HAMILTON — Two Montana women are the cover girls on the American Trails winter magazine, which features the Chief Joseph Ski Trails off of Lost Trail Pass.

The three-page article and accompanying photographs were a group effort from the Bitterroot Cross-Country Ski Club, and former president Michael Hoyt is thrilled that their work is highlighted in the magazine.

"Our all-volunteer club members have worked very hard to make the Chief Joseph Ski Trail System one of the best cross-country skiing destinations in the Northern Rockies,” Hoyt said. “Making the cover of the American Trails Magazine confirms that we are achieving our goal."

It’s probably extra sweet for Hoyt, since he shot the cover photograph. It includes the back of his wife, Linda Hoyt, and their friend Deb Duffy of Bozeman, skiing the trails on a bluebird day last winter.

The article notes that the trail system provides free cross-country skiing for the public on groomed trails made possible through an agreement with the Lost Trail Powder Mountain Downhill Ski Area. The groomers use a PistenBully machine, purchased through a grant to the ski club from the Montana Tourism Infrastructure Improvement Program. The grooming costs are made possible through a U.S. Forest Service Grant.

"The Chief Joseph Ski Trails do not exist simply because one person had a vision,” Hoyt said. “It took the efforts of every volunteer over the last 28 years and support from nearby communities to make it happen."

The area has 13 miles of trails groomed for skate and classic skiing. Nearby are 19 miles of multi-use trails for dog sledding, skiing with dogs, snow shoeing, fat-tire biking and snowmobiling.

The group expects to install an additional outhouse in the Chief Joseph Trail parking lot in 2018, after receiving a $40,000 grant from the Forest Service.

"The fact that the Chief Joseph Ski Trails exist shows what can be accomplished when a group of people decide on a goal and then work diligently to reach that objective," Hoyt said.

The grooming report at bitterrootxcskiclub.net notes that more than 40 inches of snow fell in the past week, and they’re grooming daily to keep ahead of the storm cycles.

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