New Nordic ski area opening in Columbia Falls
The newest cross-country skiing area in the Flathead Valley opens this weekend in Columbia Falls.
Meadow Lake Resort and Glacier Nordic Club are teaming up to offer Meadow Lake Nordic Trails, featuring 6 kilometers and three loops of groomed gentle terrain on the resort’s golf course. A grand-opening celebration is Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
There will be no cost to ski the course during the opening, with free 45-minute beginner lessons offered on the hour by Glacier Nordic Club’s professional instructors and free two-hour ski rentals from Glacier Cyclery and Nordic.
Snacks and hot drinks will be served during the day. From 3 to 5 p.m., Sacred Waters Brewing Co. is hosting an apres ski party at the Meadow Lake Bar & Grille.
Meadow Lake has opened the golf course to informal skiing in years past, but this is the first time in at least a few decades it’s offering a groomed trail system.
“We’re always looking for more features for guests and others,” Meadow Lake Marketing Director Lance Lynch said. “For the past several years it’s been a free-for-all, so now we’ll groom it regularly and offer a better amenity.”
PureWest Realtor Barb Riley, who’s worked with Meadow Lake for 31 years, said the resort suspended its trail-grooming program because it damaged the golf course.
“You keep crushing the snow down and it creates an ice plate. Then as grasses germinate in the spring, it can suffocate that and the snow mold takes months to clear so you have dead patches,” she said. “It wasn’t conducive to the long-term focus of the golf course.”
She said the new route has been planned to avoid sensitive areas of the golf course, which will be clearly marked and roped off.
“They were careful with the route this time,” she said. “It’s primarily through the rough areas, and stays away from the low turf and fairway areas.”
Glacier Nordic Club Executive Director Cameron Blake said Meadow Lake contacted her group, which operates the Glacier Nordic Center at Whitefish Lake Golf Course and financially supports the grooming of the Big Mountain Nordic Trails.
“Planning and signage have been in the works since September and we’ve finally had enough snow,” Blake said of the Meadow Lake course.
The Glacier Nordic Center on the Whitefish Lake Golf Course also got off to a late start, opening on Dec. 31. Blake said that, as of Monday, the course is “skiing really well right now.”
Though Blake didn’t have the final tally of participants skiing on the Whitefish course for the National Trails Day event on Jan. 20, she said it was very busy, with the Glacier Nordic Club giving 60 free lessons and 110 skiers taking advantage of free rentals.
Day passes for the Meadow Lake Course will be $12 and can be purchased at the Meadow Lake front desk. Glacier Nordic Club members ski for free. Visit www.glaciernordicclub.com.
Reporter Heidi Gaiser may be reached at 758-4438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.