Trail grooming is GMNC’s core mission. Seventy percent of GMNC funds, which come from membership fees, donations, business supporters, fundraising events, and grants, are used for grooming 50 kilometers (31 miles) of Nordic ski trails in the Skyway, County Line and Ward Trail Systems on the Grand Mesa. GMNC provides one of the few Nordic ski areas in the United States without obligatory trail use fees!
The grooming program began in 1990, when GMNC purchased an Alpine snowmobile with grant money from Delta County, Mesa County and the Grand Junction Lions Club, and obtained a permit to groom the Ward Trail System. Initially, grooming was done entirely by volunteers using a track setter provided by Powerhorn Ski Resort.
Eventually, with the support of Craig Maguire of the USFS, grooming expanded to the Skyway and County Line Trail Systems and new trails were developed. Additional grants were obtained from the Lions Club, the Goodwin Foundation, and Delta County to upgrade the grooming equipment. With growing memberships, GMNC was able to hire a groomer.
In 2007, GMNC was awarded a grant from the Jean Thomas Lambert Foundation to purchase a new PistenBully snowcat. This equipment allows trails to be groomed with one pass, raising the quality of skiing to a very high standard. In 2013, another Jean Thomas Lambert Foundation grant enable the Council to contract with the Grand Mesa Lodge to use their Bombardier groomer on a portion of the Skyway and County Line Trail Systems.
In 2012, flagging and clearing began on the Summit Trail, the first new trail in many years. During the summers of 2013 and 2014, crews of volunteers stacked slash, dropped more trees and improved the trail. Later, the trail was widened to twelve feet for much safer grooming and better skiing.
The grooming crew, which consists of three people (often more during early season or events), grooms four or more times per week, depending on conditions and trail usage.
Looking ahead, GMNC will continue to use the Grand Mesa Lodge machine to supplement our grooming. We will continue to widen our existing trails and add new trails when and where we can.