if we ski on it (or groom it), it will create ice. Hopefully by Monday (night?) we can groom it. It is so close to being great skiing it hurts not be able to ski on those great trails, but the wait will be WELL WORTH IT.
GPRA looks good, but it is sloppy wet smush. All Users: Please stay off of the Comp and Mat-Su Loops, so that they will be skiable when it cools down. The Comp Loops and Mat-Su Loops are closed to all Walkers and Bikers for the season. Pioneer Loop is open for all uses.