This season marked the end of a decade-plus-long community effort to bring back and expand snowmaking at Sunset Hills, with the commissioning of a new pumphouse, 32,000-gallon cisterns, and in-ground air and water pipes for a 1.3-kilometer loop around the perimeter of the Sunset Hills trails system.
While everyone on the BSF crew and in the collective ski community had high hopes for a big snow year (indeed, a late-October blast got things started early but lasted only four days before melting out), there was no significant snowfall in town until the end of January.
Thanks to the cumulative efforts of everyone involved, snowmaking commenced on November 27, and by December 5, we had great skiing on a wide 2-way out-and-back from the pumphouse to Lindley Center.
By December 30th, the outer loop was connected, double wide and double tracked for safe skiing in either direction. We were fortunate to have a dedicated staff, amazing volunteers, and a couple of ace snowcat operators to get piles moved around efficiently as well as train the newcomers. It was a huge undertaking.
The community support was equally impressive. Right now, we have $28,000 left to fundraise to finish paying for the nearly $1 million construction project. We’re in the process of putting together a donor wall on the pump house, a community bench, and trail signs for next season. (If you’d still like to contribute to any of those donor opportunities, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The late start to winter and an increase in skier use put a lot of pressure on Sunset Hills. While Hyalite and Sourdough typically offer the best early season snow with higher elevations and more snowfall, it was December 23 before enough snow had accumulated to start grooming at these venues. Fortunately, once things got going and winter finally arrived in late January, all venues had great skiing throughout February and into early March, when the spring floods arrived.
This Community Nordic Trails program is a unique combination of public and private land, with an annual cost to BSF of $70,000 to $80,000 annually, funded by donations and grants, including a voluntary trail pass system that keeps skiing access open to everyone.
A HUGE thanks to our partners in the Community Nordic Trails: Bozeman Health (Highland Glen Nature Preserve) the City of Bozeman (Sunset Hills), Bridger Creek Golf Course, the US Forest Service (Sourdough and Hyalite), Sacajawea Middle School, Montana State University, and the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. Plus our retail partners: Heeb’s Fresh Market, Bangtail Bike & Skis, Chalet Sports, and Round House Sports. Without the support of these partnerships, the Community Nordic winter trails wouldn’t exist.
Another HUGE thanks to all of the voluntary season pass buyers, individual and corporate donors for helping fund the trails program this season.
Sponsors: Engel & Völkers, Cafe M, Excel Physical Therapy, Fast Wax, Murdoch’s, Dee-O-Gee, Barnard Construction, Postal Annex, and Oböz.
Significant funding also comes through Recreational Trails Program and Fish Wildlife and Parks Stewardship grants. Grooming and snowmaking operations would not be possible without all of this support.
Grooming Season: December 5 - March 16
Grooming Season: December 23 - March 27
Dozens of trees cleared pre-season and throughout the season after wind events.
Grooming season: January 8 - March 9
Grooming season: January 9 to March 10
p.s. May 6 & 7 is Give Big Gallatin Valley, an online fundraising event for local nonprofits. If you love your winter trails, please consider giving Bridger Ski Foundation a shoutout during Give Big and/or a donation at GiveBigGV.org.
Skiers, please be sure to contribute your feedback by filling out the Trails Survey HERE.