Best Places to Cross Country Ski in Calgary & Nearby

Skiing up to Skogan Pass with Nakiska Ski Resort in the background
Skiing up to Skogan Pass with Nakiska Ski Resort in the background

If you’re looking to get outside and make the most of winter why not hit one of these cross-country ski trails in Calgary in and nearby. Described are my favourite places to go cross country skiing near Calgary – appreciating that suggestions take you as far as Kananaskis Country.

Before you head out, always check the weather forecast – so you’re fully prepared. If snow is in the forecast, it also pays to be get an up to date highway report. And lastly, check out the trail conditions either before you go or at the Visitor Centre in Kananaskis Country. 

If you’re heading to Banff National Park, then try one of these 5 easy cross-country ski trails.

Lots of ideas on where to cross-country skiing across Canada – should you be planning a trip.

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Cross country skiing near Calgary

1. West Bragg Creek

You are spoiled for choice with well over 40 km of cross-country ski trails in the West Bragg Creek area just 45 minutes away from Calgary. When there’s fresh snow, this place is magical.

Personal favourites include the Telephone Loop if I want a long day of skiing with lots of ups and downs without running into many people; the Iron Springs/Elbow Loop for meadows, stands of aspen, and some fun hills and the Moose Loop – considered the most scenic trail with expansive views, plenty of hills, meadows and views of course of Moose Mountain.

Dogs are allowed but must remain on a leash in the parking lot. There is lots of free parking. On a sunny winter weekend get here early as the parking lot gets very busy.

5 of the Best Places to Cross-country Ski near Calgary
Tremendous variety of trails at West Bragg Creek
Love the skiing through stands of aspen
Love the skiing through stands of aspen

2. Skogan Pass from Ribbon Creek

Cross country ski to Skogan Pass from Ribbon Creek if you want a big workout and a fast, super fun descent. Its 21 km return with an elevation gain of 625 m. You will need a Kananaskis Conservation Pass to ski here. 

Expect it to take approximately three hours to climb to the pass and under 90 minutes to return. There is also the option to ski to the Hummingbird Fire Lookout – as a side-trip or on its own.

The views from the pass are excellent as are the Nakiska Ski Resort views along the way. Start at the Stoney Trail parking lot off of Mt. Allan Drive.

You can rent gear at nearby Kananaskis Outfitters. 

Skiing up to Skogan Pass with Nakiska Ski Resort in the background
Skiing up to Skogan Pass with Nakiska Ski Resort in the background
You can see Canmore from Skogan Pass
You can see Canmore from Skogan Pass

3. Bill Milne Trail cross country skiing

The flat and easy Bill Milne Trail (a bike path in summer) follows Ribbon Creek from Kananaskis Village all the way to Wedge Pond.

It’s 9.7 kilometres one way – but because it’s an out and back trail you can turn around at any point. Enjoy the mountain views no matter what direction you’re going. Again you’ll need a Kananaskis Conservation Pass.

Superb easy skiing on the Bill Milne Trail when there is fresh snow
Superb easy skiing on the Bill Milne Trail when there is fresh snow
Great cross country skiing near Calgary on the Bill Milne Trail
Great cross country skiing near Calgary on the Bill Milne Trail

4. Cross-country skiing Skogan Pass from the Dead Man’s Flat area

There is also the option to ski to Skogan Pass from near Dead Man’s Flats. Drive up the road towards the Banff Gate Mountain Resort and start there. It’s also a long return ski – about 19 km in total – and it is never track-set so you’ll have to break track. If you’re not used to doing that, I wouldn’t recommend it.

The climbing continues to Skogan Pass from Dead Man's Flats
The climbing continues to Skogan Pass from Dead Man’s Flats

5. Canmore Nordic Centre cross country skiing

For skate and classic skiers who like well-groomed trails and all the services – including a well-stocked rental shop along with an onsite restaurant, head to the Canmore Nordic Centre, just minutes from downtown Canmore.

You’ll find approximately 65 kilometres of trails, 6.5 kilometres of which are lit at night. While there are enough easy trails to keep a beginner happy, there are also loads of intermediate and difficult trails.

If you need to warm up, look for the beautiful hut that is centrally located. There is a fee to ski here – ranging from $9 for kids to $15 for adults.

Gorgeous backdrop when you ski at the Canmore Nordic Centre
Gorgeous backdrop when you ski at the Canmore Nordic Centre

6. Ribbon Creek Day Use Area

There are over 15 km of beautifully groomed cross-country ski trails out of the Ribbon Creek parking lot. If you want hills you can find them, but there are also lots of easy, gently flowing trails.

My husband and I spent many hours on the trails in March 2023 – just before a visit to the Nordic Spa. But all photos have disappeared into thin air. I do remember one heck of a good downhill after a big climb, which is to be expected when there are four viewpoints along the Ribbon Creek trails.

Cross-country skiing in Calgary

1. Shaganappi Point Golf Course for cross-country skiing in Calgary

Location: 1200 26 St SW

There are times, especially after a big dump of snow that you don’t want to drive far but you do want to get outside. The Shaganappi Golf Course in Calgary fits the bill.

The trails aren’t long – up to about 7 kilometres in length – but you can do several loops and feel like you got a great workout. Of course you can drive but you can also ride the C-train to Shaganappi. Don’t bring your dog.

2. Confederation Park Golf Course

Location: 3204 Collingwood Dr. NW, Calgary

Foothills Nordic Ski Club both operates and maintains the ski trails at the Confederation Park Golf Course. The parking lot opens in December, snow permitting and stays open until early March. The gates are open from 9 AM to 9 P Monday to Thursday and from 9 AM to 6 PM Friday to Sunday. 

Look for approximately 6 km track set and skate skiing trails. It’s a great place to go if you’re a beginner or you want todo laps.

From Monday to Thursday the driving range is lit up. There is a porta potty but no warming facilities. If you need a hot drink after, check out Weeds Cafe at 1903 20 Ave NW.

Cross-country skiing in Confederation Park
Cross-country skiing in Confederation Park

3. Bowness Park

Location: 8900 48 Ave NW

If you’re a beginner cross-country skier, Bowness Park with its 2.5 km of easy, flat trails is a good one to visit. The trails are maintained so its a good place to practice. I think the trails are best after a fresh snow – before they get icy. Warm up by the fire pits at the skating rink or at the restaurant.

4. Fish Creek Provincial Park

Location: SW Calgary with multiple entrances.

Fish Creek Park – like most places in Calgary is best after a fresh snowfall. Make your own tracks (its lovely along the Bow River) or follow the plowed trails.

Go right after a fresh snow for the best experience cross country skiing in Fish Creek Provincial Park
Go right after a fresh snow for the best experience cross country skiing in Fish Creek Provincial Park

5. South Glenmore Park

Location: 24 St SW at 90th Ave. SW

The cross-country ski trails in South Glenmore park are maintained by the City of Calgary. There’s a 2.2 km flat, easy loop with washrooms at either end.

6. Maple Ridge Golf Course

Location: 1240 Mapleglade Dr SE

The 5 km of classic cross country ski trails are maintained and track-set by the City of Calgary – usually on Tuesdays. There are four loops of varying sizes you can do. You’ll find portable washrooms in the parking lot.

7. North Glenmore Park

Location: North Genmore Park Road SW

North Glenmore Park features a 2.3 km of classic ski trails and 750 m that are used for cross country skiing and disc golf. Trails are maintained by Calgary Parks. You will find portable toilets.

Location map of places in and near Calgary for cross-country skiing


Where to rent cross-country skis in Calgary

There are numerous places that rent skis including the following:

Sports Rent – conveniently located at 4424 16th Ave. NW if you’re heading to Canmore or Kananaskis.

University of Calgary Outdoor Centre  – rent online.

Norseman Outdoors Specialist offers cross-country and skate skiing packages for all ages.

Outlaw Sports at 903 Heritage Dr. S.W. rents cross country skis and boots for all ages.

What to wear cross-country skiing

I have a tough time when it comes to dressing for cross-country skiing. It’s such an aerobic sport that I warm up quickly even though I’m often starting off in temperatures as low as -25°C. There’s no way I can wear Lycra tops and bottoms (like the skate skiers I see) when it’s like that. I prefer to start warmer and peel off layers as necessary. Here’s what I would suggest.


I like a thermal winter ski sock like these ones from MEC.

Best cross country ski pants

I discovered the most incredible pants made by Arc’teryx – the women’s Sentinel Gore-Tex Pant. They are completely waterproof with a warm flannel backing. I tried them out in Ontario under very cold conditions over an eight hour snowshoeing trip and they did the trick. I have been looking for exactly this kind of pant for literally years. They don’t bag in the crotch, like most I’ve tried. They flatter and they have two thigh zips for venting.

MEC carries a great selection of cross country ski pants for both men and women.

Tops and base layer

I like merino wool as a base layer, especially as it doesn’t smell after a hard workout. Choose a zippered top if you have a tendency to overheat. There is lots of choice here for men and women. 

On top of that my preference is a Patagonia fleece – because once I’m warm enough I can peel off my light-weight down jacket and cross-country ski or snowshoe in the two layers. 

Outer jacket

It depends on the temperature but ideally I like to take my light-weight Patagonia down jacket with a hood. It weighs next to nothing and is one of the best long term investments you’ll make as it’s perfect to take on summer backpacking trips as well.

Hats, mitts and neck warmers

I rarely need a neck warmer when I’m cross-country skiing unless it’s bitterly cold – and then I’ll wear a fleecy one for softness. For hats, pick one that covers your ears and offers lots of warmth without being scratchy. 

Wear the right clothes, carry the 10 essentials and go have fun cross-country skiing.

5 of the Best Places to Cross-country Ski near Calgary
On snowshoes but wearing the Arc’teryx pants, hat, mitts & merino wool underwear

Interested in more outdoor adventures in winter in Alberta?

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Where to go cross-country skiing near Calgary, Alberta



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