By the time December rolls around Im ready to don my cross-country skis and head out into the snowy woods. There may or may not be enough snow around Bozeman for Nordic skiing, but luckily you can always count on plenty of powder in West Yellowstone.
There are lots of ski trails around West Yellowstone but one of my familys favorites is the Riverside Trail. Actually two loop trails, the Riverside Trails are easy enough for a beginner skier, but scenic enough for anyone. Another bonus is they are often partially groomed and you an easily pull a ski trailer with your little one. (There are a couple short, steep hills, but they are walkable.)
The trails start on the east side of Boundary Street between Yellowstone and Madison Avenues. Look for the trail sign through a gap in the snowbank.
From the trailhead ski east along the power line. At 1 mile youll reach a junction.
Downriver Loop: Veer left and head down the hill toward the river. At 1.25 miles from the junction look for a sign that reads Cutoff. By turning left here, youll have a nice hill to practice Telemark turns or a shortcut to the west section of the trail. If you ski past the cutoff, continue for 1.3 miles until the trail loops back to the top of the hill. Watch for the orange markers on the trees. It is 1 more mile to the Access Trail.
Upriver Loop: Ski to the right on the road briefly, looking for the trail through the trees on the left. Wind through lodgepoles on a bench above the river. At about 0.5 miles drop down a steep 60 yards. In another 0.3 miles youll reach the Madison River. Follow the river downstream to the end of the loop and a mellow climb back to the bench.
The two loops can be combined into a 7.3-mile bigger loop (including the Access Trail).
After skiing drop by Wild West Pizzeria to warm up with pizza and beverages.
What you need to know before you go:
Check in at Free Heel and Wheel, 40 Yellowstone Ave., 406.646.7744, www.freeheelandwheel.com for more information or to rent skis.
Wild West Pizzeria, 14 Madison Ave., 406.646.4400, www.wildwestpizza.com