Photo: Draper White / DHM Design
"What had begun only months before as a 'good idea' to a few individuals
had materialized as a 'good thing' for the whole community."
- First MSNC Annual Report, 1987
A Letter from the Executive Director:
Over the last four decades, our community has fallen in love with cross-country skiing at Spring Gulch. The expansive views of Sopris and the West Elks; the mix of friendly faces as they glide by; how the meandering trails give the feeling of solitude, no matter how many cars are parked in the lot; and the just-spotty-enough cell reception that allows you to fully unplug and enjoy nature, despite its location just seven miles from downtown. This deep affection has kept the trail system free and available to the public winterlong, with over half the annual expenses covered by the local skiers and businesses.
A true community achievement, equipment, materials, volunteer labor, and a whole lotta passion are contributed each year to help Spring Gulch thrive on a shoestring budget. We’ve been so fortunate to have a diverse skillset among our supporters, including heavy equipment operators, architects and engineers, artists with an eye for grooming equipment fabrication, grant writers, and more.
However, as a “community-powered” ski area, Spring Gulch has reached a critical point. We can no longer ignore the ways that climate change has and will impact the trail system, nor the ways in which use, the sport of cross-country skiing, and the interests of local skiers have changed over the last 40 years. And the response needed is beyond the scope we've tackled in decades past.
The proposed $750,000 capital improvement plan is not about “biggering” or transforming into a destination ski area. It's about giving back to a place that has given SO much to local skiers, and preparing for the next four decades of reverie at Spring Gulch.
Rachel Bachman Perkins
Capital Improvement Goals
How can we fortify our trail system to the impacts of climate change?
Northeast Trail Extension
You skied it. You loved it. From "Lariat" to "Heja!", these high-elevation, protected trail additions receive snow earlier and hold it better.
The Marion Lot
At middle elevation, this new parking lot provides direct access to more resilient trails, and extends early and late-season access.
The strategic removal of dead and drought-damaged oak and aspen will promote regeneration of vegetation that requires less water to thrive. This also reduces tree fall hazards for skiers, provides critical shade and wind-protection for trails, enhances forage value for cattle, and offers year-round benefit to the ecosystem our trails pass through.
Adjacent to the Marion Lot, the practice field offers space to gather, learn, and play, for the benefit of youth and community programs.
How can we improve the experience of skiers, staff, and community partners?
It's time to overhaul the grooming shed to enhance utility and safety! As a ski area, grooming is what we do. But the foundation supporting our operations no longer meets our needs.
With armored exterior, a solar-based power supply, and a heatable shop space, our ramshackle shed can transform into a functional, utilitarian space to support our fleet of grooming equipment and hard-working staff.
To ensure we can offer a high-quality experience in any snowpack, we'll invest in our quiver of grooming equipment. The short list of equipment on deck for replacement includes a jumbo roller & compactor, biennial snowmobile replacement.
Tracked UTV systems and other upgraded grooming tools are currently being explored to further enhance our capacity.
Photo: Draper White / DHM Design
We're almost there.
The MSNC is so grateful for its two primary partners:
Pitkin County Open Space & Trails (OST) & Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club (AVSC).
Both OST and AVSC have critical in our effort to bring these plans to life
for the benefit of the community.
Alongside, the Town of Carbondale has pledged $20,000, and our friends at Backbone have generously committed $25,000 to this campaign. The MSNC also received a $5,000 grant to support the Climate Resilience Initiative from the Environment Foundation - a collaboration between the Aspen Skiing Company Family Fund and Aspen Community Foundation.
With an outpouring of enthusiasm and support behind us,
the MSNC has just $100,000 to go.
Help us cross the finish line in 2024!
Please note – we’d deeply appreciate if your one-time capital campaign donation is made in addition to your annual membership contribution, not in its place.
We rely on membership to offset the ongoing costs to manage the ski area and keep our nonprofit humming. Capital campaign donations will be allocated specifically for improvement projects. It’s our intention that the investments in this campaign will sustain us for decades to come, such that we won’t be making an ask like this again in our lifetimes.
Donations of all sizes are welcome and appreciated.
We are so grateful of all those who support Spring Gulch!
If you'd like to donate by check, please mail to:
Mt Sopris Nordic Council
PO Box 246
Carbondale, CO 81623
Photo: Draper White / DHM Design
Photo: Sarah Kuhn
Join us in thanking these cornerstone partners. We couldn't do it without them!
North Thompson Cattlemen's Association - The Spring Gulch Trail System exists entirely on private property. The North Thompson - Four Mile Mineral and Land Corporation (aka North Thompson Cattlemen’s Association) and the Crystal River Ranch generously permit winter use of their property for our community’s skiing enjoyment.
The Conservation Easement Holders - The portion of the Spring Gulch Trail system that is owned by the North Thompson - Four Mile Mineral and Land Corporation is protected by the 4,738-acre Jerome Park Conservation Easement. The conservation easement is co-held by Pitkin County Open Space & Trails and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust. It permanently protects the agricultural, wildlife, open space, scenic, natural, ecological, aesthetic, and recreational values of most of Spring Gulch and a vast area surrounding it.
Crystal River Ranch – A corner of our trail system lies on Crystal River Ranch property. We are so grateful for this winter skiing access.
Mike Uncapher (Western Vegetation Management) - Western Vegetation Management has led the installation of the Northeast Trail Extension and Marion Lot, with all work completed at a 50% discount to the MSNC. These in-kind donations are valued at approximately $100,000!
DHM Design - DHM played a critical role with design, planning, and permitting to help MSNC execute its vision.
Crystal River Civil - The Engstrom brothers donated civil engineering support for the planning and permitting process.
Michael Hassig - Since designing and building our storage shed in 1996, A4 Architecture has supported architectural design, and has assisted with the equipment shed expansion project.
Last, but certainly not least, THANK YOU to our donors and sponsors who have provided the critical financial stability that has allowed move these projects forward. Thank you!