First time on snowshoes this season…..lots of fresh powder and just about a month earlier than last season!
For the first snowshoe hike of the season, I chose the Sumpter Flea Market Grounds Trail. This will be the trail we will use for the New Year’s Eve hike. Details here. It is not a very long trail….approximately 2 miles or so. I stay fairly close to the western edge of the meadows, heading South for about 150 yards. This is a popular playground for snowmobilers..so it is always best to stay along the edge of the meadows as you head away from the Flea Market Grounds.
Every year….I end up waiting to strap on the snowshoes for so long….that I have forgotten that I haven’t been on the trails since February! So the first hike is usually a fresh reminder of what it is like to break a new trail through knee-deep, soft snow.
Snowmobile trails often come in handy as a relief from the hard work of breaking trail. Just be sure you don’t see or hear any snowmobiles in the immediate area, then if you’re lucky, the trail will be going the same way you are! You know those snowmobilers…they don’t always ride in a straight line….! :)
One of the things I like about this trail is the historic Monighan Dragline that is parked at the Cracker Creek Museum of Mining. The trail brings you right through this unique outdoor museum..and since you are already wearing snowshoes….it’s kind of fun to take a few minutes to explore before continuing on the trail! (and it also a great place to take a breather if you need one too!) Just be careful not to get too close to the equipment as there may be hazards that you cannot see under the deep snow.
If historic mining equipment interests you….be sure to plan a trip to Sumpter in the summer season so you can get a real good look at the all the rustic mining equipment! Watch for the Cracker Creek Museum website coming soon!
As you continue on the trail from the museum…you will notice the Sumpter Blue Mountain Snowmobile Club Groomer Shed. This is where the big orange monster lives! Learn more about the local snowmobile club here.
You usually can follow the Snocat Groomer trail to the highway….be very careful of traffic from both directions and…..be very careful as you cross the highway as the pavement can be tricky with snowshoes.
Once across the highway, you can pick up the snowmobile trail again as it runs parallel to the highway.
You will now find yourself on the west side of the highway, with both the Sumpter Valley Dredge, and the Sumpter Valley Railroad tracks on your left. This sign is a great check point to ensure you are still on the right trail. If you happen to be on the trail deeper in the season, you may not see anything but the speed sign!
This is an awesome view of the Sumpter Valley Dredge. Many years ago…there used to be a road at this point that served as the entrance to the State Park. These days, the trail stays on the East side of the park and the railroad tracks. At this point, you are back to sharing the trail with snowmobilers so be listening and watching for the rest of the hike! Normally, the trail will take you on up to the Sumpter Railroad Depot, but on this first hike of the season, I decided to cut across to the State Park Office and finish the hike.
The best part of any snowshoe hike in Sumpter….is the fresh hot chocolate at the end of the trail!
Don’t forget the Annual New Year’s Eve Snowshoe hike on Monday, Dec 31st! We will be meeting at the Sumpter Flea Market Grounds!
See you on the trail!