MacDonald Pass home to extensive Nordic Ski trail system

Posted at 4:15 PM, Feb 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-12 18:15:14-05

HELENA – When temperatures drop to sub-zero levels for days on end, going outside doesn’t always sound appealing.  But there are some outdoor recreationists who don’t let the cold keep them cooped up.

You’ve likely driven past it before. MacDonald Pass is home to a Nordic Ski area with over 10 miles of trail.

Larry Dolan, a vounteer with the club, says that the ski trails are a longstanding tradition in the Helena area. “There are people who have come up here and learned to ski and now bring their kids here,” Dolan says.

The Last Chance Nordic Ski Club has been taking care of the trails for a generation. And it’s no small feat- a crew of eight groomers works to lay tracks for the hundreds of skiiers who visit each week.  Grooming the entire trail system takes two to three hours, depending on the weather conditions.

Montana’s long, cold winters and powdery snow makes for great cross country skiing.

Nordic Skiing is a great way to stay active in the winter, but what gets people hooked is about more than just a workout.

Emmett Purcell, another volunteer groomer, says that it’s “a fun way to enjoy winter. When we get out here in a bit- it’s just so beautiful.”

Purcell also noted that “MacDonald pass is a little gem.”

The Last Chance Nordic Ski club also grooms the Bill Roberts golf course in the winter for cross country skiing.  Information on trail conditions and how to become a member is located on their website.