In the heart of downtown Steamboat Springs, Colo. sits historic Howelsen Hill that serves as vital training ground for past, present, and future Olympians. Howelsen boasts over 21 kilometers of Nordic trails, a Terrain Park, Tubing Hill, and intimidating steeps down the face of the ski area.

Howelsen Hill offers a plethora of pass options from All Access, Terrain Park Pass, Nordic Trail Pass, College Pass, and Family Pass. All Access includes all alpine trails, Nordic trails, and the Terrain Park. The Terrain Park and Nordic Trail passes have no lift access. Full-time college students can receive a discounted pass with proof of enrollment. The Family Pass includes one adult and spouse plus all children under 18 living at home.

Spend an afternoon skiing Howelsen's 15 trails serviced by four lifts. Learn to ski or ride at Pony Land, then move up to Mile Run or Long John. Mile Run is just that, and sends you on a cruising adventure around the backside of the mountain. Challenge yourself to laps of steeps on East Side, Rolling Pitch, and Timbers.

Sue Rife of Steamboat Springs explains how she can spend all afternoon at Howelsen Hill getting fresh tracks run after run on a big snow day. "Everyone goes to the mountain (Steamboat Ski Resort), and I head over to Howelsen," Rife says. "Between alpine skiing and the cross-country trails, there's more skiing than my old knees can handle."

The Nordic trails were built and are maintained and groomed through joint efforts between the City of Steamboat Springs and the Steamboat Springs Nordic Council. The trail system is being improved and expanded on an annual basis. The system is considered a city park, and is open to multiple public user groups. These same trails have been part of the Nordic Combined World Cup Cross-Country course as well as several other high level regional and national Nordic skiing competitions the past several years.

The Terrain Park features a small halfpipe, a series of rails, and a progression of tabletop jumps. Fund-raising is taking place to improve lighting for the Terrain Park as well as to add a PA system for music and announcing capabilities.

Howelsen's Tubing Hill is not to be missed. Ride the beginner Pony Tow surface lift to the top, and then fly down the lanes on tubes provided by the hill. Check the Web link for hours and space availability.

More Information: Howelsen Hill Nordic trails; Howelsen Tubing Hill.