Cross country skiers take advantage of heavy snow season

Published 7:51 am Thursday, January 6, 2011

With snow plentiful and costs lower, cross-country skiers have been out in force at the Hormel Nature Center this winter.

So far this season, the Nature Center has rented cross-country skis to 223 children and 196 adults. Children’s ski rentals cost $1 this year, and adults $6. Plus, thanks to a $5,000 gift to the skiing program, adults this year do not need to purchase a state ski pass to use the Nature Center trails.

“You’re seeing that reduced fee on the adults – that ski pass you don’t have to buy – you’re seeing the benefit of that,” Nature Center Director Larry Dolphin told the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Board at its Wednesday meeting.

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When the Nature Center must rely on state grants to maintain its ski trails, skiers are required to buy the state trail pass. But because it has been able to operate the program without state funds this year, the pass isn’t required.

Thus, for skiers who already have their own equipment, there is no cost to use the Nature Center trails.

December’s generous snowfall has also helped encourage skiers. “Our trails, right after Christmas, were like what you see in a magazine,” Dolphin told the board. Although rain right before New Year’s crusted the snow some, the trails remain in good condition, he said.