There are hundreds of miles of trails across South-Central Idaho.
Youre not going to hit them all in one winter, or maybe even during your lifetime.
But choice is good, and heres a guide to popular trails systems from McCall to Sun Valley and Stanley.
If youre new to Nordic skiing, many of these places also offer lessons and rentals, and rentals are also available at ski and sporting goods stores in the Treasure Valley and in mountain towns that provide skiing. Same goes with snowshoes.
Give these place a try this winter:
Getting there: Drive north on Idaho 55 about 102 miles to McCall. Continue about 3 miles west of McCall on Idaho 55.
What: The Nordic trails system is operated by the Payette Lake Ski Club and offers skiing in mountains, forests and meadows.
About 15 miles of trails will be groomed with about half of them dog friendly. All trails are groomed for skate and classic skiing. There are plenty of places to go snowshoeing, too.
Nordic lessons will also be available.
Trail prices: Day passes are $10 for adults and $5 for children, 17 and under. There is a $2 fee to have dogs on the trail. A snowshoe trail pass is $5 per day.
Note: There are two season pass options. The first is a Payette Lake Ski Club season pass, which is good at Bear Basin and the Little Ski Hill. Details can be found at littleskihill.org.
The other option is the McCall Area Pass (MAP), which includes four of the McCall Nordic ski areas. Five- and seven-day MAP passes are also available.
Getting there: After entering McCall on Idaho 55, turn left at the stoplight on Deinhard Lane. Continue a half-mile on Deinhard to Mission Street. Take a left (south) on Mission.
Continue south for 1.6 miles until you reach Moonridge Road. Take a right on Moonridge and continue .6 of a mile. The Activity Barn is on your left.
What: The area expects to groom about 3 miles of skating lanes on rolling terrain that range from beginner to expert. Dogs are allowed.
Trail prices: $5 daily; $20 season pass.
Information: (208) 634-2222; activitybarn.com.
JUG MOUNTAIN RANCH
Getting there: From Boise, drive about 100 miles north on Idaho 55 and turn right at the Lake Fork Merc and Sinclair gas station onto East Lake Fork Road.
Drive 1.5 miles, crossing Farm to Market Road, and then straight into the entrance to Jug Mountain Ranch.
What: The area will have about 15 miles groomed for Nordic skiing and 3 miles of snowshoe trails.
New this year, crews did significant tree cutting and brush clearing in the trail system and added a few short sections of new trail, a new trail map and new trail signs.
Events scheduled for 2013 will include: The Ranch Race weekend, Jan. 19-20 and the new Hill Climb to the Reservoir race on Feb. 10. The Hill Climb to the Reservoir race will be held in conjunction with a new event, McCall Remastered, which will consist of distance races at Ponderosa State Park on Feb. 9 and then the hill climb the next day at Jug Mountain Ranch.
The distance races at Ponderosa will be staged on the same courses that were used for the World Masters Nordic championships in 2008.
Trail prices: Day pass, $10; snowshoe pass, $6; season pass, $75.
Note: Jug Mountain Ranch is part of the McCall Area Pass Program (mccallnordic.com).
PONDEROSA STATE PARK
Getting there: Drive 102 miles north of Boise on Idaho 55 to McCall. Turn right on Railroad Avenue. Follow the signs.
What: Ponderosa State Park has 13 miles of groomed Nordic Ski trails and 3.2 miles of designated snowshoe trails in forested, mountainous terrain next to Payette Lake.
Groomed ski trails can be used by snowshoers as well. Rovers Round-About is a pet friendly trail in the park.
The state park is putting in a new ski trail to replace one that has been missing since 2009 on the east side of the park.
The new Sunrise Trail will connect with Thru the Woods, Rovers-Round-About and Fox Run to create a new route for skiers.
When completed, the trail will be a mile in length through rolling terrain that most skill levels should be able to handle.
In addition, the park has brushed out most of the other trails so trail users can get on them with less snowfall.
After enjoying the trails in the park, trekkers can stop by the Little Moon Shack adjacent to the Activity Center and warm up with hot soups, sandwiches, snacks and drinks.
The Blue Moon Yurt will be offering evening gourmet dinners this winter. For reservations, call 634-3111 or see bluemoonyurt.com.
Ponderosa State Park has five cabins nestled along the shore of Payette Lake. The cabins are fully equipped with all the comforts of home.
Guests can step outside to a covered deck with views of Payette Lake and gorgeous sunsets and also easily get on groomed trails throughout the park.
The cabins can be reserved year-round and reservations are accepted up to nine months in advance, but no less than two days before the arrival date.
Availability can be checked at parksandrecreation.idaho.gov. To make a reservation, call (888) 922-6743.
Trail prices: A Winter Access Season Pass, $35 (pass is honored at Ponderosa and Harriman state parks). A Winter Access Day Fee pass is $4 per person per day.
Park users entering with a motor vehicle must also pay a $5 Motor Vehicle Entry Fee. The fee is waived if the vehicle is displaying a valid Idaho State Park Passport or the new $10 annual vehicle pass.
Note: Ponderosa State Park also honors the McCall Access Pass (mccallnordic.com), but trail users may have to pay the parks entry fee.
Getting there: Drive about 90 miles north of Boise on Idaho 55 to Donnelly and turn west on Roseberry Road and follow the signs to Tamarack Resort.
What: Nordic skiers can glide along on skate and classic trails in a forested area that winds through meadows and aspen groves.
The resort will groom 6 to 12 miles of Nordic trails, which are also open to snowshoers. All mountain biking and hiking trails at the resort are accessible on snowshoes, and dogs are allowed on trails.
Trail prices: $10 a day for adults; $5 for children, 12 and under. Check in at the activities desk in the Sports Dome for passes.
McCall Area Pass holders will get a 50-percent discount. Rentals are available for snowshoes and skis at $15 a day. The price includes a trail pass.
Information: 325-1000; tamarackidaho.com.
LAKE CASCADE STATE PARK
Getting there: Drive north on Idaho 55 for about 70 miles to Cascade. Look for the Lake Cascade Parkway (Old State Highway) turnoff to Lake Cascade. Turn left.
What: The Crown Point Trail at Lake Cascade State Park is groomed in winter and offers 2.5 miles along the reservoir with nice views of West Mountain in the distance.
It's a classic track. The trail is also shared by snowmobilers and snowshoers.
The state park also plans to have a Park Loop Trail available. Park Loops entrance starts at the Van Wyck Campground unit and runs through Ridgeview. It is a 1.2-mile classic track and skating lane for beginners and intermediates. Dogs are allowed at Crown Point.
Trail prices: $5 park entry fee unless you have an annual state parks sticker.
Information: 382-4258; parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.
Getting there: Drive 16.5 miles up Bogus Basin Road, drive past the Simplot Lodge on your right and the tubing hill on your left.
What: Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area usually has more than 20 miles of groomed trails including 4 miles of lighted trails.
You can ski all the way to the Shafer Butte Campground for great views of the Treasure Valley.
Alpine-touring skiers trek up to the campground and then ski ungroomed trails around Mores Mountain.
There are lots of opportunities for classic, skate and backcountry skiing and also snowshoeing in the area. Dogs are not allowed.
New this season in the staging area at Frontier Point Lodge will be lighting provided by Inovus Solar of Boise. It will help skiers and snowshoers gearing up to hit the trails.
More of the lower loop will be left ungroomed for snowshoers.
Trail prices: Adult (over 12), $14 a day, $11 half day, $8 night; child (7-11), $7 a day, $5 half day, $3 night. Six and under and over 70 free. Snowshoe trail ticket, $5 full day, $3 half day and night.
Information: bogusbasin.org and look under Nordic.
IDAHO CITY PARK N' SKI
Getting there: Drive on Idaho 21 northeast of Boise about 23 miles past Idaho City. Its about 60 miles from Boise.
What: This is a premier backcountry trail system on the mountain divide between Idaho City and Lowman in the Boise National Forest.
The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation has about 55 miles of marked trails with about 28 miles of those groomed each week during the season when conditions allow. Dogs are allowed on most of the trails.
Trail prices: Annual Idaho Park N Ski permit, $25; or a three-day permit for $7.50, which is the minimum number of days you can buy.
Information: 514-2423, parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.
SUN VALLEY NORDIC
Getting there: Once in Ketchum, head to the Sun Valley Lodge. The Sun Valley Nordic Center is in the Sun Valley Club a mile east of Sun Valley Lodge.
What: The Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center is located at the 58,000-square-foot Sun Valley Club. This facility features a restaurant, lounge, bar and locker rooms, along with equipment repair, rental and storage.
In the peak of the season there are usually about 25 miles of groomed and marked trails. The terrain is gentle at the trailhead and progresses to challenging hills. Dogs are not allowed.
Trail prices: Adult day pass, $22, half day, $19; seniors (65 and over), $17 day, $13 half day; children under 12, free.
GALENA LODGE/WOOD RIVER TRAILS
Getting there: As soon as you start driving north out of Ketchum, youll start seeing ski and snowshoe trails along Idaho 75. Its the North Valley trail system.
Drive 24 miles north of Ketchum and youll come to the Galena Lodge.
The North Valley trail system covers more than 70 miles of terrain mostly in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
The main systems include the Lake Creek trails, Billys Bridge, North Fork Loop, the Harriman Trail, Prairie Creek Loop, and the Galena Lodge trails.
Snowshoe trails can be found along the Harriman Trail at North Fork Loop, Billys Bridge and at Galena Lodge.
Galena Lodge has about 30 miles of groomed trails at the northwest end of the Boulder Mountains in the shadow of mountaintops like 11,170-foot Galena Peak.
The trails cut through meadows and timbered country with views of the Boulder and Smoky mountains. Galena Lodge is a perfect place to warm up and have lunch.
Dogs are allowed on designated trails.
Trail prices: Adult day pass, $15; youth (13-17), $5; child (12 and under), free. Dogs, $5 a day. Snowshoes, $5 a day.
Information: Blaine County Recreation District: for winter trail information, go to bcrd.org; Galena Lodge: galenalodge.com; trail grooming report for trails around Sun Valley, 578-2273; Galena Lodge, 726-4010.
Getting there: If Idaho 21 is open (its sometimes closed during avalanche season), its the best way to go. You have the option of taking Idaho 21 to Lowman, or taking Idaho 55 to Banks and then the Banks to Lowman Highway.
Its about 125 miles to Stanley from the Treasure Valley. Just 7 miles before reaching Stanley, youll see the turnoff for Park Creek. If you want to go to Alturas Lake, continue into Stanley and then take Idaho 75 about 26 miles south to the trailhead.
What: The Sawtooth Ski Club in the Stanley area grooms two areas, Park Creek off Idaho 21, northwest of Stanley, and Alturas Lake off Idaho 75, south of Stanley.
Both areas offer beautiful backcountry skiing in the shadow of the Sawtooth Mountains. Trails are groomed on a regular basis. Dogs are allowed.
Trail prices: Donations are requested.
Information: Go to sawtoothskiclub.com.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors