District grooms trails for cross-country skiers

With all the snow this winter, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County saw an uptick in cross-country skiers on trails. The district was ready. It groomed tracks in the trails for this very activity.

“Over the years we’ve learned how to enhance conditions, but the biggest challenge is reminding everyone to share the trails responsibly,” says Jay Johnson, a site manager with the district. “Some of the most frequent feedback we receive from skiers is disappointment when other visitors disrupt tracks, often because they don’t realize what they are. To help the situation, we’ve put up signs to inform all visitors about grooming activities and to reinforce winter trail etiquette whether you’re on foot or skis.”

The district allows cross-country skiing on most of its 145 miles of trails when conditions permit. Updated conditions are recorded on the Outdoor Report at 630-871-6422.

Rangers groom trails at popular forest preserves such as Blackwell in Warrenville, Danada and Herrick Lake in Wheaton, Fullersburg Woods in Oak Brook, Greene Valley and Springbrook Prairie in Naperville, Hidden Lake in Downers Grove, Mallard Lake in Hanover Park, Meacham Grove in Bloomingdale, Waterfall Glen in Darien and West DuPage Woods in West Chicago.

“Tenderize,” “roll” and “set” may sound like cooking directions, but they describe snow-grooming techniques. Tenderizing breaks up icy crusts so skis can better glide. Rolling compacts fluffy snow, creating a denser, more even surface. When setting tracks, groomers create grooved paths on the outer edges of the trails for classical cross-country skiers while smoothing the inside for skate-style skiers, hikers, snowshoers and equestrians.

Printable maps for most forest preserves are available on the district’s website, dupageforest.org. Visitors also can request trail guides featuring 24 popular maps through visitor services at 630-933-7248 or at forest@dupageforest.org.