10.3 miles RT
Elevation gain: 800 feet (with ups and downs)
This is a sweet ski that consists of a loop added onto the Meadow Creek trip (ASS Trip #1). There are plenty of rewards: Long flat stretches, moderate hill climbs, a few zippy downhills, and two crossings of Meadow Creek. You might be tempted to do the loop twice.
From the Sno-park, take a left onto Meadow Creek road (what the Forest Service calls Route 3). At 2.4 miles you reach an intersection and have to decide which way to take the loop. To the left is Route 4 – up to Pole Ridge (trip #10), and to the right is the way to Brush Creek (trip #8) and the Meadow Creek Full Tour (trip #11).
I like going counter-clockwise. To do that, stay right at the intersection, following Route 3A and dropping to cross Meadow Creek for the first time. The view of the gurgling creek is pretty cool, but the next time you cross the creek is even better. Continuing on, you come to another intersection at 3.0 miles from the car. Stay left onto Route 3E. (A right turn takes you up to Brush Creek, trip #8). Grind your way uphill for another 1.8 miles to where the way flattens out and you reach yet another intersection. Turn left here to cross Meadow Creek a second time on Wounded Knee Bridge.
I suspect the bridge's name reflects a mundane injury more than a political statement. Regardless, it is a beautiful spot to lean on your poles and catch your breath. Gaze upstream at the bushes covered in frost, or downstream at the tangle of rocks and fallen trees. In early morning it evokes the silence of a Japanese garden.
Eventually you have to shake off the reverie and pick up those skis again. The good news is that the trail keeps getting better. Shortly after crossing Wounded Knee Bridge, turn left onto Valeria's Way Too – my name for what the Forest Service calls Route 4A. Glide through an aspen grove and continue up and down a few hills until, 7.4 miles from the car, you pop out onto Route 4. Turn left and zip down a steep hill for half a mile to complete the loop part of the trip. Then turn right onto Route 3 to retrace your outbound tracks and return to the Sno-Park.