Devil’s Thumb Nordic opening depends on Wednesday snowfall |

Devil’s Thumb Nordic opening depends on Wednesday snowfall

A snow cat grooms Nordic trails at Devil's Thumb Ranch in January 2021.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch/Courtesy image

Devil’s Thumb Ranch announced last week it aimed to open its Nordic skiing trails on Thanksgiving, but Marie-Ange Anderson, the ranch’s Nordic center manager, said she had hoped they would get more snow by now. Anderson said to open tomorrow, they will need a few more inches of snow tonight.

The National Weather Service predicts 1-2 inches of snow will fall near Devil’s Thumb Wednesday night. Anderson said that while the resort has not so far gotten the snow it needs, the other component to being able to open — the temperature  — has been cooperative.

“It has to be cold,” Anderson said. “If we have enough, a few inches of snow, and the next day is going to be 45 or 50 degrees, all of it will melt.”

Last year, the resort did not open until late December, according to Anderson. She said the temperatures were too high and inconsistent early in the season last year to open the trails.

The trails do not need several feet of snow to be skiable. Anderson said the Nordic center does not have an exact number that they wait for snow totals to reach before opening — it’s more of a judgment call. She says that because they mow the trails in the fall, it only takes around 8 inches of snow for the trails to be ready.

“The idea is to get people on skis as fast as we can,” Anderson said. “It doesn’t have to be a lot of snow, but enough that it covers the rocks.”

Once the snow does come, Anderson said the groomers will start going out early, often around 4 a.m., to get the trails ready by 8 a.m. for the resort to open. The ranch’s nearly 75 miles of trails has earned the resort the top spot in USA Today’s Best Cross Country Ski Resort rankings each year from 2018-2021, and keeping the trails groomed is a bit of a complicated process.

The Devil’s Thumb website describes the 2021-22 grooming schedule, and Anderson said the resort will use the same one this year. The trails are divided into zones A through D, which all get groomed on different schedules.

Workers groom Zone A every day, Zone B on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, Zone C on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and Zone D on Friday and Saturday. The schedule makes sure every zone is groomed on Saturdays, three are groomed on Fridays and two are groomed Sunday through Wednesday.

Anderson said the resort has three snowcats to make sure all that grooming is finished before 8 a.m. daily, but sometimes if the resort gets more snow or high winds during the day, one of the groomers will go back out to fix up some trails.The resort offers lessons, rentals and equipment for purchase as well as daily trail passes. The Nordic trails should stay open until mid-April, depending on weather, according to the Devil’s Thumb website.

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