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Hillcrest open for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing

Hillcrest Golf Club was open to cross-country skiing in the winter of 2012-13, but hadn’t been open since then – until Friday, when the course opened following Thursday’s snowstorm.

Snow spread across the Durango area well into the evening on New Year’s Day.

Word soon followed.

“It was packed,” Will Herz, assistant superintendent at Hillcrest Golf Club, said of the long-awaited opening Friday of cross-country skiing at HGC. “Then I got about 40 phone calls, and the parking lots were packed. I guess word spread.”

It was a quick turnaround for Herz and Hillcrest, which didn’t have sufficient snow until Thursday, when about 7 inches fell in and around Durango. Herz groomed the course while it was snowing Thursday, then again Friday morning, opening it to cross-country skiers Friday at about 9:30 a.m., he said. It was the first time in two years HGC was open to cross-country skiing – there wasn’t sufficient snow to open last year.

“There’s a big loop that’s about 5 kilometers and a couple of little inter-loops, so 5 to 7 kilometers of skiing,” Herz said. “The clubhouse parking lot is one entrance, and the lower parking lot by the practice area and the 17th tee (is another). There’s heated bathrooms and a changing room – that’s a nice facility there at the bottom. And the trail weaves all the way around the golf course. It’s skinny right now. We’d take a foot of snow.”

Besides cross-country skiers, snowshoers also are welcome. But leave the dogs and the fat-tire bikes at home, please, Herz said.

“A few years ago we invited snowshoers, and they behaved themselves,” he said, adding that they’re welcome along the side of the skate lane and classic track. “But we don’t want people rolling out there on their fat bikes. It gets warmer in town than it does higher up. The snow gets soft. Bikes will leave ruts. It would be a melee up there.

“I hate saying ‘no, no, no.’ I hate to be inclusive, but you have to have some rules. And people should stay on the trails, too. We’re trying to protect the (golf) course at the same time.”

Herz said informative signs are posted at HGC, along with a donation box at each parking area. No pressure, he said, but “It would be nice to get a little help” through donations.

Herz, who along with HGC superintendent Ken Kirby will keep up the trails as long as there’s snow, said trail conditions will be updated daily and may be accessed by calling 259-0424. Besides the classic track, there’s also a skate lane. Herz said he used an 84-inch groomer to carve out that trail – “almost two-full wide.”

Herz said mostly classic skiers showed up Friday – but some skaters, and likely even some snowshoers. And, as is the norm, Herz said, people of all ages enjoyed the course.

“I love the multiple-age use out there,” he said. “And I’m amazed at how people will say, ‘What’s it like at Hillcrest in the summer?’ And (golfers) in the summer will say, ‘Do you get people there in the winter?’ It’s two worlds. It’s the coolest thing.”

bpeterson@durangoherald.com

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