HANSEN • Magic Mountain Resort hopes a new ski lift will remedy its one great failing:

“We’re a beginner mountain without a true beginner run,” co-owner Gary Miller said.

The resort proposes installing a triple-chair Poma lift east of Rock Creek Road — on the Pike Mountain side of the resort — following the same line as a now-defunct lift that once accessed gentle ski terrain but hasn’t been used since the 1980s.

“It’s all beginner terrain over there on that side,” Miller said.

The resort’s main ski lift and its challenging runs are west of Rock Creek Road.

Before proceeding, the resort needs approval from the Minidoka Ranger District of the Sawtooth National Forest. The district issued a scoping document and is taking public comment through March 31.

Also, the district’s resource specialists are analyzing the lift proposal to determine any effects on, for instance, sage grouse, hydrology or water quality issues and cultural heritage resources, District Ranger Loren Poppert said. He hopes to make a final decision by early summer.

“The old (inoperable) lift extends to the very edge of the mapped ski area boundary and accesses terrain that is slightly beyond the mapped ski area boundary although this area has been accessed traditionally from the old lift,” the district’s scoping document says. A replacement lift in a similar line would require a mapping change to add less than five acres to the ski area.

If the replacement is approved, some cross-country skiers would have to change their habits.

One of the High Desert Nordic Association’s habitual paths over the snow — not a formal trail — connects the snowshoe trail by the Magic Mountain lodge to the Pike Springs Trail, board member Valdon Hancock said.

“Because that crosses the ski hill, while the ski area is open and the lift is operating and there’s skiers, we won’t be able to use that that way,” Hancock said. “That is, we’ll have to go around it one way or another.”

But an east-side lift would also give cross-country skiers an opportunity to ride the lift to reach ungroomed backcountry skiing, he said. “It’s really a positive thing overall.”

If Forest Service approval goes smoothly, Miller hopes the new lift will open for the resort’s 2016-17 season — a new attraction for school groups and other beginners.

“We’ve got all the engineering done, and it’s ready to go,” he said.

Miller also hopes the new lift will bring in revenue to fund construction of a bigger lodge and other improvements. His proposals for a new lodge and the introduction of night skiing are further down the road; they’re part of a master plan submitted to the Forest Service which must go through a lengthy approval process.

Get News Alerts delivered directly to you.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Load comments