The Black Mountain Nordic Club Inc. is a 501 (c) (4) formed on November 6, 2001. Our goal is to promote the sport of cross-country skiing while providing consistent trail grooming for the Sibley Lake and Cutler Hill ski trails, under a special use permit in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service. Funding is obtained from membership dues, donations. Some past funding provided by matching grants from the Recreational Trails Program.
The first marked cross-country ski trail in the Sibley Lake area went from the lake up the present Dead Horse trail to where it joins the logging road, which wasn’t there at the time. It continued up and over the ridge heading north and met the Black Mountain Road close to where it leaves US 14. This trail was marked approximately in 1978 and was packed intermittently with a Skidoo Alpine pulling a homemade tracksetter that packed a trail 3’ wide. The trail followed natural breaks in the timber and parks and was only wide enough in places to get the machine through. The trail from the lake up past the hut follows an old skid trail from the tie hack days in the early 1900’s. In the mid 1980’s, the Dead Horse Loop, Prune Creek and Blue Creek loops were marked and cleared. At the time the trails were still being packed using the same Alpine and tracksetter. There was some timber sale activity in the area around that time and we use some of those roads for the trail routes. The warming hut was constructed by the Forest Service in the mid 80’s replacing a canvas wall tent that had been used for several seasons up to that time. The outhouse at the hut was installed a couple years later.
Up until 1990, grooming was done by volunteers using their own equipment. Fuel expenses and transportation costs were also paid for by the volunteers with a small annual amount from the Forest Service coming from a donation tube at the trail head. The Skidoo Alpine that was being used up to that time went down for major repairs. The Forest Service then took over the packing of the trails for the next several seasons. All packing and grooming was very intermittent in the early years as it might be several weeks between groomings.
In 1993, private volunteers resumed the packing and grooming of the trails and continued up until the Black Mountain Nordic club was formed in 2001. In the 2002 season the club began acquiring its own equipment and operating under a volunteer agreement with the Forest Service. At that time the Sibley trails were posted “No Dogs” as per Forest regulations, dogs are not allowed on a groomed ski trail. At that time we cleared and marked the Cutler Trail system, one mile to the north of Sibley, and pack it for skiers and snowshoers to take their dogs. In 2004 that regulation was changed to a special order making it illegal to have dogs on the Sibley trails during the grooming season.
Since the club was formed, we have acquired 5 snowmobiles, 6 grooming implements, and 3 enclosed trailers, two of which were flatbed trailers which the club framed and enclosed. Two of our groomers were also fabricated by the club. We are continually trying to upgrade our equipment to facilitate grooming, both for making a better trail for the users and to make the task of grooming the trails easier for the volunteers. We are still using the two original used Skidoo Alpines we acquired when the club was formed in 2001. These machines are now 28 and 32 years old and need to be replaced.
Every year there are hundreds of volunteer hours spent on trail maintenance in the summer. This involves clearing, marking, removing rocks and stumps and laying logs on off camber hills to level the trail bed. There are many bridges on the trail system and most have also been upgraded in the last several years. With the popularity of skate skiing and snowshoe usage growing, the trails need to be wider to accommodate the different users and for safety.
We make every effort to groom the trails on a weekly basis depending on snowfall. On average we groom both trail systems 25 times a season and spend about 360 volunteer hours grooming. Our fuel costs are reimbursed by the Forest Service and they allow us the use of a vehicle to and from the trails when grooming under the Volunteer Services Agreement.
All equipment costs and maintenance cost are assumed by the club. These expenses can run into the thousands over a season and upgrading equipment is very costly as well.
If you enjoy using the Sibley/Cutler Trails please help support the trails by becoming a member of the Black Mountain Nordic Club Inc.