Park City readies first-ever City Park cross-country skiing track
Park City plans to turn part of City Park into a destination for those on skinny skis this winter.
City Hall for the first time will groom a cross-country skiing track at the park. It will be free, something that could be attractive to beginner cross-country skiers and people who want to spend perhaps just a little time after work on a course without having to pay.
The track will essentially circle the ball fields, hugging the perimeter of an area that sees little use in the winter. A beginner area designed for someone to learn the sport will be groomed in what is the infield of the softball diamond.
The track and the beginner area will not provide expansive options, but officials see them as providing another recreation alternative in the winter nonetheless. The track will open at daylight and the City Park lights will be used starting at 4:30 p.m. to extend the hours. The lights will be turned off at 7 p.m. It is a pilot program.
“This will allow for after school youth programs and residents who work during daylight hours the ability to safely participate in cross-country and similar recreational opportunities,” a City Hall report recently submitted to Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council says.
Heinrich Deters, the trails and open space program manager at City Hall, said officials have received comments for years about the lack of cross-country skiing options as it gets dark. The tracks at the Park City Golf Club and McPolin Farm are not lighted. Other popular places for cross-country skiing on City Hall-owned open space like Round Valley and the McPolin Farm are also dark at night.
“It has grown tremendously,” Deters said about the sport, noting the expansion of programs for youngsters. “It’s very, very popular.”
He said the track at City Park could disperse some of the crowds in the other popular cross-country locations. City Park traditionally “lies dormant for wintertime,” Deters said, even as he describes the park’s central location. The report to the elected officials says the track is meant to “provide a sustainable winter recreational experience for residents and visitors alike.”
The lights will be used from Dec. 15 until Jan. 31 since it stays light longer by then as spring approaches. The track will continue to be groomed until the cross-country skiing season ends, which is typically in late March or April. It is not clear when City Hall intends to open the track as the region suffers through a relatively dry start to the winter.
“It’s a good idea. Night skiing offers one more opportunity to get out after work,” said Charlie Sturgis, the executive director of Mountain Trails Foundation. “Maybe mom and kids getting out even after dinner.”
Sturgis anticipates the pilot program “probably will prove itself worthy.”
He said the cross-country track and beginner area at City Park will provide a nice place to learn the sport, noting the land there is flat. Sturgis said, though, City Hall would need to extend the track at City Park and provide facilities like a changing area to substantially increase the popularity.
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