Howelsen Nordic trails remain open as other local centers close
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With only a few warm weeks left in the season, local Nordic centers have closed their doors, trying to do their part in limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Catamount Nordic center closed Thursday, March 12, followed by Haymaker on Sunday, March 15. After allowing season passholders to ski on groomed trails one last time on Tuesday, March 17, the Steamboat Ski Touring Center shut down as well.
“I feel so bad we can’t help people be outside and keep healthy that way, but we have to do our part as well and keep people safe,” said Birgitta Lindgren, director of Steamboat Nordic. “It’s a bummer, for sure, but we’re all in the same boat.”
The Ski Touring Center groomed limited terrain Monday night, allowing people to go right from the parking lot to the trails until 3 p.m. Tuesday, marking the end of the season.
“We’re starting to pack everything away and are begging seasonal rentals to come back in,” Lindgren said.
While seasonal renters have until April 1 to return their gear, the center is asking them to return equipment as soon as possible.
Only a couple of people are allowed in the building at a time. Otherwise, people can leave their rentals outside the door as long as they give the center a call to alert them that they’ll be dropping off equipment. While the trails will be closed, there will be people answering the phones and in the building to accept rental returns.
With the closure of the trails at the Ski Touring Center, Howelsen Hill Ski Area is the only remaining place with regularly-groomed cross country trails. The lodge will remain closed for the time being, but trails are being groomed five to six times per week, weather permitting. They will be available for both classic and skate skiing.
Some trails are softer than others due to the recent warm weather, although snow may be on the horizon to replenish the supply of snow. The groomers will keep at it as long as there is enough snow on the ground.
Steamboat Springs City Manager Gary Suiter said he made the decision to help people stay active and maintain their mental health.
“People need a break from all of the media information and the panic buying and the information overload,” Suiter said. “Part of what I’ve been preaching is to get out and do something for yourself.”
Uphill access will also be available until the city starts pushing the snow off the face of Howelsen Hill, which is part of its regular spring work. Blackmer Trail, accessible from Routt Street, is also open for hiking, snowshoeing and fat biking.
The Steamboat Springs Tennis Center stayed open a little longer than most other recreational venues, but on Monday, March 16, the center announced it will be closed from the March 17 to 30.
People can still go to the center to retrieve items from the lockers or lost and found. Those who prepaid for programs such as adult leagues, homeschool pickleball or lessons will earn a credit on their accounts for the missed activities.
Howelsen Hill concluded its 104th season last week and canceled its final Free Ski Sunday and the End-of-Year Celebration in the wake of the coronavirus, which Suiter said was a “really tough decision.”
“Go outside for a walk, watch a funny movie, do meditation, whatever your thing is to stay balanced in these trying times,” Suiter added.
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