Nestled between Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch lies a piece of paradise known as McCoy Park. Its views of the Gore Range, Castle Peak, the Flat Tops Wilderness area and the north face of the New York Mountain in the Sawatch Range are breathtaking. The area is a wondrous playground for snowshoers and Nordic skiers who experience a sense of calm with only the sounds of shushing shoes and the gliding skis. Call it a magical place, a slice of heaven.
It’s all that and more. It’s a place where you will surround yourself with beauty and solitude. A place where you can meander through pine forests and aspen groves. It’s serene bliss. An awesome escape. McCoy Park was designed in 1982 by Jean Nauman, former manager of the Nordic Center, and mountain planner Mike Larsen, who realized after scouting many areas that the best location for a snowshoe track was not on a golf course but, rather, on top of a mountain. And Beaver Creek’s McCoy Park could not be a more perfect spot!
The park is located on the top of the Strawberry Park Express Lift, where you’ll find a 32km system at the summit, 9,840 foot, with spectacular views in every direction. Tracked for both classic and diagonal skate skiing, the groomed trail system has one advanced loop, the Wildside Trail, but is basically a playground for beginners and intermediates. One ungroomed singletrack for more advanced snowshoers is called the Upper Atlas Traverse.
When your perfect day is over, skiers and snowshoers have two choices of getting back to the Beaver Creek village: download on the Strawberry Park Express Lift or take the gradual, Home Comfort Trail all the way down. One word of caution: if there’s new snow, this trail will be truly delightful. If there’s no new snow, however, this way down could be somewhat slick, and you might find yourself flying down the mountain. Lots of fun, however, it could be scary experience.
What’s more…. did you know that snowshoeing is a very effective, low impact and safe form of exercise? Essentially, if you can walk, you can snowshoe—for a well-designed snowshoe can feel like an extension of the body, rather than an extra appendage. In fact, according to Dr. Declan Connolly of the University of Vermont’s exercise physiology department says, “Snowshoeing utilizes major muscle groups which, when combined with a higher metabolic rate in cold weather and the added resistance of moving through snow, results in a high energy activity.”
And, according to Ray Browning, Ph.D., Department of Health and Exercise Science, College of Health and Human Sciences at Colorado State University, snowshoeing is the best bang-for- your-buck, fat-burning workout in winter. “It’s an exceptional way to achieve cardiovascular fitness, expend energy and reduce your chance of heart disease; plus, it’s low cost, easily mastered and fun.”
Physical therapists, too, believe that snowshoeing and Nordic skiing are considered to be two of the best aerobic activities for people of all ages. They’re low impact sports, yet provide a cardio workout which also builds strength, balance and endurance.
So, if you want to enjoy a peaceful, outdoor experience, what can be better than listening to the sounds of nature on top of a glorious mountain in the middle of the magnificent Rocky Mountains?