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HANSEN — It’s a gem of a trail, and Valdon Hancock makes it tough to get lost.

The Magic Mountain Snowshoe Trail, a 0.8-mile loop beginning and ending at Magic Mountain Resort’s ski lodge, delivers a big scenic payoff. And Hancock, with striped red ribbon trailing from his jacket’s front pocket, is this trail’s champion.

Hancock’s big worry: Is there any way a snowshoer could lose the trail?

Not if he can help it. Striped ribbons flutter from tree branches, filling the gaps between blue diamond markers. And still Hancock examines every angle: Could that turn use more ribbon?

The snow is still gorgeous at Magic Mountain, and this is a free, all-ages experience in winter exploration. So don’t let the snowshoe trail go to waste.

The Magic Mountain Resort lodge, open a few days a week through March 25, offers $10 snowshoe rentals. But bring your own and you can use the trail anytime.

The route

The snowshoe trail begins at the west side of the ski lodge, 27 miles south of Hansen on Rock Creek Road. Watch for the 4-inch-square blue diamonds and for striped ribbons marking this trail; the non-striped ribbons have another purpose.

Heading north, the trail skirts the bottom of the resort’s tubing runs and follows a short stretch of groomed Nordic track before crossing to the east side of the Rock Creek drainage and climbing to a low ridge. Turning south, the trail heads up the ridge among aspen, fir and pine. Up here, you’ll have great views of the downhill ski runs on the other side of the drainage.

The trail leads to the top of a clearing above Magic Mountain’s tubing hill then descends through the trees and uses a natural switchback, ending back at the lodge.

It’s long enough to feel like a family adventure in the snowy forest but not strenuous. If you want to cut it short, the direction to head for the lodge is usually obvious.

Find a printable trail map: Skihdna.org/hdna-south-trails.html

Trail etiquette

Now, about that short stretch of groomed Nordic track.

See those two parallel grooves in the snow, each the width of a cross-country ski? Don’t step on them.

Use the wide packed trail, certainly. But have everyone in your snowshoeing party walk single file, off to the side, and don’t damage the groomer-set ski track. It’s basic winter trail etiquette that keeps skiers safer — and makes it clear you’re a snowshoer in the know.

High Desert Nordic Association, a Twin Falls-based cross-country ski club, developed the Magic Mountain Snowshoe Trail in 2008 and maintains it in cooperation with the Sawtooth National Forest.

“It is probably better marked than any of our other trails,” said Hancock, a High Desert Nordic board member.

Yes, part of the club’s motivation is giving snowshoers an alternative that doesn’t damage the groomed ski tracks elsewhere on its trail system in the South Hills.

But that doesn’t at all diminish the beauty of this trail.

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