There’s a fabulous beginner area for cross-country skiing, skate skiing, and snowshoeing about 14 miles east of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The West Fork Nordic Ski Trail is located on the western slope, about 10 miles from the Wolf Creek Ski Area (which gets the most snow in Colorado!).

The West Fork Nordic Ski Trail is located in the US National Forest. It follows West Fork Road (FR 648) for several miles. The first 2 miles of the road are flat and easy for beginning skiers.

Cross country ski trail with mountain at west fork nordic ski trail
Scenery along West Fork Nordic Ski Trail

There are also several off-shoots of the main road that are groomed for Nordic skiing, but those are more difficult than the main West Fork Road which is a beginner trail.

West Fork Road Scenery

The winter scenery is spectacular here. The photo below is in color, even though it looks like it is in black and white. It was snowing pretty good!

Snowy cross-country skiing at west fork nordic ski trail
Cross-country skier on West Fork Road near Pagosa Springs

The road is lined with towering trees and there are cliffs on one side of the road. It’s very peaceful.

YouTube video

We’ve been when it was snowing as well as when it was a blue-bird day (sunny skies!), and both are gorgeous.

The photos we took while cross-country skiing were taken on both types of days.

Woman and dog on cross country ski trail
Sunny day for cross-country skiing on West Fork Road
Dog on snowy west fork nordic ski trail
Snowy day for cross-country skiing at West Fork Nordic Ski Trail

Beginner’s Skiing Route at the West Fork Nordic Ski Trail

For beginners, we recommend skiing on West Fork Road. It is easy to follow the road.

When the road comes to a fork, stay to the left and continue down the road.

Snowwoman on West Fork Road

You’ll see a sign for the “West Fork Campground.” Continue towards the campground.

The snowwoman above is in front of the campground sign.

Cliffs along West Fork Road in the snow at west fork nordic ski trail
Cliffs along West Fork Road
Turn in west fork road
Well-used cross-country track
Cross country skier on sunny day with dog
Meadow along beginner cross-country trail

A nice route is to stay on the main road for about 2 miles until you reach the second bridge. The river freezes in the winter and can be quite beautiful in the white snow.

The photos below show the scene from the bridge on a snowy and a sunny day in winter. Both are stunning.

Frozen San Juan river
West Fork of the San Juan River frozen in the winter
SNowy san juan river near pagosa springs colorado
San Juan River on a sunny day in the snow

Once you make it to the second bridge, turn around and go back.

The entire route is flat, so you won’t need to worry about losing control if you’re a beginner skier.

YouTube video

The map below shows the recommended beginner’s route for the West Fork Nordic Ski Trail. The route is highlighted in red.

The map is from the US Forest Service Interactive Visitor Map online. Click here to go to the live version of this map online.

map of west fork nordic ski trail
USFS Interactive Visitor Map with beginner skier route in red

More Advanced Routes

There are several additional routes in the area for those more experienced with cross-country or skate skiing:

  • The first advanced route is to take a right when the road forks soon after you start down West Fork Road. This road will go for about 1.7 miles, at which point you turn around and retrace your steps.
  • A second option is to continue on West Fork Road past the second bridge. The road is groomed for about 1 mile on an uphill route.
  • A third option is to turn left past the second bridge and take a 1.7 mile loop on a groomed trail that goes through some varied terrain.

More experienced skiers can also camp at ski resorts across the United States in their RVs.

Snowy cliffs along cross country ski route
Snowy cliffs along West Fork Road

Maintaining the Groomed Trails

The Pagosa Nordic Club grooms the West Fork Road trails for the public’s cross-country and skate skiing use.

To maintain the grooming done by the Pagosa Nordic Club, snowshoers should stick to the edge of the trails and not walk in the groomed sections.

Walkers should not use the groomed trails, including West Fork Road, as this damages the grooming done on the trails.

Dogs at West Fork Nordic Ski Trail

Dogs are welcome to come along, so long as they are on leash or under strict voice control. To avoid accidents, you should be sure your dog stays out of the way of other skiers.

Also be sure to remove all dog waste.

Dog on cross country skiing road on west fork nordic ski trail
Our dog on West Fork Road cross-country trail

Cell Service

Cell service is extremely limited here. Do not plan on having cell service.

Directions to West Fork Nordic Ski Trail

To get to West Fork Road from Pagosa Springs, head east on US 160 for about 14 miles. You will see a sign for the Bruce Spruce Lodge on the left. Take this left onto West Fork Road (FR 648). The road is plowed for about ¼ mile.

You will drive down a hill and about ¼ mile in, parking is available on the side of the road.

Google Map

The Google map below shows the exact location. You can click on the map to get directions from your location.


Park on the west side of the plowed road. Do not block driveways, the turnaround area, or the ski trail entrance. It’s best to park facing out towards US 160.

The road can sometimes be challenging, especially the hill out to 160. Be sure to have a 4-wheel drive, all wheel drive, and/or chains for your tires. People have had to be towed out of here, and that’s a costly expense.

If you have any doubt, park along US 160 and walk down. There is space for several cars to park near the sign for Bruce Spruce Lodge. But do not park along US 160 if it is actively snowing, as CDOT snow plows will likely block your vehicle with snow.