The Black Lake area is among many scenic jewels in the Anthony Lakes area, one offering breathtaking vistas of the Elkhorns.
Six of the 16 Nordic trails at Anthony Lakes are open for cross country skiing. They are Anthony Lake Loop, 1.1 miles; Lily Pad trail, 1.7 miles; College trail, 1.3 miles; College Extension trail, 1.8 miles; Gunsight Trail, 1.2 miles and Campground Loop, .4 miles.
Nordic skiers will find Black Lake a little less breathtaking this winter, however.
The Black Lake area’s beauty is not dimming but a new trail to it from Black Meadow is now in place. Fewer cross country skiers will find themselves gasping for air after reaching Black Lake this winter because of a new trail. The trail, at least a mile long, will make it easier for skiers to reach the scenic site.“It will allow skiers to reach Black Lake without having to cover as much steep terrain or to break through fresh snow,’’ said Richard Knowles, director of the Ski Anthony Lakes Nordic Center.
Informally known as Black Lake Connector, the new trail is a single-track path that will be periodically groomed. The trail is not open yet. But six of the 16 in the Anthony Lakes Nordic Area are: Anthony Lake Loop, 1.1 miles; Lily Pad trail, 1.7 miles; College trail, 1.3 miles; College Extension trail, 1.8 miles; Gunsight Trail, 1.2 miles and Campground Loop, .4 miles.
The trails are all skiable, but skiers need to be ready for early season conditions. Skiers should watch for exposed rocks and trees.
Early season grooming is progressing smoother than in the past because of a new small snocat Ski Anthony Lakes has obtained. The smaller snocat makes it possible to groom trails when there is a limited amount of snow.
“It can sneak around trees and rocks,’’ Knowles said.
A large groomer will be used later in the season when there is more snow.
The addition of Black Lake Connector has extended the trail network in the Anthony Lakes Nordic Area to about 26 miles. The network includes two snowshoe trails, a 1.8-mile route to Hoffer Lake and a 1.5-mile route to Black Lake. These trails are not groomed but have poles and are marked. Knowles encourages all snowshoers to use these trails and to avoid Nordic trails. He explained that there is a greater risk of collisions when skiers and snowshoers share trails.
Snowshoers can become the accidental targets of fast-moving skiers.
“It can be very dangerous for both,’’ Knowles said.
It also not good for snowshoers to use ski trails because they disrupt them.
Snowshoers will have more than their own trails this winter. They also will have a race. The first snowshoe race in recent memory will be conducted Jan. 10 as part of the annual Elkhorn Classic cross country ski race. Skiers and snowshoers will start at the same time and site but take different routes. Snowshoers will race to Black Lake and back on a course that is at least five miles.
The Anthony Lakes Nordic Area accommodates the needs of not only snowshoers but those who like to bring dogs. People with canines are encouraged to use the 5.3-mile Elkhorn Byway Trail. The trail is good for dogs because it is wide and has relatively little traffic, Knowles said. Skiers are encouraged not to bring dogs on the other trails since there is not enough room for them.
Ski Anthony Lakes’ Nordic Area opened in mid-November but is on a limited schedule. It will next be open Saturday and Sunday. Once there is a heavy snowfall and full winter operational hours start it will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday though Sunday.
For more information call Ski Anthony Lakes at 541-856-3277 or visit its website at www.skianthonylakes.com