Since there are many fabulous cross-country ski trails surrounding Laramie, choosing a “top five” was difficult, especially considering the different needs of skate skiers and traditional cross-country skiers. Therefore, instead of necessarily choosing a “top five” ski trails, I have highlighted a variety of trails within three main cross-county ski areas: Happy Jack/Tie City Trailhead, Chimney Park Trailhead, and the Green Rock Trailhead in the upper Snowies. While Happy Jack/Tie City may have the most well-groomed trails (due to the non-profit that provides the grooming), skiing at Chimney Park and the upper Snowy Trails can be a different, but no less rewarding, experience. Snow conditions for all the ski trails reviewed (and more) can be found on Cycle Wyoming (

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    Summit Loop: Tie City Trailhead

    Tie City Trailhead is a major hub for both skate and classic cross-country skiers. The trailhead is located off I-80, 10 miles east of Laramie. Take exit 323 and go north on Happy Jack Road (WYO 210). About a mile after getting on Happy Jack Road, you will see a trailhead sign, signaling the impending left-hand turn off. While Tie City Trailhead provides access to nine miles of groomed trails, of these trails, the Summit Loop is the one to ski. The Summit Loop is the furthest trail from the trailhead, which makes it less busy than the other trails. It is a climb in elevation to get to the Summit Loop, but once you complete the loop (which tops out around 9,000 feet) the ski is mostly downhill back to the trailhead. Another advantage of the Summit Loop, as well as all the trails at Tie City, is that they are professionally maintained by the Medicine Bow Nordic Association, a non-profit group. This group also keeps a grooming blog, which gives skiers up-to-date information on trail conditions.

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    Meadow, Ridge, and Adler Trails

    Also off the Tie City Trailhead is the Meadow, Ridge, and Adler Trails, which make a great, easy loop for beginner skiers. While much of the surrounding ski train can be hilly, these trails are relatively flat, making for a successful start for beginners or a fast ride for advanced skiers. It is also easy to extend this loop to include Phil's Pholly or the slightly more difficult Blackjack Loop.

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    Chimney Park Trails

    Thirty-six miles southeast of Laramie lies the Chimney Park Trails. The Chimney Park Trails provide fifteen miles of trails for the classic skier. Brandon Bones, who is a National Forest Technician and ski trail groomer, says that he occasionally sees skate skiers out on the Chimney Park Trails, but that they are usually populated by classic skiers. Bones said that the trails are typically groomed once a week by the Forest Service, but this weekly grooming is dependent upon the weather. Currently, all the trails are open at Chimney Park, expect for the junction between A and G intersections, which has been closed for logging. While the Chimney Park Trails may not be groomed as frequently due to budget constraints, their remoteness provides a more outdoorsy feel for the classic skier. So if you have a bit more time one Saturday afternoon, drive out to Chimney Park and try some new trails.

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    Barber Lake Trail

    The Barber Lake Trail provides avid skiers with a bit more of an alpine experience. The trail begins at the Green Rock Pinic Area and Trailhead, off of Highway 130, high in the Snowy Range. The trailhead is easy to find in the winter because the road stops being plowed just after the trailhead. The Baber Lake Trail exits with the Libby Creek Trail, but then splits downhill after about a quarter of a mile. Due to the trail’s narrow nature, the Forest Service only grooms the trail for classic skiers. The trail is a 4.5 mile downhill experience for skiers, most of whom leave a vehicle at the bottom so they do not have to ski back up. So if you are looking for a less strenuous, but exciting day of skiing, head up to the Barber Lake Trail.

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    Libby Creek Trail

    The Libby Creek Trail also beings at the Green Rock Trailhead. Bones said that this trail was generally groomed every other week because it has less users than other ski trails. However, the trail makes up for its lack of grooming. This six mile loop covers some increbile terrain and views of the Laramie valley. The trail begins with a steep climb to a ridge before descending to Libby Creek and Libby Falls. Skiers then climb back out of the canyon and have the option to take the Barber Lake Trail down. While this is an intense ski recommended for intermediate and advanced skiers, the views and scenery make the extra sweat worth it.

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