rail trail

A lone skier glides along the Ferry County Rail Trail next to the Kettle River.

CURLEW – The 10th annual Ski Day on the Ferry County Rail Trail is being postponed in hopes Mother Nature will dump some snow.

Ferry County Rail Trail Partners, which hosts the event, is moving the event from Jan. 11 to Feb. 1.

Weather permitting, Ski Day runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Curlew Trailhead and includes free instruction and use of cross country ski gear and locally produced Hok skishoes.

A bonfire is planned, plus some giveaways and snacks provided by REI of Spokane.

The first Ski Day event was at the same location in 2009, shortly after the 28-mile rail corridor was preserved via rail banking. The corridor was transformed from a railroad into a long, skinny public park also known as a rail trail.

“We had no funding for improvements but we had a trail and eight inches of snow so we groomed it for cross-country skiing along the Kettle River up to the tunnel,” said Bobby Whittaker, president of the group that has worked with state and county officials for more than a decade to convert the raw rail corridor into a world-class rail trail.

“It really is amazing — miles and miles of waterfront that is yours as much as it is mine — no parking pass or ticket required.”

Over the years, the group has secured approximately $1 million in state and federal grants and matching funds to develop the trail.

“We saw an opportunity to do something positive here, connect our schools and towns and have a safe place to recreate as well as draw much-needed tourism to the area,” said Keith Bell, vice president and chief grant writer for the project. “Thanks to the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office grant program and the community coming together to make this happen, it became one of those rare win-win scenarios.”

According to Bell, the trail is on track to complete its Phase 4 RCO grant construction this summer and with a little luck work on the final Phase 5 construction will start next fall before the snow flies.

More details about Ski Day are available at ferrycountyrailtrail.com.

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