Crystal Springs Part 1
Updated: Feb 24
All things Crystal Springs, Part 1
Feb 18, 2023
A number of things / issues/ questions have come up concerning life at Crystal Springs recently. Here is an attempt of reminding users about the Crystal Springs use “protocol”. There will be a bit of history, the parking piece, and the trail piece. Well, as I started to write this, it was turning into an expansive document requiring more digging for fact checking and way beyond the attention span of most of us. So I am writing it a bit in reverse.
First Installment – Trails.
We will start with a trail map clip. Crystal Springs is most of the time a smoothly operating Sno-Park - COVID winter excepted. It works.
For starters where do all the snowmobilers go?
Mostly the snowmobilers head up to Stampede / Tacoma / Dandy Passes using the orange dashed line above. There used to be a zillion clear cuts up on the passes, but now trees are growing in, but they still have plenty of play areas. They also love the power line corridors and sometimes ride their loop tour connecting with Easton Reload Sno-Park via the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail. See their map here. https://parks.wa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/121/Crystal-Springs-PDF
Now the scoop on the ski trails:
Erling Stordahl Nordic Ski Trails are accessed out of Lot 1 via the skier exit – blue dash on the right or Lot 5 via the Crystal Dog Trail which is the blue dash on top left. Trails were created in the mid 1970’s when Ski For Light started using the area for skiing and evolved to snowmobile grooming starting in early 1990’s. In the early 2000’s, they petitioned the Sno-Park program for grooming with a large snowcat. Erling Stordahl was designated as a non-motorized area cross country ski area in Oct. 2001. Trollhaugen Lodge / Sons of Norway sponsor Puget Sound Ski for Light but SFL maintain the trails and use the trails as their main Snoqualmie Pass destination.
Thanks to the Mountaineers Meany Lodge folks, they were able to get USFS approval to sign use separation on the Stampede Pass Road (54 road) from parking to 420 road, back in about 2007 or so. This is their main direct ski access to their lodge. The Mountaineers, with LandTecs help, put out the signs each winter. They got a bit of an overhaul last summer to make them more manageable. Thanks Dave C.!
The non-motorized community is thankful that we have this slice of the road. Thanks to all the snowmobilers who respect this. It works.
Lot 5 exit is the Crystal Dog Trail – (upper left blue dashed line from the 1st map) it's 1 mile up to the Lost Lake Road (that goes from left to right in 2nd photo) and then pop on up to the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail. Thanks to the Northwest Sled Dog Association (and in particular, the tenacity of Michael Johnston) we have excellent skijor and dog mushing options! To give you an idea of how much work goes into getting a trail approved and groomed, this endeavor was started in late 90’s and in earnest in early 2000’s. In 2003 the Crystal Dog Trail (the one-mile section leaving the parking lot) received permission to groom. This was the beginning. The 2nd photo below is taken from the P2C looking down at the Crystal Dog Trail (yellow sign shown below) and Lost Lake Road snowmobile grooming is going left to right.
After plenty of exhausting ups and downs, in 2012 permission was granted to groom the entire system on a year-to-year basis. Now we are under a more long-term agreement with the land managers to be able to groom and minimally maintain the trails on a regular basis.
Where the heck is the sled dog trail system?
· It is a maze of trails mostly under all the power lines with connector trails through the woods. Generally speaking, it is above the P2C and below and east of the Stampede Pass Road (54). A portion of the core trail system crosses The Nature Conservancy (private property) owned parcels. An agreement is in place to use / cross their property.
A useful map, although on list for updating, is found here.
Why are there no set tracks on the Crystal Dog Trail?
· They would most likely be destroyed by the dog teams.
Why are dogs allowed on the P2C west only to Lost Lake Road and no limit east?
· NWSDA worked with State Parks to allow sled teams on the trail for safety reasons. When you see the P2C with set tracks only on one side this is for sled teams to hopefully use the other side. It is sometimes hard for them to steer away from the tracks, but so far it seems to work. This is a privilege which can be taken away if there are issues. I.e. keep all dogs on some lead or leash.
· Below is the sign marking where dogs can’t go beyond. This is just west of the Lost Lake Road and just before Meadow Creek. See WAC-352-32-060.
Why is the sled dog trail system a “Voluntary” Non-Motorized area?
· The snowmobilers have traditionally used this area, but it is not a core play area for them and to be able to groom and use, we needed their cooperation. The Kittitas County motorized grooming council decided they could buy in to this and a Voluntary Non-Motorized area was created. So, yes, they can ride the trails, but we hope they prefer to be up higher. The trail grooming funds for this sled dog system are from the non-motorized program.
Why are snowmobiles allowed on the P2C east of Stampede Pass Road (54 road)?
· This is for winter homeowner access to the residences below Rollercoaster (in Erling Stordahl). It is also part of the snowmobile loop trail system. The motorized program pays for the grooming of the P2C going east to Easton Reload from the Stampede Pass Road (54 road). This loop trail designation was set in the early 2000’s. The homeowner access is legal access. It works.
Can we ski all the way to Lake Easton State Park?
· Not exactly. But it is possible to ski to Easton Reload Sno-Park if you wanted a one-way tour. The bridge connecting to Lake Easton State Park when built, didn’t have the funds to make it bigger. The barricade is substantial and meant to deter all use in the winter. Just before (west of the bridge barricade) there is a section of plowed trail for homeowner access.
Why do we have to keep our dogs on leash all the time?
· That is a requirement of State Parks managed land.
· I-90 in general is a very busy place.
· We need to keep our dogs healthy and injury free and the best way to accomplish this is to always keep them under control and close to you.
· Tangles with dog teams can result in injuries.
Crystal Springs is most of the time a smoothly operating Sno-Park - COVID winter excepted. It works.
There you have it. Trail info. Next installment - parking lot protocol.