VIDEO: Prime time arrives for Nordic skiing on Rabbit Ears Pass near Steamboat |

VIDEO: Prime time arrives for Nordic skiing on Rabbit Ears Pass near Steamboat

It was 24 years ago that Dave Mark, inspired the Routt County Nordic community and officials of the Hahn’s Peak Ranger District of the Routt National Forest to create an early-season, cross country ski trail on Rabbit Ears Pass, that often provides the earliest groomed skiing in the region. Bruce’s Trail is also a memorial to Mark’s late friend Bruce Ablin. Courtesy photo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Early November 2017 is turning out to be one of those special seasons in Steamboat, when Nordic skiers can enjoy excellent conditions along Bruce’s Trail on Rabbit Ears Pass well in advance of the arrival of winter on the Yampa Valley floor.

On Tuesday, for the second morning in a row, a volunteer from the Steamboat Springs Nordic Council made the 14-mile drive up to 9,400-feet elevation on Rabbit Ears to buff out 4-plus inches of fresh snow on top of a solid base. It was Scott Myller who cranked up a snowmobile and hitched it to the attachment that would transform the newly fallen snow on the 5-kilometer — 3.1 mile — trail to soft corduroy.

Bruce’s Trail is one of nine marked cross country skiing trails on Rabbit Ears recognized by the Routt National Forest, but Bruce’s stands out this time of year for the opportunity to try the classic and skate techniques of cross country skiing, when touring centers in the valley 2,700 feet below, don’t have sufficient snow to open.

Built 24 years ago, in 1993, Bruce’s Trail is also a memorial to the late Steamboat resident Bruce Ablin, who died in a bicycling accident here in 1992.



It was Ablin’s close friend, Dave Mark, (he travels the world as the wax technician and assistant coach for the U.S. Paralympic Nordic Team), who provided the impetus for the construction of Bruce’s Trail.  And this week, Mark also recalled the late, great, Nordic coach and trial builder, Sven Wiik, who lent his expertise to the building of the trail

There are years when “Bruce’s time” never arrives. Sometimes it’s because there isn’t sufficient  late October or early November snow on Rabbit Ears.

Other years it’s because the snow comes so suddenly in the valley, that Bruce’s trail becomes an afterthought.

This year, it’s  already prime time on Bruce’s. By 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 7, there were 13 cars in the parking lot on a Tuesday morning.

“I think Sven and Bruce Ablin would be proud to see this truly public trail provide some of the best early season skiing in the US each year,” Mark wrote in a Facebook post this week. “It is going to be a great weekend at Bruce’s. Thank a groomer!”

And if you head up to Bruce’s Trail this weekend, don’t be surprised if you notice a member of the U.S. Ski Team zipping by you on the trail. It happens every November when Bruce’s Trail is in its prime.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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