There are several great options for cross-country skiing in the Marble area. For skiers who like to go into the backcountry, one of the most popular routes is an US Forest Service road that takes off to the south side of the McClure Pass summit on Highway 133. Skiers start at an elevation of about 9,000 feet and climb to about 9,800 feet in 6.5 miles. This road is not groomed, so the conditions can vary widely from day to day. Some days snowmobiles have been on the trail and the skiing will be well packed. Other days no one has been up there and the trail may be all powder.
You will ski or skate ski through tall stands of spruce, a forest of aspens, and some scenic meadows. There is no avalanche danger along this trail. It is a dirt road in the summer that accesses several cabins at the base of Chair Mountain. It is skiable on public land from mid-November to mid- to late April. At the point you come to a second gate, which is open, the property is all private and you should not go any farther without permission from the property owners. At the second gate you are ready to turn around and have a fun downhill ski back out. There are a variety of users on the trail: skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobiles. On weekends it can be crowded. There are some great viewpoints of Chair Mountain along the way, so make sure to take your camera.
Another area is the Huntsman Ridge Trail. This trail is for experienced skiers only. The trail starts east of the summit of McClure Pass and the trail runs to the north. This is a backcountry telemarking experience. You will need skins and metal edges to enjoy this trail. Again, you will start at an elevation of about 9,000 feet and follow the old jeep road. When the aspen trees begin to thin and turn into parks, you will leave the old road and head right from the road towards the top of the ridge. In about one mile, with a 1,000-foot climb in elevation, you reach the top of the Huntsman’s Ridge. You will swear you are on top of the world. Looking from the ridge, to the east lies Bear Creek Basin with Mt. Sopris towering in the background. A few very experienced and avalanche trained skiers have skied Bear Creek under the right snow conditions. You must have had avalanche training classes and ski with avalanche gear, including beepers, to attempt this ski!
To the south are Chair Mountain and the upper Crystal River Valley. To the west is the Grand Mesa. The area to the west has no avalanche danger. Just enjoy the view and start up the ridge. On your left hand side there are several parks that are safe and a fun ski back down to the old road. When you come to the old road you will ski toward the south to the trail that you left before going to the ridge. You can make as many trips as your legs and your heart desire.
When skiing back down, you must ski near the road that you came up on. If you continue down from the bottom of the parks you will have several deep ravines that you will have to cross before reaching your vehicle. Many skiers have learned this by experience, and it’s a rough slog back down to the highway.
In the spring, Bear Creek creates a waterfall as it cascades into the Crystal River along Highway 133. When there is fresh snow the skiing is unbelievable. Huntsman’s Ridge runs north and south, and the skiing is on a west-facing slope. After a few days of warm sun, the skiing may not be good.
Next is Bogan Flats Campground. This doubles as a national forest campground in the summer. The trail is located about one mile east of Highway 133 on Gunnison County Road #3 towards Marble. This trail was the old road to the town of Marble while the railroad was still in operation. This trail is about 1.5 miles long and is not groomed. You can see most of this trail from Gunnison County Road #3. If no one has been on it before you the conditions will be deep powder. This is a very beautiful area along the banks of the beautiful Crystal River. There is no avalanche danger along this trail. It is hilly and fun when it is packed, but you may encounter trees, logs and other debris on the trail.
Skiers and snowshoers can enjoy excellent conditions, breathtaking views, and relaxed hospitality while skiing in Marble. There are also many luxury golf courses in the area, that groom their trails for skiers in the winter, see our golf page for more information.