UPDATE 11/16 11:30PM
I rolled all of Sunset Hills and Highlan Glen tonight and while we did ultimately get snow, I think that storm set us back quite a bit. Sunset Hills should still provide some good skiing while Highland is still early season conditions with grass, bumps, and uneven trail. Some areas of Highland will ski better than others. About half way through the shift, the east wind came up drifting is occuring, especially at Sunset Hills. On the tail end of the wind, another wave of light snow picked up, so we may end up doing some more work early Saturday morning. Until we have a more substantial base, there is not much to be done about the drifts (if they get really bad we will shovel them), so bear with us. I think we managed to get most of this storms snow packed down before it moved.
We did not get enough snow to get going at Bridger Creek, unfortunately. Significant portions of the route were melted out before the rain, so I think the clock was reset on this one. The moisture did not help harden up the ground either.
Lets hope the rain changes to snow sooner than later today...the skiing has been great all week, if we get some snow out of this system, we will be out at Sunset Hills and Highland Glen. Assuming our old base that we skied all week survives, we should have a nice surface to work with. Highland and Sunset Skiers, please remember to park at the Softball fields, not at Lindley Center or in residential areas and elsewhere. I know the road crossing is a pain and is sketchy but its what the City has asked us to do.
We have Bridger Creek marked out (though signs are not up yet) and depending on how this storm plays out, hope to start packing there this weekend. Stay tuned. General reminders for Bridger Creek: No dogs and no bikes are allowed on the golf course and there is no foot traffic allowed on the ski trails. All parking is at the Golf Course Clubhouse off of McIllhatten Rd, not in the residential areas on Boylan Rd, please respect the residents of that neighborhood. Skiers parking on Boylan Rd is the only consistent complaint we have from Bridger Creek Golf Course so please only park at the Clubhouse!
Stay tuned for updates!
With the thin snow and warm temperatures, there is not much that we can do grooming wise. We want to avoid pulling up any grass and spreading dirt around and it will be hard to modify the snow surface without making a mess. We are waiting and watching the weather for our chance to pack more snow onto our base.
That being said, Sunset Hills is skiing very well right now! The snow is fast but has not transformed or gotten icy and while there is grass showing here and there, there is no dirt.
I also got out and skied Highland Glen this afternoon and the thin cover is holding up well. Highland is much bumpier than Sunset Hills, but the skiing is still good and the snow has stayed cold. Parts of Highland are definitely advanced to expert level skiing right now due to the early season conditions. The loops along the edge of the Ag Fields though are mich smoother for those looking for an easier ski.
On the Highland Glen note, there has been quite a bit of foot traffic, dog traffic, and some bike traffic on the groomed ski trail in Highland. If you see runners, walkers, or bikers on the ski trail, please politely remind them that the groomed trails are not open to those uses and that there are a number of trails nearby without any seasonal use restrictions. There are a lot of other trails nearby that are not groomed for skiing, such as the Main Street to the Mountains trail (which now connects to Triple Tree via Painted Hills, thanks GVLT!) and the trails around Pete's Hill.
Lastly, Thursday we are having a trails night at Lockhorn Cider House, swing by with your trail pass (or buy one there) and get a free cider and enjoy an evening with fellow skiers.
Cheers and think snow!
The snow is still trickling in and reports are of good skiing at Sunset Hills and areas of decent skiing at Highland Glen. It looks like warm weather next week so it is hard to say what we have will last through it. Our base is very thin right now and there is not enough snow to set tracks yet. That being said, we will be rolling Sunset Hills and Highland Glen tonight and I would expect good skiing out there tomorrow.
There are also reports of good skiing on the ski trails around Hyalite though the road may be rather icey and treacherous (its only been plowed once).
For the time being, please do not ski on Bridger Creek Golf Course, we are not grooming because the ground is still too warm and we want to avoid unnecessary damage to the ground. The snowmobile will pull up dirt around the corners and ski poles will even tear up the ground (I had mud on mine after skiing Sunset Hills this week).
Mark your calendars for our pint night at Lockhorn Cider house on the 15th and go enjoy the trails!
This morning I went out and rolled all of Sunset Hills and Lindley Pavilion. Early season work like this is mainly for the purpose of building our base. There is quite a bit of grass showing but that is much better than dirt and rocks. Coverage in some areas is much better than others but it is definitely ski-able, so get the rock skis out and give it a whirl!
Our other venues need a little more snow before we start working on them: Bridger Creek in order to protect the golf course from undue damage and Highland Glen because the trail surface is very bumpy and the grass is a little longer.
Sourdough and Hyalite Grooming will start on December 2nd per our agreement with the Forest Service.
A couple of early season reminders: There is no foot traffic (walkers or runners), dogs, or biking allowed on our groomed ski trails in town, even when there isn't much snow and we have only just started grooming. Fortunately, there are lots of trail alternatives for other uses right in the vicinity of our in town trails and our friends at Gallatin Valley Land Trust have some great maps on their website and at kiosks around town.
Grooming is a lot of work and we couldn't do it without support from the community, please consider buying a voluntary trail pass from BSF to help support our community trails! We have a couple of trails events coming up, see our calendar for more details.
Trails are mowed and marked out, fences are up, and our machines are ready. It looks like accumulating snow over the next few days, we'll see what we get. The ground has not frozen yet, but if we get a few inches we will start packing Sunset Hills and possibly Highland Glen.
Bridger Creek is always tempting early, but please stay off of the golf course until we start grooming there. Hopefully that will be soon!
Sourdough and Hyalite won't see work until December 2nd but that doesn't mean you can't go for an adventure up there!
On another note, please consider buying a community trail pass. Grooming ski trails is a lot of work and we could not do it without your support! We are having a trail pass night at Lockhorn Cider House on November 15th from 5-8pm, bring in your pass (or buy one there!) and get a free cider!
Also, our friends at Friends of Hyalite are having a pint night at Bridger Brewing on November 26th. Without them, the road would not be plowed and we would not have the skiing access that we do up there! Support the nonprofits that make all this possible--it's the Bozeman way.
Stay tuned for more updates!
Whew! That was a LONG grooming season. November 3rd to March 31st. We hope you enjoyed the trails.
Because it takes a village to keep these community ski trails going ...
This crew worked long, often cold hours and took great pride in providing some of the best in-town skiing in the country. Thanks, guys!
Bridger Creek Golf Course, Bozeman Health, Montana State University, Custer-Gallatin National Forest, Gallatin Valley Land Trust, City of Bozeman Parks & Recreation, BSF, Run Dog Run, Sacajawea Middle School, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
Excel Physical Therapy, Yellowstone Bank, Barnard Construction, First Security Bank, Alpine Surveying and Engineering, George L. Ohrstrom Jr. Foundation, Bozeman Area Community Foundation, Elite Physical Therapy, and Split Rock Foundation.
Bangtail, Chalet Sports, Roundhouse Sports, BSF office.
The only way BSF has the funding to groom is through donations, trail pass sales, and grants. YOU make it happen. Thank you!
Looking at the weather and trail usage patterns, the plan as of now will be to groom Sourdough Wednesday night and again on Friday night/ Saturday morning. If it seems worth while, I may do some quick snowmobile grooming Wednesday morning but with snow showers forecast through the morning hours, it looks like night grooming will be the most productive, especially with Wednesday and Friday nights looking to be the coldest of the week. Check back for updates.
There is still slushy skiing around town if you are looking for something closer by.
SUNDAY UPDATE: Even before the snowfall Saturday morning, Sourdough was in very good shape. Water Ice was limited to a couple spots in the first half mile or so and rather than bare patches, the trail had simply gotten narrow in the sun exposed areas. The whole trail (including down the to the Moser TH in Hyalite) was graded and leveled with the Pisten Bully and it looks like we will have good skiing for the last week we are allowed to groom Sourdough. Our contract with the Forest Service shuts down on March 31st. Pretty cool that we are making it all the way to the end!
What a season it has been! We had good skiing in town for 2 weeks in November, then after a short melt, December all the way to this week near the end of March. Thats a first since I have been here. It didnt take long to confirm my suspicions that the warm nights, warm days, and rain had done in the town trails. Sunset hills is rapidly turning to water (there are ponds and rivers of it) and mud. Highland Glen looked thin when it was last groomed and though I was able to patch some thin spots, theres not much you can do against the warmth. Bridger Creek likewise has bare patches and ice and the clubhouse loops are down to soft water ice. So, it is looking like we are done with grooming at our in town venues for the season.
Sourdough has a mix of ice and snow in the first mile and likely some rapidly growing bare patches. We'll give it a go with the Pisten Bully tonight as I'm sure most of the trail has plenty of snow cover. The plan is to groom the whole thing, including from Moser Divide down to the Moser Trailhead, which likely has some bare and icy patches too. After that, the PB is staying on the trailer and we are likely calling it a season. Thanks for all of the support and for getting the most out of an awesome winter! Bozeman has an incredible ski community and all of us on the BSF grooming crew are happy to be a part of it. It was a lot of work this winter (though the grooming crew had a good time with it) so if you know any of the groomers or see them out and about somewhere, give them a big thank you.
While our trails continue to hold together, we are backing off the grooming throttle a touch. The trails typically soften very quickly once the sun is up with the warm days and by afternoon they are nearly slush. The skiing has been quite good though lately though. So with that in mind, our plan this week is to groom Sunset Hills/ Highland Glen Tuesday and Thursday and do big grooming of all of our venues for the weekend. Sourdough may get some mid-week attention around Wednesday.
Bridger Creek and Highland Glen continue to have the best quality snow for in town skiing. Bridger creek is staying very smooth and coverage is outstanding. The upper parts of Sourdough are more wintery still but the ice patches are growing every day. Sunset Hills has good cover but is likewise growing some large water ice patches.
Thank you again to every one who came out for the Hyalite Classic on Sunday, both racers and volunteers! We had a good time grooming for it despite the variable snow and man is that one sweet, old school classic ski course. There are definitely some "sporty" parts so work on your agility and come do it again next year and bring some friends along too!
Looking to the next couple days, we will put in some effort to get our trails in shape for the weekend. The warm and the wet have made a mess and in areas where we use snowmobiles, we may not be able to do much. Bridger Creek appears to be relatively intact and not have too much water ice but the spring season bare patches are showing up and spreading. Highland Glen is in remarkably good shape in terms of coverage; the first stretch from the trail head is the only real trouble spot. I did not notice any water ice and the south slopes are holding snow. So, Highland will get a good effort tomorrow and again Saturday for weekend skiing. If we get a good freeze, it should be decent spring skiing.
Sunset Hills on the other hand, has several large slush swamps and a couple significant ice patches. We will give it a stab Friday morning and there will be some decent skiing there but it is a bit ugly.
The lower part of Sourdough likewise got quite slushy with several inches of wet snow and lots of walker traffic. Joel took the roller to Mystic Lake this morning and there was plenty of fresh snow up there, its just getting through the rough miles lower down. bare patches are forming in the usual spots where the trail crosses steep hillsides and there has been persistent spring rock fall as well. We will be out in sourdough tomorrow morning trying to get the first few miles into passable shape. We will re-evaluate our next move there after completion of the morning work.
Lastly, the Forest Service is planning to groom all of the Hyalite trails tomorrow, check back for an update on how that goes. BSF is planning to host the first ever Hyalite Classic on Sunday starting at 10AM. It is a 15km race around the Reservior starting from the big day use parking area by the dam. We will re-groom our race loop, probably very early Sunday morning. I do not know the current condition of the road but my guess is there is still ice.