Traveling to many locations for cross country skiing in the US, you will find a clear separation of trails dedicated for snowshoeing vs. cross country skiing as these two things do not mix well. The tracks laid by cross country skiing are difficult to achieve and the trail breaking arduous on ungroomed trails. On groomed trails, much work also goes into creating skate tracks that are crushed by snowshoes.
In the backcountry and on State Park lands, other cross country skiers greatly appreciate that some brave soul has accomplished the trail breaking, they find a smooth and enjoyable track to get out and get some speed and float in. Those delicate tracks and very easily crushed by hikers and snowshoes. Likely the culprits are completely unaware of the need to stay to the left of ski tracks on the uphill direction and the universal need everywhere to make an effort to preserve their fellow outdoor enthusiasts tracks for it's specific use.
At Nordic centers like The Kingdom Trails, there are trails dedicated to these separate activities to be sure there is not any chance for the destruction of cross country tracks.
To bring awareness to this, it is important to kindly converse when you encounter snowshoers and hikers out there. A few simple rules need to be emphasized as they have been adapted at many Nordic centers such as Okemo Valley's Nordic Center.
Rules for multipurpose trails:
- Keep ski tracks and snowshoe tracks separate wherever possible. Snowshoes destroy ski tracks and make for hazardous conditions for skiers on the downhill slope.
- Ski in control. If you can not negotiate a downhill, side stepping is very effective.
- Announce loud and clear your approach when overtaking other skiers and snowshoers/hikers. Direct them as to which side you will be passing. i.e. Passing on your right.
- Leave no trace of pet waste. A good option if you are unable to pack out is to use a ski pole or stick to relocate it to a better off trail spot. It is rude to leave it in track.
- Should you encounter someone who does not understand the need for separate tracks, educate them on how difficult it can be for skiers in bumpy snowshoe tracks. There is usually plenty of room for both types. Kindness goes a long way in this situation. Please and thank you are very effective and more persuasive than negativity.
The best way to solve a problem is be a part of educating folks out there so we may all enjoy the great outdoors together side by side.