The Girdwood Nordic Ski Club developed a plan that was dormant for fifteen years – a sustainable Nordic/multi-use trail system in the Glacier-Winner Creek Valley.
The proposition of building Nordic ski trails in the Girdwood Valley has been tossed around for years. The community of Girdwood even established a 10 Kilometer cross-country ski trail at one time. In 1969, Girdwood hosted the Junior Nationals on the Alyeska Racing Trails built by community volunteers, the Anchorage Ski Club, and Army National Guard. These trails existed for approximately a decade before fading back into the forest. For an interesting article of the history of the 1969 Junior Nationals Nordic Ski Trail, compiled by Tim Kelley for the Alaska Lost Ski Areas Project (ALSAP).
One of our favorite images of Girdwood’s rich Nordic trail history: Shirley Firth racing in the 1969 Junior nationals in Girdwood, courtesy alsap.org.
The 2006 Winner Creek Trails Feasibility Study (The Boutet Company), compiled the most accurate measure of community support. With the positive results from this study, the Girdwood Community thought the trails would be constructed in 2008.
After researching successful models of Nordic clubs throughout Alaska and Pacific Northwest, the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club (GNSC) was formed in 2008. With a diverse group of trail builders, ski instructors, Olympians, and professionals, this group planned to design, construct, and operate a Nordic multi-use trail system in the Girdwood Valley. The popularity of Nordic skiing, biking, and hiking are on the increase. More and more alpine resorts in the U.S. offer a four-season trail system. The Alyeska Resort has indeed increased efforts in developing hiking and biking trails.
The trails have been designed by Jim Galanes. Jim Galanes is a three-time national champion, a former World Cup and Olympic Nordic skier, former director and head coach of Alaska Pacific University’s elite Nordic ski team. He has helped design many notable trails including the Andrew Lekisch Trail (Kincaid) and Spencer Loop at Hillside.
We had the unanimous support from:
- Girdwood 20/20
- Girdwood Land Use Committee (43-0)
- Girdwood Board of Supervisors
- Girdwood, Inc.
- Heritage Land Bank Advisory Commission
Other reports and studies showing an interest in multi-use trail systems in Girdwood are:
- Turnagain Arm Management Plan (1994) has “highly recommended” development of a cross-country ski network as part of an overall approach towards trail implementation of a four-season trail system.
- The Girdwood Area Plan (1995) states, “preserving significant open space and ensuring public use and access” is important as a destination resort community.
- Trail and Open Space Project (2001, Land Design North) reiterates the importance of the trail network in Girdwood as an important cultural resource.
- Glacier/Winner Creek Resort Development Land Use Plan (2006) “Work with local, state, and federal organizations and private-sector interests to identify financing mechanisms that leverage public interests with the development program. Good examples of this may include the implementation of the Nordic trail system…”
- According to the Girdwood Area Plan 2007 survey, the community has almost as many supporters of Nordic skiing as alpine skiing (41% Nordic; 52% alpine). The community has voted twice in favor of the Nordic trails and written numerous Letters of Support.
- A vote of support from the Girdwood Trials Committee (July 08) passed 7-1; no abstentions: The Trails Committee supports the formation of the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club as a 501(c)(3) in its efforts to create, operate, and maintain Nordic and non-motorized multi-use trails in Girdwood.
- A vote of support, and pledged financial support from Girdwood 20/20 (10/08)
- A vote of support, and financial support through use of established 501(c)(3) status from Girdwood Inc, (Oct. 08)
- A vote of support at Girdwood Land Use Committee (vote 43-0) (Nov. 08)
- A vote of support, and a letter of resolution from the Girdwood Board of Supervisors. (Dec. 08)
- A grant award from the Girdwood Parks and Recreation Grant for non-profit recreation organizations. (2009)
- Nonprofit management from The Foraker Group. (Oct., Nov. 2008)
- A grant award from the Girdwood Parks and Recreation Grant for non-profit recreation organizations. (2010)
- State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources Recreational Trail Grant (2009)
- State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources Recreational Trail Grant (2010)
- Rasmuson Foundation Award (2010)
- NPS – Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance and Funding
- KMTANHA Funding for Historical and Informative Signage
- Alaska Legislative Funding
- State of Alaska DNR Recreational Trail Grant (2012)
- Forest Service RAC Funding (2011, 2012)