Jenna Vagias scampered up a steep hillside bordering Hailey’s Quigley Canyon. From her perch, the Blaine County Recreation District spokeswoman could see the future of Nordic skiing in the canyon, which lies behind Wood River High School.
The barley field below disappeared as she envisioned Nordic trails snaking back and forth between the hillsides lining the canyon.
As soon as the snows come, Quigley Canyon will again be the hub of cross-country skiing in Hailey, thanks to an agreement between Quigley Farm developers and the Blaine County Recreation District.
Quigley Farm developers plan to develop 176 residential units, along with a school, playgrounds and a few nonprofit businesses. But they have carved out open space for wildlife and recreational trails, as well.
The BCRD, which operated Nordic trails in Quigley until 2012, plans on grooming 14 kilometers of Nordic trails in Quigley Canyon this coming winter, according to Director Jim Keating. That’s more than the nine kilometers of terrain it groomed at Croy Nordic during the past few years. It’s slightly more than the 10 to 13 kilometers of terrain that the BCRD formerly groomed in Quigley.
And it will add to the 200 kilometers BCRD already grooms over a swath of National Forest land north to Galena Lodge, which comprises one of the largest Nordic playgrounds in the nation.
Quigley Nordic got 13,000 skier days per year when in operation. It’s expected that the area will have a longer season than Croy, even in low snow years like last year.
“Quigley holds snow better than Croy in part because it’s better sheltered by the mountains,” said Vagias. “So we don’t need as much snow to make a go of it.”
In addition, Vagias said, Quigley Farms gifted the BCRD with 107 acres with water rights just west of Bloom Farm. That means the BCRD will be able to make snow to cover at least a short loop to get people on the snow there earlier in the season, Vagias said.
For this year the BCRD plans to move a couple warming trailers there, said Keating. But, eventually, the BCRD plans to remove the agricultural shelter that currently sits on that parcel of land and replace it with restrooms and drinking water, a sledding hill and, perhaps, a fire pit.
The BCRD is also working with architects to envision a four-season pavilion.
“We want it to maintain look and feel of the historic Fox Barn, which sits near our aquatic center,” said Vagias. “We’re in the dreaming phase right now, and we want input from the community. If the community told us we need a bike washing station there, well maybe we’ll think about that.”
While snow was short south of Sun Valley last year, it was abundant north of Ketchum.
“We crushed all kinds of skier user records last year on our trails north of Ketchum since we were able to groom just three days short of a six-month season,” said Vagias. “Part of that included a huge uptick of kids skiing the trails.”
Those wanting to ski or snowshoe North Valley Trails north of Ketchum will be able to avail themselves of Mountain Rides’ Ride ‘n Glide bus service from Ketchum to Galena Lodge.(tncms-asset)20685dde-ec6e-11e8-b332-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
The bus service, now in its third year, is expanding to 44 days this year, including service on Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends. Bus service will be offered most Fridays through Sundays through Sunday, March 3.
The bus will make several stops in Ketchum before heading north for stops at the SNRA parking lot, Baker Creek parking lot, Prairie Creek trailhead and Galena Lodge. There will be four departure times heading north and five heading south.
A season bus pass is $39. One-way passes are $5 and roundtrip passes $8, available in Ketchum at The Elephant’s Perch, Sturtevants, Backwoods Mountain Sports, the Limelight Hotel, Hotel Ketchum, Tamarack Lodge and Knob Hill Inn.
Free rides will be offered Dec. 8 and 9 for Demo Days at Galena Lodge, said Kim MacPherson, Mountain Rides’ customer relations supervisor.
Adult passes for North Valley trails are $259. Children 17 and under ski and snowshoe for free with passes ordered online at www.bcrd.org. Day passes cost $17 for one day; $45 for three-day passes and $89 for seven-day passes. Season passes for dogs are $49 and or $5 for one day. Season passes for snowshoers are $65 or $5 for one day.
Day passes for Quigley Nordic are $10.
Adult passes for the 40 kilometers of groomed classic and skate ski tracks at Sun Valley Nordic Center are $28 and $24 for full days or half days, said Kelli Lusk, Sun Valley Resort’s communication manager. They’re $18 and $15 for seniors, $10 for youth 12 and older and free for children under 12.
Snowshoe trail fees at Sun Valley Nordic are $10 for adults and $5 for youth 12 and older. Season passes are $209. Combo BCRD/Sun Valley passes are $521. To purchase, visit www.sunvalley.com.
Skiing on the groomed bike path between Bellevue and Ketchum remains free.