Beginning Saturday, Feb. 7, you may cross-country ski with your dog on some of the easier Forest Service trails near Lake Chelan.
The Chelan Ranger District is staging a pilot program called “Pups on the Pops” on three trails locally known as the “Pops” at Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area. From the Lower Echo parking lot, skiers with dogs may use three connected trails: Lolly Pop, Tootsy Roll and Whoop-Di-Do. Total distance is 3.7 kilometers on the trails, all rated “easy.”
“There is high demand for easy ski loop trails that are also dog-friendly because our existing dog-friendly trails are rated ‘most difficult’,” Chelan Ranger District recreation program manager Paul Willard said in a written announcement.
“It is often a balancing act to meet the desires of a variety of skiers. In order for the program to succeed, dog owners will need to be respectful of other skiers, responsible for controlling their dogs and keeping the trails clean,” Willard said. He said the Forest Service has successfully implemented dog/ski trail programs similar to this across the nation.
Forest Service personnel will monitor activity on the trails and survey trail users to determine if the program will continue next year.
“Pups on the Pops” is for skiers only. These three “Pops” trails will not be available to hikers and snowshoers as there are currently options for these uses, along with dogs, on the Shoe and Zoom trails at Echo Ridge.
Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area is located 10 miles northwest of Chelan, and is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Forest Service and the Lake Chelan Nordic Ski Club. Passes are required for both ski and snowshoe trail use at Echo Ridge. Day passes are available on-site for $10 per adult; passes are free for skiers or snowshoers age 17 or younger. Season passes are available for $70 at the Chelan Ranger District office, in the town of Chelan.
For current grooming information, check the Lake Chelan Nordic Ski club website. For additional information contact Chelan Ranger District at 509-682-4900.