Chief Joseph Pass, Multi Use Trails

This year we are make some changes to our grooming program for the multi use trails at Chief Joseph Pass. The current plan is to groom these trails about once a month. We will likely also not be grooming all of the connector trails between Gibbons Pass Road and Overlook each time. The Ski Trails will still be groomed weekly. The changes are being made for several reasons:

Grooming the Multi Use Trails has gotten more difficult. A large fire break was cut along side Gibbons Pass Road as part of fighting the 2020 Trail Creek Fire. Without the protection from the wind that the forest granted there are many large snow drifts. Grooming through these drifts takes significant time, and the drifts re-form quickly.

Decreased Grant Funding. The amount of grant funding we receive from Montana FWP to help pay for grooming has decreased about 30% in the past few years.

Increase diesel costs. We partner with Lost Trail ski area to groom these trails, they do the grooming with a snowcat that runs on diesel, and diesel prices have gone up significantly the past few years. Diesel is the single biggest cost for this grooming.

Usage. We could have dealt with the increased costs by reducing grooming frequency on the ski trails and multi use trails. Grooming each trail system costs about the same amount, but the ski trails serve significantly more users who are dependent on well groomed trails.

If you are interested in seeing the multi use trails groomed more often and in helping pay for it, let’s talk. Grooming these trails costs about $600 each time, and we could easily add grooming on specific days, or increase the overall frequency if someone wants to help pay for it.