An Illiminating Upgrade

Eau Claire Ski Striders fund new trail lights at Tower Ridge

Olivia Kroner |

This winter, members of the Eau Claire community are seeing cross-country skiing in a whole new light – literally. Thanks to $32,000 raised in donations by the Eau Claire Ski Striders, and a matching grant from the state, the Tower Ridge Recreation Area cross country ski trails have been fitted with new LED light poles.

The new poles replace 56 existing ones, which were installed in 2000 and have since rotted. Additionally, the project added 43 more lights to cover new parts of the trails, bringing the total amount of coverage to upwards of 3 miles. The replacement poles use less than half the power of the original light fixtures and also produce more light. The LEDs are expected to last around 40 years.

“Trail lighting is an important feature for a cross-country ski trail system because we ski during the months where it gets dark before 5pm,” said Fred Boetcher, the secretary of the Eau Claire Ski Striders. Fortunately for Boetcher and all other skiers, the lights at Tower Ridge are controlled by timers and will stay on until 9pm.

In addition to the lighting project, Tower Ridge has plans for two new youth skills areas to be constructed this year, both of which will also be lit by the new lights.