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MacDonald Pass boasts an extensive Nordic Ski trail system

Posted at 1:21 PM, Feb 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-15 13:40:41-05

HELENA – When temperatures drop to sub-zero levels for days on end, going outside doesn’t always sound appealing. But there are some outdoor recreationists who don’t let the cold keep them cooped up.

You’ve likely driven past it before. MacDonald Pass is home to a Nordic Ski area with over 10 miles of trail.

Larry Dolan, a volunteer with the club, said the ski trails are a longstanding tradition in the Helena area.  “There are people who have come up here and learned to ski and now bring their kids here,” Dolan said.

The Last Chance Nordic Ski Club has taken care of the trails for a generation and it’s no small feat. A crew of eight groomers works to lay tracks for the hundreds of skiers who visit each week. Grooming the entire trail system takes two to three hours, depending on the weather conditions.

MacDonald Pass Nordic Skiing
MacDonald Pass is home to a Nordic Ski area with over 10 miles of trail. (MTN News photo)

Montana’s winters and powdery snow can make for great cross-country skiing.

Nordic Skiing is a great way to stay active in the winter, but what gets people hooked is about more than just a workout.

Emmett Purcell, another volunteer groomer, said it’s “a fun way to enjoy winter. When we get out here in a bit – it’s just so beautiful.” He also noted that “MacDonald pass is a little gem.”

The Last Chance Nordic Ski club also grooms the Bill Roberts golf course in the winter for cross-country skiing. Information on trail conditions and how to become a member can be found on their website.

-Katie Alexander reporting for MTN News