Razor Hone / Cougar Loop

The ‘main drag’ starting at the Salmon Ridge SnoPark parking lot.

[THIS PAGE IS STILL BEING WRITTEN – Feb 11, 2021 – but a little bit better…]

The Razor Hone trail starts in the back left corner of the parking lot and follows a Forest Service road to the end, 2.5 miles up the North Fork of the Nooksack. It is usually groomed with a wide skating lane and one set of parallel classical tracks up the side. As the ‘main drag’ it sees a number of other users, but they try to stay to the side and not damage the ski tracks. Skiing out to the end will entail several moderate uphill grades and a couple of scenic creek crossings (with wide bridges). Your return trip will be back down these same hills.

Adding the Cougar Loop will make it into a loop trip (at least at the end) and will add some exciting hills in the middle of it. Both legs of the Cougar Loop are usually groomed to the two high points, but there is a 0.6 mile segment where the trail drops down to a very scenic ‘mini-canyon’ creek crossing with a foot bridge. Purists keep their skis on and ski down the hill to the bridge – careful people take their skis off and walk. Take your pick. But it’s worth the trip regardless.

Someone once described the Cougar Loop to me as a capital letter M. As you are standing on the Razor Hone (green trail) looking uphill, the Cougar Loop has four legs. Starting on the left, the first leg is a long, steep uphill (usually groomed) up to the high point. Then there is a shorter downhill section (ungroomed) down to the bridge over the creek. Then back uphill (ungroomed) to the high point on the other side of the creek. Finally, a long, not-quite-so-steep downhill back to the Razor Hone trail.

Recommendations: The first time you ski it, ski up the ‘Near’ Cougar, remembering that you will ski back down it. Ski as far as you want, maybe as far as the bridge. then turn around and go back the way that you came.

If that works for you, the second time you ski it, go up the ‘Far’ Cougar, down to cross the bridge, and back to the parking lot by the ‘Near’ Cougar. (Clockwise)

I once skied it counterclockwise, but going down the ‘Far’ Cougar was terrifying…

SnoPark grooming ends with the end of March, but snow often remains into April for some rather dirty, icy skate-skiing (use old skis). (And then up to Heather Meadows for May and June)

The parking area is a Washington Ski Sno-Park and a permit is required to park.

I