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With Winter Here, Rail-Trails Welcome Different Uses

Although in some parts of America, January is the time when bikes and hiking boots are put away in closets and garages, in other parts of the country it heralds the beginning of an altogether different season--a time to pull out the skis, snowshoes and sleds.

Many states saw their first heavy snowfalls of the season this past weekend, great news for those who use their local rail-trail as a route for cross-country skiing, a snowmobile avenue or even a race track for their huskie teams!

In Washington, snowfalls this weekend meant supporters of the Ferry County Rail Trail (pictured, right) commenced their ski grooming program for sections of the trail that pass through the Curlew Lake area. Skiing is a popular activity on the trail this time of year, and while walking and snowshoeing are still encouraged, people are urged not to walk in tracks specially groomed for skis. The grooming is approved by the local county commission and funded by donations to the Ferry County Rail Trail Partners.

­In Southington, Conn., the town council recently endorsed a plan to leave part of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail unplowed this winterto provide trail-use opportunities for skiers.

North of the border, the Slocan Valley Heritage Trail Society, which supports the Slocan Valley Rail Trail near the town of Nelson, in British Columbia, is getting ready to host its eighth annual ski and snowshoe day on the trail, January 29. This popular event started as a way to encourage locals to discover new scenic locations on the trail but has grown into a friendly social gathering, with a diverse community get-together around a toasty bonfire. All winter long, trail society volunteers have been grooming and track-setting the entire 31-mile length of the trail.

As the palette of our landscape turns from green and brown to white, rail-trails from New Hampshire to Idaho and Oregon are welcoming a new season of users. If you haven't made a winter trip along your favorite trail, give it a try! Contact your local trail organization or recreation group for scheduled outings.

Photo courtesy of Ferry County Rail Trail Partners.

Posted Tue, Jan 24 2012 12:10 PM by Jake Lynch
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