Warmer, wet weather closes Nordic ski trails

By James Matthews
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

All trails maintained by the Haliburton Highlands Nordic Trails Association remain closed because of weather.

The association maintains three cross-country ski trail systems. Glebe Park has 13.5 kilometres of trail; the Twin Lakes network has seven kilometres; and the Moosewoods run has 12.5 kilometres of trail.

Thom Lambert, the association’s president, said winter sport enthusiasts enjoyed great skiing on a fairly good snow base just after Christmas. But then milder temperatures brought with the new year melted snow on local trails. As a result, there’s no way to know when the trails will be opened.

He said the association could open some of the trails with as little as five to 10 centimetres of snow.

“This time of year, one good snowfall can put us back on track,” he said. “We lost most of our base when it started raining. One of our challenges is that we have not had a good spell of very cold temperatures that would freeze the ground.”

In such conditions, the snow melts beneath itself and requires constant snowfall to accommodate skiers. Water continues to run over the thawed ground, which hastens the snow melt.

The association typically opens its trail network just after Christmas. But, even after last season’s opening on Jan. 10, the group experienced a great ski season last year.

Lambert suggested an uncooperative Mother Nature may be indication of an emerging trend.

“There is no doubt that climate change is going to make traditional winter recreation in the Haliburton Highlands more challenging,” he said. “Overall temperatures are rising, and weather events are getting more severe.

“All of this requires infrastructure investment.”

The association will need to undertake off-season trail work to improve drainage. Terrain will also need to be smoothed, almost as the trails are groomed during the ski season.

And, he said, such expensive work will require money.

“As an organization, we need to acknowledge these conditions and begin planning for their effects,” Lambert said.