With an astonishing maze of groomed trails over all kinds of terrain—including 12 to 15 miles equipped with lights for night skiing—Kincaid Park is the region’s premier destination for cross country skiing. The system ranges from sedate, pastoral loops suitable for families on an outing to demanding expert workouts with hard climbs and screaming descents.
This venue has skiing for every level of experience—from novice to world cup contender—and lots of it.
Seek and you will find it
It features loops that have been certified as official courses for national and international events, with terrain that has challenged some of country’s top racers. But the area also has gobs of routes perfect for that leisure afternoon ski. A place for meditation and exploration. Of sweeping Knik and Turnagain arm views. Of quiet and snowy woods—or even a chance to decorate trees with holiday ornaments.
Beginners might start out in the Kincaid Stadium, located below the chalet and beside a large parking lot. This large flat zone with a footprint reminiscent of a football or soccer field is where most ski races launch and finish. A great place for to gather to watch races.
When no races are happening, the stadium often features a smooth expanse of well-groomed snow and parallel ski tracks — an ideal place to take that first-ever ski and try out new equipment. You can cruise around on the flats, or try your new skills on several rises. Climb to the brass gong on the big hill overlooking the stadium for a taste of what it’s like to take a steep plunge on skis.
The stadium serves as the whole ski area’s main hub, with trails winding off in every direction. The park’s snow-making operation centers there as well, with loops that cross behind the hills and pass through tunnels to the park’s biathalon range. Given the right conditions, the ski club can create five or six kilometers of interwoven trails topped with human-made snow, offering skiable courses when conditions remain poor elsewhere. Most of the snow-making loop is lighted.
A welcoming tour
The mostly flat Mize Loop begins down the hill north from the stadium, with its two 2.5 kilometer halves arrayed roughly in “figure 8” fashion. First half winds through mature forest, with an option to return to the stadium when it ends. The second half swings to the bluff and features both stunning overlooks of Knik Arm and some relatively steep hills that are fun for beginners. The whole route is lighted.
If you want something with more challenge
The most popular and heavily traveled route in the park may be Margeaux’s Loop—a lighted 5-kilometer-plus trip that features two big descents with run-outs that don’t require any technical moves (just relax and stay on your skis and you will slow down and be fine) and some athletic climbs. The returning trail follows the much-loved “Rollercoaster”— a rollicking descent that allows skiers to glide on and on as they approach the stadium.
Many skiers extend their trip around Margeaux’s by heading out and back on the 2.5 kilometer-plus Jodphur Loop just before they cross the bridge over Raspberry Road. Lighted—and slightly less challenging than Margeuax’s—Jodphur has its own trailhead with parking about halfway through.
Ready for thrills on skis?
Ready to test yourself on a course that wouldn’t be out of place in a World Cup race? The park features many gut-busting climbs and swift, epic descents, especially on the “dark trails” south of the Raspberry Road corridor. But the Lekish 2.9 kilometer lighted loop that begins and ends at the south side of the stadium tunnel is one of the most popular. Featuring long climbs and sweeping descents, the loop can be as tough as you want to make it. But the geometry and layout of the trail, and the configuration of its turns, are relatively open. Most of the descents have long, stable run-outs. Sharper turns can be navigated by still-learning skiers. If you can ski Margeaux’s and Jodphur with no problems, you can tackle Lekish 2.9. It’s a great loop for that first “advanced” experience for those honing their skills. Plus it offers a couple of startling vistas of Turnagain Arm.