It would not be an overstatement to say that the state of Idaho has some of the best cross country skiing in the country. I had the opportunity to discover this last winter on a whirlwind tour visiting several of the Gem State’s top Nordic skiing venues. And a truly diverse menu of offerings they are, ranging from the alpine integrated system of Bogus Basin to the extensive area-wide trail networks of Sun Valley, to the high-end ambiance of Tamarack Resort to the down home club and state park trails in McCall.
One could easily construct an ambitious Nordic skiing vacation (or two) from all of these trails, not to mention other trails around the state that I did not visit during my trip. Boise would be the logical starting point, either by air or auto. From there it’s a three to four hour drive to the Ketchum/Sun Valley area and only two hours up to the McCall area, with multiple options along the way.
Only 30 minutes from downtown Boise, the 32 km of Nordic ski trails at Bogus Basin are well integrated with its alpine operation. The entire Bogus Basin area is operated by the Bogus Basin Mountain Recreational Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide the highest quality skiing experience and other year-round recreational opportunities to the greatest number of Treasure Valley residents.
While positioned more as a “local” ski area, the Bogus Nordic area is a worthy destination unto itself. Unlike cross country ski trails at some alpine areas, the Bogus Basin Nordic trails are not treated like a poor step-child, bolstered in part by the enthusiastic support of the Boise Nordic Foundation. Comprised of the Nordic Group and the Bogus Basin Nordic Team subcommittees, its mission is to support and expand Nordic ski opportunities and education for people of all ages and abilities at Bogus Basin.
The view from the Bogus Nordic ski trails can't be beat.
Arriving at the Bogus Basin ski trails, the first thing you see is a very impressive day lodge facility, the Frontier Point Lodge. This attractive contemporary structure is far more than a “warming cabin.” A sizeable building (upwards of 7,000 square feet), it has ample space for meetings and special events as well as the more traditional duties of a Nordic center. The lodge is also home to the Bogus Basin Nordic Team, the Boise area’s junior development ski racing program, and houses the team locker room. Healthy snacks are prepared by parents of the Nordic ski team and sold as a fund raiser.
The Bogus Basin trails start at about 6,200 feet and extend up to 6,700 feet. The amply wide Nordic Highway provides the central artery of the system from which several spur trails divert both up and down. This is mountain skiing for sure, with long gradual climbs and reciprocating descents along the Nordic Highway. A steep switchback climb up Shafer Butte Extension to a picnic ground provides a view of the backside of the ski hill, with a quick, twisty return trip.
The Nordic Highway, as it contours around the mountain and climbs to the far end of the system, offers some truly awesome panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges and valleys. The lower trails at Bogus Basin have a much more undulating Midwest feel about them, snaking up, along and down wooded ridge lines, dropping into deeper holes and offering fun, more technical turns and descents. The trails at Bogus Basin were all very well groomed – on a par with any commercial Nordic center in the mountain West.
One of the most significant attributes of the Bogus Basin Nordic Trail system is the result of an initiative of the Nordic Group to provide solar powered lights along the trails. This is certainly the most aggressive initiative of its kind and an inspiring effort undertaken by the Nordic ski advocates at Bogus Basin. A much more detailed profile of the Bogus Basin solar lighting program appears in The Advocate’s Corner in this issue.
For more info:
Bogus Basin Mountain Resort
2600 Bogus Basin Road
Boise, ID 83702
Ponderosa State Park
Bear Basin/Payette Lakes Ski Club
McCall, ID 83638
North Valley Trails/Blaine County Recreation District
1050 Fox Acres Road
Hailey, ID 8333
HC 64, Box 8326
Ketchum, ID 8326
Sawtooth National Recreation Area
5 North Fork Canyon Road
Ketchum, ID 83340
Boulder Mountain Tour
P.O. Box 173
Sun Valley, ID 83353
Sun Valley Lodge/Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center
1 Sun Valley Road
Sun Valley, ID 83353