January 27, 2009 in Awayfinder destinations

The Leavenworth Winter Sports Club

Cassandra Jones Awayfinder Correspondent
 
The Spokesman-Review photo


(Full-size photo)

The Leavenworth Winter Sports Club has been offering a unique perspective of the great outdoors to novice and expert skiers for the last 80 years – and that view is fun, low-key, incredibly reasonable, and let’s face it, beautifully located at the base of the Cascade Mountains.

The weather and the Bavarian culture lure travelers to this famous spot during the winter months in large part for the downtown Christmas Lighting Ceremony, but ski season is an added benefit to a trip to the center of the state.

“We call it our hidden treasure because when you’re in Leavenworth, you don’t realize a ski hill is a mile away,” says Sherry Schweizer, Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce’s media relations director.

The LWSC began in 1928 as a jumping hill and eventually became a host site for major ski jumping events in the 1950s and 1960s to include National Championships and Pre-Olympic Tryouts. Today, it is a nonprofit club with a mission of promoting healthy, active lifestyles through winter sports, especially skiing.

Whether by snowshoe, cross-country ski, alpine ski, snowboard, or even on a tube, the club is a perfect place to enjoy every kind of winter delight.

“It’s just a friendly, family-oriented hill, dedicated to get people up and out,” said General Manager Bob Black.

If some of today’s exotic winter sports are unfamiliar territory, the club is a wonderful way to get your feet booted and in skis, while not having to pay the sometimes prohibitive cost of traveling to a larger ski resort.

For $10 a day, about the same price as a movie ticket, kids and adults can give alpine skiing, snowboarding, or ski jumping a try.

The ski hill’s rope tow pulls skiers and boarders up to two groomed runs that aren’t very long or fast (a plus for the beginner), reaching an elevation of only 400 feet. It is open four days a week, and three of those include night skiing. Seniors (65 and up) and children (4 or younger) ski free.

If skiing or boarding doesn’t suit you, or you want more variety, maybe the LT Michael Adams Tubing Park will suit you.

Named in honor of an area soldier who died in Iraq in 2004, this tubing hill costs $10 for 90 minutes of play and includes an inflatable tube that speeds you through the snow.

Perhaps the club’s greatest assets are the world-class Nordic trails, which also provide great snowshoe adventures.

“It’s probably the most popular thing we offer the community outside of our own,” said Black. “[These] 26 kilometers rival anything else in the state.”

For $12 for a full day, or $10 after 1 p.m., classic or skate Nordic skiers can enjoy one of the four groomed trails. Seniors (70 and up) and children under 13 ski free.

Icicle River Trails (8 km) are probably the best trails for families and just-for-fun skiers because this system is relatively flat as it passes through breathtaking scenery along the Icicle River.

Next, you have Golf Course Trails (8 km) that takes skiers uphill to gorgeous views of the Wenatchee River and through forests of tall pines. Finally, there are Waterfront Park Trails (3 km), located one block from downtown, and the Ski Hill Trails (7 km), a system that gives more advanced skiers a run for their money, as it has very little level terrain, 5 km of which is lit for night skiers.

Not everything at the club takes place outdoors. Hot cocoa, snacks, a warm fireplace, and plenty of charm can be enjoyed at a historic 1930s ski lodge. It’s an inviting break, and the prices are like the lift tickets — easy on the pocket book.

For more information on popular events, lessons, places to rent equipment, buy season passes, or more, visit www.skileavenworth.com.

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