by Lu Snyder
It turns out Copper’s best kept secret might also be Summit County’s.
Copper is home more than 20 kilometers of Nordic trails – groomed for classic and skate skiing and snowshoeing – ranging from gently rolling greens along Copper’s golf course in the East Village, to more challenging trails that wind through the hills by Copper’s Lewis Ranch neighborhood and on into secluded forests west of the ski area. Yet despite the free and convenient access, the Nordic trails remain mostly undiscovered.
Looking for solitude? Check. Unlike the mountain, you are likely to have the Nordic trails all to yourself.
The trails on the west side of the resort wind up the flanks of Vail Pass, through thick spruce and fir forests and sunny, snow-filled meadows, with an occasional glimpse of Ten Mile Creek gurgling below. Head out on a freshly groomed day or one with a fresh dusting of snow and you are more likely to see tracks of wildlife than those of another human. Keep an eye out for ermine, snowshoe hare, porcupine, fox, or other wildlife that make their homes in these high alpine forests.
When the fresh snow clings to the tree branches, it’s so spectacularly beautiful and serene, it’s like being in a postcard.
Copper’s Nordic trail system serves up anything you might want: from easy beginner to steep and challenging climbs and descents and fast, tight turns through the trees. The only catch: you’ll need to bring your own skis. If you don’t have your own skis, you can rent from Frisco Nordic Center, Wilderness Sports, in Dillon, or Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge.
Snowshoe rentals are available at Union Creek Guest Services for $20. Copper offers free showshoe tours daily; a family-friendly tour at 1 p.m. and a more advanced tour at 10 a.m.
If you are not staying at the resort, park at the free Alpine Lot. To access the Golf Course loops, follow the walking trail approximately 100 yards from the parking lot to the groomed trails. To access the West Village trails, catch the shuttle to Union Creek. The trails begin on the highway side of the roundabout, by the Union Creek pay parking lot (parking here is free after 3 p.m.)
Maps for the Nordic trails are available online here. Contact Copper's Guest Services team at 970-968-2318 for more information!