Skiers banned from Spa State Park’s fairways

For the first time ever, cross-country skiers this winter won’t be able to ski on the fairways of Sa

For the first time ever, cross-country skiers this winter won’t be able to ski on the fairways of Saratoga Spa State Park’s championship golf course, state park officials said.

Cross-country skiing is still allowed in the park as long as the skiers stay on trails that have been marked with new signs and fencing.

Alane Ball Chinian, regional director for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said golf course turf experts say compacted cross-country ski trails have damaged the turf on the park’s championship course in the past.

Last spring and summer, state park officials investigated ways to improve the turf on the park’s 18-hole championship course and its 9-hole executive course.

Chinian said allowing cross-country ski trails on golf course fairways compacted the snow and eventually damaged the turf under the trails.

Park Manager Michael Greenslade said Monday that the putting greens on the golf courses have always been off-limits to cross-country skiers. He said the fairways have now been added to this list.

Maps of the park’s 3.7 miles of machine-groomed cross-country trails are available on the state parks’ Web site: Green fencing and signs direct the skier to areas where they are permitted to ski, which is generally around the edge of the golf course. “It’s not ugly. It blends in with the park,” Greenslade said about the fencing.

“We’ve just put a big investment in the golf course,” Greenslade said. He said the fairways were overseeded this year. Earlier in the year some old trees were removed to bring more sunlight onto the fairways and greens. Chinian and Greenslade said they have received few complaints, so far, about the new trail restrictions.

When people read the signs and understand the reason why the cross-country ski trails are going around, rather than across, the fairways they seem to accept the change, Greenslade said. He said the southern end of the state park, except where the golf course is located, is fully open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

“If people want to go to the southern end of the park, they can go [ski] anywhere,” Greenslade said.

He said the southern end of the park is also where many people snowshoe.

Park staff like to keep snowshoes off the groomed cross-country ski trails. There are about 6 miles of ungroomed trails in the southern end of the park and other parts of the park. There is no charge to use any of the groomed and ungroomed trails.

Chinian said the Spa State Park has also entered into a new partnership with the Saratoga Springs High School Nordic ski team.

Greenslade said between 40 and 50 high school cross-country skiers will use the groomed trails in the park as their training site.

Park maintenance crews will be grooming the cross-country trails on a regular basis. Greenslade said there must be at least 6 inches of snow on the ground before the trail-grooming equipment can be used.

Park staff also plan to compact a 6-foot to 8-foot corridor near the cross-country ski trails so the skiers can use the skating techniques.

Greenslade said rollers are used to create the ski-skating lanes, which are generally on either side of the cross-country trail itself.

Categories: Schenectady County

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