How to Ski Kind in Bozeman
Bozeman is home to one of the most extensive Nordic ski trail systems in the country – and it’s completely free for anyone to use. Thanks to the Bridger Ski Foundation (BSF), more than 40 miles of trails are groomed regularly around town for locals and visitors to enjoy. You may have even seen snow being made on Sunset Hills trails near the hospital. Because of the community’s long history of exceptional ski programs and generous locals, Bozeman has this incredible asset. As our population expands, we need to remember to take care of this resource and share the trails in a friendly fashion.
As part of Bozeman’s Outside Kind Alliance, we compiled best practices from partner BSF on how to Ski Kind in Bozeman. Here’s how you can help make Nordic (cross country) and backcountry skiing a better experience for everyone.
Being prepared is key to enjoying your time out in the snow. Know where you are headed and the rules and restrictions of that area. Some trails in Bozeman – like the Bozeman Creek Trail/Sourdough Trail – are multi-use and allow dogs, runners and bikes, while others – like the Bridger Creek Golf Course – are for skiers only. Understand who and what is allowed at each location and be prepared to encounter other users, as well as groomers and their equipment.
Before you go, make sure you understand the terrain and whether it’s suitable for your ability level. Check the weather and grooming conditions, as well as the BSF calendar, to see if any events are taking place that may impact your trail choice.
BSF is currently working on tools that will help everyone head out to the trails more informed. Later this season, they’ll be releasing a new mapping system so skiers can see real-time updates on grooming and other safety information. Be sure and visit BSF’s Grooming Report.
On Bozeman’s ski trails, you’ll find beginners, professionals and everything in between. And on some trails, you may come across a variety of other users, pets and even wildlife. Remember to share the trail with all speeds and abilities. Slow down and give a friendly hello to make everyone feel welcome. Wildlife is welcome, too! If you encounter an animal, keep your distance and allow it to pass peacefully before advancing down the trail.
Take care to protect the safety of yourself and others while on the trails. Think of other skiers as yield signs. Before you pass others, slow down, announce yourself with a friendly “on your left” and give some space as you pass. Be especially aware when rounding blind corners or coming up over a hill.
When skiing, downhill travelers have the right of way. We all know how difficult it can be to stop while going downhill on Nordic skis. So, if the trail is narrow and skiers are approaching heading downhill, kindly step aside and give them space to pass. If you fall (it happens to the best of us), move off the trail as quickly as you can so others can pass easily.
Ski No Trace
Leave only tracks. Pack out all trash and poop (yours and your dog’s). Believe it or not, there is no magical trash fairy who comes around to gather your droppings. Not only does litter make Bozeman’s beautiful places less beautiful, but it can also attract animals, eroding their natural instincts to avoid humans. And common trash like plastic bags and aluminum cans take up to 100 years to decompose. For more information about practicing Leave No Trace, check out the simple principles on their website.
This one’s easy. Say hello! Spread your knowledge, and help others if they have questions about trail directions. Bring your best self to the trail and share the joy of skiing. Everyone’s outside to relax and have fun – let’s leave any judgment and bad attitudes at home.
As much as you can, give back to the trails you ski. It costs BSF $100,000 each year to maintain our local ski trails, and it’s only possible through donations and volunteers. If you can afford it, please buy a Community Nordic Trails Pass to support the donor-funded trail grooming. You can purchase a single or family pass on the BSF website or locally at Chalet Sports, Bangtail Bike & Ski, or Round House Sports. Businesses can also support the trails through a variety of sponsorships. The trail system is full of community partnerships – other nonprofits such as Gallatin Valley Land Trust and Friends of Hyalite can also benefit from your support.
About Outside Kind
The Outside Kind Alliance, which consists of several local organizations and is facilitated by One Montana, joined forces to protect the people and places we love, and to explore ethical use issues that all recreational users need to know about. We want everyone to have a great experience, understand how to enjoy the outdoors while sharing it with others and treading lightly on the resource. To learn more, visit outsidekind.org.
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