About KNS - Past and Present
The Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers group formed in the winter of 2002. In response to an upsurge of local interest in cross country skiing, several skiers petitioned the Kalamazoo County Parks Department to ask if county park land could be groomed for both inline (traditional) and skate skiing.
The response from the Parks Department was positive, and the group set about borrowing equipment with which to groom River Oaks Park, located several miles west of Galesburg. Grooming for skate and inline skiing commenced shortly after the first snowfall of that year, and continued until the snow melted in the spring.
Although the initial grooming effort at River Oaks Park proved moderately
successful, the group decided to try an approach that would allow the general
public greater access to the snow grooming. Representatives of KNS asked
permission of the Kalamazoo City Parks and Recreation Department, owner
of the Milham Park Golf course, at the corner of Milham Road and Lover's
Lane, in Portage, to groom that facility for cross country skiing. The head
of the Parks department said they were willing to give the project a trial
In the winter of 2003, again using a borrowed snowmobile and groomer, and with assistance from the Kalamazoo Municipal Golf Association, trails were groomed at Milham Park Golf course.
The effort was successful. Scores of cross county skiers took advantage of the approximately two mile perimeter loop around the golf course. Local ski racers were able to put in many hours of training on the course, and recreational skiers and families enjoyed easy access to the trail and smoothly groomed, gently rolling course.
Expecting to duplicate the grooming in 2004, the group was disappointed to learn that a legal liability issue had cropped up at the last moment. As a consequence, the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers group was not able to groom cross country ski trails at Milham Park Golf course that winter.
In the winter of 2005, Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers learned that the generous party who had been loaning the snowmobile and groomer necessary for the implementation of a cross country ski venue was moving up north, and taking his equipment with him.
Determined to take matters into their own hands, the KNS group decided in late 2005 to purchase a snowmobile and groomer. Charter members pooled money and started the hunt for the appropriate grooming equipment. They located and purchased a used long-track Ski Doo snowmobile, and a trailer with which to haul it around. The group already owned a home made snow roller, and in the fall of 2006 purchased a professional snow groomer that will enable compaction and grooming of snow for skate skiing, and also to set track for inline, or "classic," cross country skiing.
With permission to groom Milham Park Golf Course in hand and the grooming equipment at the ready, all KNS needs in winters to come is six inches of snow on the ground to start producing an easily-accessed groomed ski venue, open to the public.