Touring News

Cleary Summit “Zeus” tour includes walking “Zeus”

Two people, Peg and Cort, and Skye Dog joined Phil on his Cleary Summit “Zeus” tour (on March 14 back when we could gather for tours – remember that?). Phil admired Cort for his strength as a skier, breaking trail for the group. The rest in Phil’s own words: “Snowing some of the time; couldn’t see much. Cort & I tried Mongolian ski pole brakes but they weren’t slow enough on the snowmobiled trail, so we all walked part way down Zeus.”

NSCF Events, Classes Cancelled Due to COVID-19

Dear NSCF Members and Event Participants,

With the confirmation of COVID-19 in Alaska, prevention of further spread is paramount. In an effort to do everything we can to help keep our community safe and help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the NSCF board and staff have decided to cancel the Spring session of Junior Nordics, the Interior Youth Festival, the 2020 Ski for Women, the Sonot Kkaazoot, and all other club-related activities and practices through March 31.

We thank you for your continued patience as we navigate the uncharted territory of the COVID-19 outbreak. We had hoped that the spread of the virus might abate, but clearly it has not. The World Health Organization has officially characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. Gov. Dunleavy has declared a public health emergency and the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District and University of Alaska have cancelled classes next week.

Please know we did not make this decision lightly. NSCF Staff, volunteers and community sponsors, worked diligently to put together these programs. We know that many of you were looking forward to these events. But, in the end, the health of our members, patrons, staff, and volunteers, as well as our obligation to public health more generally, has to take precedence.

What you need to know:

  1. The Junior Nordics Spring Session, Interior Youth Festival and Ski for Women are cancelled and will not be rescheduled for the 2019-2020 season. The cancellation of these events comes with financial repercussions for our organization. To help us mitigate the costs, we ask those of you who are financially able to donate your registration fee to the NSCF trail fund, which, unless we hear from you, will happen automatically. If that’s not possible, we will of course refund the fee. To request a refund, please email Rebecca Heaton ( before March 25.  Given the small staff at NSCF, we ask for your patience as we address refunds and notifications. We will work as quickly as we can to address any issues that arise.
  2. The Sonot Kkaazoot is cancelled; entry fees will not be refunded, but will be used to defray the sunk costs of the race (grooming to date, bibs, awards, honoraria for the schools responsible for the aid stations, etc.). Race Director Bob Baker is working on a virtual Sonot; if Ft. Wainwright consents and the river remains safe so that Bob can continue to groom, the virtual Sonot will include the original courses. You can anticipate updates from Bob as he works out the plan.
  3. While FXC practices will not be held, coaches will provide tailored training plans for the FXC athletes for the remainder of the season and work with them remotely on the execution and modification of the plans as needed.

We greatly appreciate your understanding while we work to make these cancellations as smooth as possible for NSCF members and participants.

While we feel it necessary to cancel our events, we encourage you to get outside anyway. There is no reason why you can’t enjoy the best skiing of the year on some of the best trails in the country. So, wash your hands, then get outside and share a selfie on social media to encourage other healthy individuals to get outside and ski!

Thank you again for your support and patience.


The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks Board and Staff

Cleary Summit “Zeus” Tour to be held March 14

The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks will be offering a Cleary Summit-area ski tour this Saturday, March 14. The tour requires advanced skiing skills.

What: Cleary-to-Chatanika Lodge via Fairbanks-Circle Trail and “Zeus” tour. Advanced level skiing required. Car put-in at Old FE Lodge at Chatanika, then back to start at Fairbanks/Fish Creek Roads intersection.

The tour consists of rolling terrain out at Cleary-Summit following the unplowed (but snowmobiled) Fairbanks Creek Road leading to the old Fairbanks-Circle Trail.  We shall continue northeast on this trail out past Monkey Rock then turn north off the trail to Champagne Rock for several long, sometimes fast descents through the 2004 and 2005 burn areas. Great views of the Alaska Range, the White Mountains and Chena Dome. We stop for a snack enroute.

The final descent to the Davidson Ditch is fast and curvy, spitting one out like a thunderbolt (hence its name “Zeus”).  This section can be walked.  Finish with a pleasant forest ski past Leonard Seppala’s cabin at Chatanika.  If the group is so inclined, we can adjourn to the nearby Chatanika Lodge for sustenance.

When: Saturday, March 14

Start time and place: Meet at Skiland Road DOTPF (highway dept.) pullout just off the Steese Highway at 11 a.m.

Estimated tour time: about 3-4 hours

Canines welcome.

Leader: Phil Marshall (457-3859; or Jan Lokken Marshall (at Cleary: 389-2449)


Skiathon Celebrates Skiing and History This Weekend

Come join the Skiathon this Sunday, March 8, on the University of Alaska Fairbanks trail system!

The 20-kilometer, classic-only Skiathon is a race and a tour. Participants are timed but can go as fast or as slow as they want. There is a wood ski division. All finishers receive a Skiathon patch. Early registration is only $15, but registration forms must be turned in before noon on Saturday, March 7. People can sign up on the day of the race, but late registration fees go up to $40. Pick up and drop off registration forms at Beaver Sports. Forms can also be downloaded (see link below).

Bib pick-up is in the UAF Ski Hut on West Ridge, near the Geophysical Institute. It starts at 10am and the race/tour starts at 11am. (Please remember that March 8 is also Daylight Savings Time!)

For more information or to volunteer contact Stan Justice (479-5017; stanjustice[at] For more course maps and registration form see:

This joint event of the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks and the UAF Trails Club is a fundraiser for the UAF trail system. The original Skiathon followed the Skarland 12-mile trail and was THE big ski event of the spring from 1967 to 1977. Once subdivision roads went in, it became too difficult to shovel snow for road crossings. In 2002, Susan Todd and Stan Justice revived the event but eliminated all the road crossings by using almost all the UAF ski trails.



Report: East End of Puchtler Trail & Sutherland’s Telemark Trail Roundtrip Tour

Tour date: Sunday, February 23, 2020

Ideal weather: -2 deg F, clear and calm. Excellent snow conditions of snowmobiled base on a snow pack of about 28″ with uniform cold consistency snow.  John Keller & I skied it with Skye Dog down and back in 2.5 hrs.  Didn’t need skins to ascend, just re-waxed.  John broke one pole (aluminum) doing a granny gear pole drag, but we successfully splinted it with duct tape and a branch (see image).


Report: River Park Trails Tour at Chena Lake Recreation Area

The February 22, 2020, NSCF tour of the River Park trails at Chena Lake Recreation Area (CLRA) was fun. Ten skiers (9 participants plus the tour leader) skied the 5.7 km ski loop and then the 4 km loop.  For those doing the 2019/2020 Fairbanks Winter Trails Challenge, we were able to “bag” another trail sign that was located on the longer loop. Afterwards, a few of us also skied the Peninsula Trail loop (1.5 km) for a total of 11 km (6.8 miles). A post-ski lunch at the Pagoda never tasted so good!

Trail conditions were fabulous. It seemed as though the FNSB Parks and Recreation trail groomer(s) knew we were coming and wanted to make an impression. The trail has been groomed wider that what I remember from previous years, which will now allow for walkers, etc. as well as skiers. In the middle of the trail was a nicely placed track.

The weather was a bit chilly, around -18C (0F) with a little breeze, but after months of deep cold snaps, that seemed warm. These trails are non-motorized and follow the Chena River and sloughs and are very peaceful and pretty. The 4 km loop, which is also a nature trail, was groomed, too. During the summer there are numerous interpretative signs that aren’t covered by snow.

Another 12 miles of trails that begin off of Lake Park Road near the park entrance are groomed wide and flat and are multi-use and great for skate skiing. The second trails challenge sign at CLRA is located on the dike that leads from the dam and it is being groomed.

A winter guide which contains a map of the trails and lists other winter activities you can do at CLRA can be found at:

Fairbanks-Circle Trail Ski Tour Scheduled for February 29

The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks will be offering a Fairbanks-Circle Trail ski tour this Saturday, February 29. The tour requires at least advanced beginner skills.

What: The Fairbanks-Circle Trail ski tour offers rolling terrain on the old Fairbanks-Circle Trail and unplowed Fairbanks Creek Road. Great views of Alaska Range and the White Mountains. We stop for a snack enroute. No temperature cut-off.  Usually warmer up at this elevation.

When: Saturday, February 29

Start time and place: Meet at Skiland Road pullout just off the Steese Highway at 10 AM. We shall carpool to the trail start at the beginning of the Fairbanks Creek Road.

Estimated tour time: about 3-4 hours

Canines welcome.

Leader: Phil Marshall (457-3859 or at Cleary: 389-2449;



Fox Area Ski Tour Scheduled for February 23

The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks will be offering a ski tour this Sunday, February 23, in the Fox area. The tour requires intermediate to advanced level skiing.

The East End of Puchtler Trail & Sutherland’s Telemark Trail Roundtrip tour will descend from about 4-Mile Old Murphy Dome Road on snowmobiled-trail through pretty mixed woods that receive direct sunlight now.  We’ll branch off onto Sutherland’s telemark trail that has been brushed out and descend mildly wildly to El Dorado Creek and the new clearing where the old miner’s log cabin was. We’ll return via same route where softer waxes should permit climbing, though if you own skins, please bring them.

This area is under active consideration by the Borough for sale and consequent development by mining and tourism.  Awareness of its nature behooves an informed public.

When: Sunday, February 23

Start time and place: 10:45 a.m. at the Fox General Store.

Estimated tour time: about 2-3 hours

Canines welcome.

Leader: Phil Marshall (457-3859 or

This tour replaces the “Mysterious Mountain” Roundtrip Tour that was originally scheduled for this date. Sorry for any inconvenience. 



Chena Lake Recreation Area Ski Tour Scheduled for February 22

Twice frostbitten, once more try! A tour of the classical ski trails nestled along the Chena River and flood control collection channel in the Chena Lake Recreation Area is scheduled for Saturday, February 22. This tour was scheduled twice earlier and had to be cancelled because of frigid temperatures. But the forecast calls for much warmer temperatures. Above zero even!

Participants will ski the 5.7- and 4-kilometer loops. The trail system is flat with no hills; everyone will just have to watch out for moose. While on the trails, for those of you doing the Fairbanks Winter Trails Challenge, we’ll also be looking for “The Sign”!

When: Saturday, February 22

Start time and place: 11 AM at the River Park Ski Trails

Estimated tour time: about 2-3 hours

Directions: In North Pole, follow Laurance Road to enter CLRA.  Near the end of the road, turn left onto the River Park Road.  Follow the signs for trailhead parking on the left.  Note: it is the first pullout, no longer at the picnic pavilion.

Behaved dogs welcome.

Tour will be cancelled if temperature is -20F or lower at the airport (National Weather Service website: Note: CLRA tends to be colder than FAI.

Leader: Lisa Stuby (371-6460,


Report: Skarland Ski Trail 12-Mile Tour

The Skarland ski tour was a great success! We had a total of 11 participants at the start of the tour and finished with ten.  Some folks returned from last year while one individual was revisiting the trails he skied as a child. Our youngest participant was 14. Conditions were about perfect with a temperature around 20 degrees and snow falling on the freshly tracked trails.

A big thanks to Stan Justice for grooming the circuit a couple of days earlier and providing historical commentary along the way.

Total mileage was about 11 miles with moderate elevation gains and no major spills on the downhills. The tour was completed in a total of about 3-and-a-half hours once we hit the trail and all participants, while tired, reported it was well worth the effort.

Looking forward to doing it again next year!

Leader: Joel Young