The Erling Stordahl Ski Trails at Crystal Springs Sno-Park may be smaller than pricier private Nordic centers, such as nearby Snoqualmie Pass, but they're nicely organized, fun, and they can make for some exhilarating laps at any experience level. Plus, these short loops around the stubby knolls north of Mosquito Creek are connected to a host of other skiable trails: if you get bored, you can always head over to Cabin Creek, the Iron Horse Trail, or any of the dogsled and snowmobile trails that connect the Kachess and Keechelus Lake areas.
Erling Stordahl was a pioneering figure in providing recreation for the visually impaired, and these trails were originally built and maintained by the charity Ski for Light specifically for the benefit of blind skiers. The trails are open for all, however, and come off as curated without being overdeveloped. The system is well marked and groomed for both skate and classic skiers. At high points on the Challenge trail, you can get surprise views deep into Alpine Lakes Wilderness, although these views do include powerlines running through the middle of the ski area. You'll also see a small lodge, Trollhaugen, with beds, meals, and rental equipment, that is available for members of Sons of Norway.
The individual trails start just southeast of the parking area. They range from child-friendly cruisers to more dedicated climbs, but none are serious time commitments:
Beginners (0.3 miles), Meadow (0.3 miles), Forest (0.7 miles) and Troll Bridge Loops (0.8 miles) are all flat, easy jaunts. Beginners and Troll Bridge keep you in a creekside forest, while Forest sends you winding through dense, tall second-growth, which can be a real relief after shielding your eyes through meadows and clearcuts. There isn't much to Meadow Loop, and you can see the whole thing from the start of the course.
Roller Coaster (0.7 miles) is more difficult, incorporating a few shallow ups and downs, but the real challenge is Challenge (0.8 miles), an expert route with fairly radical terrain. It isn't necessarily clear from the trail signage itself, but the Challenge-Roller Coaster Loop is meant to be skied counterclockwise only. Wrong-way skiing won't just have you skiing against the flow of traffic: it could send you skidding off some tight, icy switchbacks.
Snowshoes aren't welcome on the groomed trails, but they're free to tromp along a connected system of ungroomed loops. One-Day Sno Park Permits are required at a minimum, and note that Seasonal Sno-Park Permits must be accompanied by a Special Groomed Trails Permit. All are available here.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.