Tabernash: Devil’s Thumb Cross Country Ski Area
December 26, 2007
Nordic skiing and deep relaxation seem be contradictory activities, but not at the Devil’s Thumb Ranch where both are beautifully merged for everyone to enjoy.
Nestled in the Ranch Creek Valley with the mountains of the Continental Divide rising to the east, Devil’s Thumb Ranch is world famous for its Cross Country Ski Center and its extensive and beautifully designed trail system. For more than three decades, it has been a mecca for serious Nordic skiers, as well as casual weekend cross-country skiers.
And what was already a great place to ski has only gotten better in the past few years with major improvements to both its trail system and ranch facilities.
“Our trail system was expanded two years ago to a total of 125 kilometers,” said Igor Guziur, Devil’s Thumb’s new activities director. “Some incredible new trails have been developed.”
Most of those new trails are on the southeastern part of the Devil’s Thumb property.
They include easy, intermediate and expert trails.
“If there is one trail that every advanced and expert skier should check out, it is our new Lactic Grande Trail,” Guziur said. “It takes some time and sweat to get to the top, but it’s worth it. From there, you get some beautiful views of Byers Peak, the Winter Park ski area and the whole Fraser Valley.”
While the resort’s trail system is a must for the serious skier to experience, it is also a place where the casual day skier or a family on a weekend outing can also thoroughly enjoy.
“Devil’s Thumb offers a great variety of skiing for everyone,” Guziur said. “It’s a great place for recreational skiers to come and enjoy a half-day tour, have lunch and relax.”
One of the unique aspects of its trail system is that it has a warming hut and two yurts that are strategically located along its outer edges. Recreational skiers can ski out to them, go inside to warm up in front of their fireplaces, eat lunch and wax their skis before heading back to the ranch’s lodging area.
“The yurts and warming hut have plenty of stacked wood for the fireplaces,” Guziur said. “They also have sofas where people can sit by the fire and relax for awhile. I think it’s a really nice feature that we have here at Devil’s Thumb.”
Another feature of Devil’s Thumb’s cross-country trail system is its lighted two-mile ski loop which the public can enjoy at night. For those who have never cross-country skied under the lights at night, it’s a special treat.
“It was designed for our guests, but it’s also open to the public and they are welcome,” Guziur said. “The lighted loop is mostly in the valley and the terrain is mellow for night skiing.”
One of the trails that every Devil’s Thumb enthusiast always awaits its opening is the “Black 10,” which is famous among Nordic skiers as the most physically-challenging and technically-demanding 10 kilometers of trail in the nation.
“The Black 10 is finally open again after some logging to remove beetle-killed trees,” Guziur said. “The loggers did a good job and there’s no impact to the trail. The Black 10 is a real expert’s trail and (skiers) just love it.”
And what would a great trail system be without expert grooming? Devil’s Thumb has that, too. Its state-of-the-art grooming equipment creates sculpted tracks for Nordic classical ski technique, as well as packed lanes for the skating technique.
“One of the great things here is that we now have two Piston Bull Groomers that really
take care of the trail grooming,” Guziur said. “Our guests will find plenty of fresh classic tracks along with great skating lanes. With two feet of snow on our trails now, conditions are excellent.”
The Devil’s Thumb Cross Country Center also offers a staff of well-trained, friendly and knowledgeable instructors ready to assist the public.
“Our eight ski instructors have years of experience and are ready to help,” Guziur said. “They can get an absolute novice skier started correctly, as well as giving pointers on how to improve the technique of advanced skiers.”
Devil’s Thumb has one of the most beautiful and tastefully-done rental/retail cross-country ski shops to be found anywhere. Its staff has technicians who can help properly fit people with the correct clothing and ski equipment.
“Our shop offers a full retail line and can help people with the clothing and gear they need to enjoy cross-country skiing,” Guziur said.
While the sport of Nordic skiing is a major focus of its wintertime activities, Devil’s Thumb’s has another side. It’s also a great place to relax, either after a day of skiing or for no other reason than to get away from it all to enjoy oneself.
One of the relaxing aspects of the Devil’s Thumb experience is literally right next to its ski shop. Its outdoor geo-thermally heated pool and hot tubs are an immediate draw to both the tired skier or the guest who wants to enjoy a good hot soak.
“You can ski and soak here,” Guziur said. “You can come to ski and then enjoy the pool and hot tubs, or you can just come here to relax.”
The relaxation side of Devil’s Thumb Ranch is further enhanced by its Ranch Creek Spa, currently located adjacent to the ski shop. Under the direction of Faye Hutchins, the spa offers facials, reflexology, aromatherapy and customized massages.
On Jan. 25, the Ranch Creek Spa will be moving to its new larger facility in a nearby building, but will continue its current offerings along with new treatment rooms, a steam room, hot tubs and relaxation areas. Private yoga sessions are also planned.
Adding to the relaxation aspect of Devil’s Thumb is its five-star Ranch House Restaurant. The ranch is also opening its new 53-room lodge this winter.
“We’re really proud of our new environmentally-friendly facilities and amenities here,” Guziur said. “Come on out and enjoy this great place, which has only gotten better.”
For more information on the Devil’s Thumb Cross Country Center, spa or restaurant, call (970) 726-8231.
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