3…2…1…TAKEOFF! That’s what the first few pushes felt like at the new rollerski loop at the Telemark trailhead. The feeling of fresh blacktop underneath your feet and not a bump or crack throwing you off course. Once you started to glide, it felt almost frictionless, like an ice skate touching a freshly-cured rink or the first tracks on a freshly-groomed trail.
The trail consists of three different loops, each of which come in three different difficulty levels. So before going and jumping directly onto the trails, I’d heed a warning; if you feel at all timid or nervous on rollerskis, take it slow, wear a helmet, have a stopping device (brake or speed reducer), and don’t be afraid to walk down the hills to scope them out first.
The “green” loop is the easiest of the trails; as you head out onto the course, it starts with a big sweeping right-hand corner. This corner will set you up for the rest of the ski; if this seems too challenging, stay on the easier loop and practice. Progress once you feel comfortable and confident enough on your skis. As you continue around the big sweeping turn, you will head straight and climb up a gradual incline for about a mile. Once you reach the top of the trail, it slowly turns back into the start area with a gradual descent back into the stadium. This loop has a physically demanding and long climb with an easy descent which makes this a great beginner’s loop. It will seem tricky and technical to novice roller skiers, which is okay, and it will help build the confidence needed for the other loops.
The “blue” loop is the intermediate loop; this will take you on a trip around the old Mt. Telemark trails. The blue course will consist of more prolonged and significant uphills and technical and faster downhills. It’s also an out-and-back style loop, with one half-mile section of two-way traffic. It gave me some nostalgia skiing on this side and having some flashbacks to the JOQ races that used to run out of this area. Incorporating parts of the sledding/downhill runs was a great way to increase the difficulty level for climbing and descending alike, and it was a degree harder than the green loop. However, I preferred the more significant climbs and believe this will be a great training loop for developing skiers.
The “black” loop is the expert loop and will challenge you immediately. It will start with a climb up Mt. Bauer and then scream down into the plunge. The climb is a steep and choppy climb to start, flattens out, and is gradual towards the end. It will then lead into a rolling, slow-speed descent before taking a right-hand corner to the top of the plunge downhill. This was by far my favorite of the loops and one of the more entertaining rollerski loops I have been on. It was hard physically but also technically challenging in the downhills. Once you have mastered the green and blue loops, attempt the expert-only loop. If you decide to give it a go, take it easy and scout it out first before pushing over the top of it.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the rollerski loop and wished this resource was here far sooner! It is every part challenging and will bring a higher level of skier into the Hayward/Cable area. The climbs are challenging, and the descents are fun which will keep even the best of athletes entertained for many years to come. It will be a strenuous trail for first-time roller skiers and beginners. Even the green loop will be complex for many people, and they want to express another word of caution to those skiers. This will be a challenging course for you until you feel stable on a pair of skis. That doesn’t mean you are not welcome, but it means taking the precautionary steps before attempting to come. Helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, breaks, and speed reducers are your best friends while beginning to rollerski!
I skied these loops on a pair of the new Fischer Speedmax rollerskis, with S/Lab Carbon Skate boots and KV+ Tornado Carbon Titan poles. I have always used my best winter equipment for rollerskiing to give me the most ski-like feel and simulate what I would experience in winter. I don’t use brakes or speed reducers, but over time have learned to slow down or stop without them if needed. Every loop can be taken at high speeds without braking or reducing speed (not that I’m encouraging it), but worth noting that it can be done. Anyone who can get out before the snow flies should make the time for it. It was a fall highlight, and I cannot wait to see what will happen with the trail in the future! – Chris Hecker