Freshly groomed trails offer easy gliding

The freshly groomed trails at Jamison Canyon Trailhead sparkle in the light of a clear, crisp morning. A group of volunteers groomed the new snowshoe and cross-country ski trail with Plumas-Eureka State Park’s new snowmobile and grate. The trails are open to the public and offer new views of the winter wonderland. Photos by Carolyn Carter
Carolyn Carter

  Snowshoe enthusiasts and cross-country skiers can now glide along easily through miles of winter wonderland in the Jamison Mine and Johnsville area.

  With the help of Plumas-Eureka State Park’s new snowmobile and grate and a handful of volunteers, the informal trails made with years of use have now been groomed and packed.

  The fresh trails present a smooth and easy foundation for snow pedestrians to enjoy the outdoors and see a side of the mountains normally reserved for the extreme snow devotee.

  Jay Skutt, a volunteer on the project, said the park received a $15,000 grant three years ago to purchase a snowmobile and grooming grate. For the past two seasons there either has been too much snow or not enough to really use the new equipment.

  Skutt said with the nice weather and 4-plus feet of snow, the conditions were perfect to begin grooming. The trails extend from Jamison Mine Road to the museum at the state park and cover about six miles of state park land.

  “There are about 30 – 50 people that do this all the time,” Skutt said. “They have been going on these trails for years and years — we just made it better.”

  Ken McMaster, an avid cross-country skier and snowshoer in the area, headed the project. McMaster, Skutt and Phil Kaznowski — ski and bike shop owner — partnered with the Forest Service and spent all day Jan. 2 laying both diagonal and skate skiing tracks.

  Kaznowski’s newly opened ski and bike shop, The Howling Dog in Graeagle, even offers snowshoe rental opportunities for anyone interested in exploring this new aspect of the park.

  “It’s all pretty flat,” Skutt said, “and snowshoeing is the easiest to pick up.”

  The shop is open Saturdays and by appointment. Snowshoes and poles can be rented for a day, and the crew at the shop will brief all renters on how to use the equipment.

  “It is such a different look; it’s also so pristine and quiet,” Skutt said. “It’s another great way to use the park.”

  Though the trails are open to the public, the park will be accepting donations for the maintenance of the trails. With the pileup of snow at the park, parking in the area is limited. To protect the track, dogs and snowmobiles are not allowed on the trails.

  “Of course conditions can change at any time, but we have a great base. We will continue to groom as needed,” Skutt said. “We’ve really got trails we’re proud of.”

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