Many readers are commenting(and I’m lamenting) about the Smith-Dorrien xc ski trails. The Smith-Dorrien trails(also known as the Chester-Sawmill trails) were last groomed for xc skiing in 2008. My records indicate that I last skied there on Dec 1 of that year.
Located along the Smith-Dorrien road(also known as the Spray Lakes road), the trails were accessed either from Chester Lake or Sawmill trailheads, but you’ve likely deciphered that already.
In the years that I skied on them, 1999 – 2008, I believe they were groomed only in the early season if there was no snow at Ribbon creek(If Jeff is reading this, maybe he can confirm that theory, or poke holes in it). I know they weren’t groomed every year in that time period. The yellow and blue trails were groomed in their entirety at one time, but in the last five or six years, only the blue and a portion of the upper yellow were maintained.
They were fabulous and I enjoyed skiing there immensely. Skiing the perimeter loop was about 16K, and I would have to rate it on a par with the Whiskey jack-Tyrwhitt-Elk pass loop in PLPP. Varied terrain with lots of hills, a few long, fast downhills, meadows, creek crossings and spectacular scenery. There was one hairpin turn at the bottom of a hill that I seldom was able to negotiate until I learned to slow down.
Occasionally the Chester Lake loop was also groomed.
I remember the steep hill descending to James Walker creek. On one occasion, I was skiing with a friend who had an accident on that hill. Warren somehow lost a ski as he was rocketing downhill, and being behind me, I didn’t realize what happened, so finally turned around and went back to find him. He was retrieving the wayward ski from a snowbank but otherwise was unscathed.
A scene I will never forget was the rare sighting of a family of Lynx as we were driving home from skiing on these trails. Mom and her two offspring were on the road and in no hurry to move, so we got a good close-up look. I finally got my camera out and took a photo as they were scampering up the hill at the side of the road.
Photos from the Smith-Dorrien ski trails: