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The Top 19 Places In Canada For Cross-country Skiing

The Top 19 Places in Canada for Cross-country Skiing

In some cities like Ottawa, Quebec City and Calgary it has been estimated that up to 5% of the population puts on a pair of Nordic skis at least once a year. That may seem like a lot but it’s nothing compared to the Norwegians. Sophie Redisch, a Norwegian blogger at Sophie’s World tells me that she doesn’t know of one person in Norway who doesn’t own a pair of skis.

She goes on to say that the ability to put on skis right outside the front door can be an important criterion when buying a house. It’s a rare Canadian that can throw on a pair of cross country skis and head out their front door.

But there are loads of places across Canada that offer cross-country skiing on as much as 200 kilometres of trail. Here are the top 19 places in Canada for Cross-country Skiing.

Cross-country skiing in the Okanagan

Silver Star and Sovereign Lake are a winning duo. Between the two resorts are 105 kilometres of interconnected trails. Renowned for their early season snow, this is the place to ski if you want to be seen with Olympic athletes. Carefully groomed trails are used by the Canadian and American National Cross Country teams as well as the Biathalon teams for early season training.

Read: How to Have a Great Time at Silver Star

Whistler 

Callaghan Country near Whistler was the site of the Nordic events in the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. It’s in a snow belt and claims to have some of the deepest snow anywhere in Canada. 

Look for over 90 kilometres of trails – with lots of easy and moderate trails making loops in the vicinity of the day lodge. Another option is to ski to Callaghan Country Lodge – and on weekends enjoy a lunch – if you can’t stay for the night. Bring your pet too. There are several kilometres of pet friendly trails but you must purchase a pet pass first.

Nordic skiing at Callaghan Country near Whistler

Nordic skiing at Callaghan Country near Whistler

Skiing at 100 Mile House in British Columbia

The 100 – 108 Mile Ski Trail Network located near the town of 100 Mile House in BC’s Chilcotin region features 100 kilometres of groomed trails for both classic and skate skiing.

Nearby is another 50 kilometres of trails. Pat Corbett, owner of Hills Health Ranch, one of the two resorts within the ski network, tells me that he purposefully built here because of the great landscape and reliable snow. Trails are equally divided between easy, moderate and difficult. He says you can expect a lot of variety in your ski experience – with a rolling landscape of forests, lakes and grasslands.

Vancouver Island for Nordic skiing

Mount Washington on Vancouver Island offers 55 kilometres of machine-groomed Nordic ski trails. Sitting adjacent to Strathcona Provincial Park, the trails offer mountain and parkland views. In really good snow years, snowfall amounts reach epic proportions. The resort offers night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Invermere area of BC 

The Whiteway is a 6 metre wide path of ice around the circumference of  Lake Windermere. It started off several years ago as a 15 kilometre loop but has grown to include the whole lake and is now officially 29.8 kilometre (18.5 mi) long and a Guinness World Record holder. 

Snow cleared from the ice is piled up on one side to allow for cross-country skiing. So not only can you skate but you can ski for 29.8 kilometres.

Cross-country skiing and skating on the Whiteway in BC

Cross-country skiing and skating on the Whiteway

Kananaskis Cross-country skiing

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Kananaskis Country is home to 90 kilometres of trails with the majority falling in the easy and moderately difficult category. It’s a popular area for people from Calgary because it’s relatively close – especially the north set of trails.

Open from November until April, you’ll find loads of snow and plenty of spectacular mountain views. It’s free but you must bring your own equipment.

"Cross-country skiing at Peter Lougheed Park"

Cross-country skiing in Peter Lougheed Park

Canmore skiing

The Canmore Nordic Center is another one of Canada’s Olympic legacies – developed for the 1988 Winter Olympics. Located just minutes from downtown Canmore and less than 15 minutes from Banff National Park, it’s the place to go if you want a great workout. 

The 60 kilometres of terrain, geared for advanced and intermediate level skiers, is groomed for both classic and skate skiing. Night skiing is also possible on a 6.5 kilometre trail. Don’t be surprised if that person smoking you on the hill is a septuagenarian.

Skiing at the Canmore Nordic Center

Skiing at the Canmore Nordic Center

Little Red River Park, Saskatchewan

Prince Albert Ski Club has maintained the cross-country ski trails for over 30 years in Prince Albert’s Little Red River Park and Nesbit Forest.

When I was in the area one summer, a number of locals spoke of their love of the skiing here and the variety in the trails. According to their website, the club maintains one of the best and most extensive urban single – track ski trail networks in North America. Prince Albert is located a few hours north of Saskatoon.

Visit Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan for skiing

Prince Albert National Park, north of the town of Prince Albert in northern Saskatchewan offers approximately 150 kilometres of trails with plenty that are graded easy to moderate. Most are found near the town of Waskesiu Lake. Six warming huts are available but because the trails are so remote it pays to carry the 10 essentials and lots of extra food and hot drinks.Buy a park pass to access the trails.

The closest cross-country skiing to Saskatoon

Eb’s Trails, located an hour from Saskatoon in Nesbit Provincial Forest, offers 55 kilometres of groomed, classic ski trails. Cliff Speer of Canoe Ski tells me the trails traverse rolling forested terrain ranging from deep dark spruce woods to open ridges of jack pine and aspen bluffs and says there is plenty of inspiring scenery to soothe the urban weary soul. There’s a cross-section of trails to cater to all abilities.

A top place in Manitoba

Whiteshell Provincial Park delivers some of the best cross country skiing in Manitoba. Seventy kilometers of groomed trails are offered throughout the park in eight different locations. The Elf Hole – Goose Sanctuary and Pine Point Rapids Trail are two of the most scenic trails.

Bring your own equipment or rent from MEC in Winnipeg, 2 hours away to the west. Go fully prepared for any emergency as you may be the only ones on the trail.

Read: Cross-country Skiing in Whiteshell Provincial Park

"Skiing to Pine Point Rapids in Whiteshell Provincial Park"

Skiing to Pine Point Rapids in Whiteshell Provincial Park

Top places in Ontario for cross-country skiing

Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario is lucky to have three trail networks. Four loops ranging up to 13 kilometres in length make up the Fen Lake section. The Leaf Lake Trail system offers trails ranging from in length from one to 30 kilometres through some of the prettiest parts of the park. For the full backcountry experience check out the Minnesing Wilderness Ski Trail.

Amazing snow and skiing in Algonquin Provincial Park

Amazing snow and skiing in Algonquin Provincial Park

Stokely Creek Lodge

Head to Stokely Creek Lodge, near Sault Ste. Marie provides if you’re after superb cross-country skiing on a mix of groomed and back-country trails. Snow is consistently excellent because of the lake effect, the terrain is varied and you can expect to ski more vertical here than at any downhill ski resort in Ontario. (For some that may not be such a great thing.)

Enjoy stunning views of Lake Superior from some of the 135 kilometres of trails. Keep your eyes open for wildlife. While you can book a room at the lodge, you can also visit as a day skier.

Read: Stokely Creek Lodge: A Winter Mecca for Cross-country Skiing

The Top 19 Places in Canada for Cross-country Skiing

Awesome skiing at Stokely Creek Lodge

Ski in the Kawarthas

I’d recommend skiing in the Kawarthas. Located just 35 minutes north of Peterborough, trails run through beautiful Canadian Shield country. Read about my experience here.

The Top 19 Places in Canada for Cross-country Skiing

Enjoy the Canadian Shield as you cross-country ski in the Kawarthas

Mont Ste Anne in Quebec

The Mont Saint Anne cross-country center is the largest in Canada. The area boasts 208 kilometres of classic trails, 125 kilometres of which can be skate skied.

The area receives 400 centimetres of snow a year and enjoys a long season lasting from late November through until early April. It’s located just seven kilometres from the downhill area so you can expect the same wonderful Laurentian forest scenery – and plenty of ups and downs. Keep your eyes open for moose too. Tracks are everywhere.

Cross-country skiing at Mont Ste-Anne

Cross-country skiing at Mont Ste-Anne

Gatineau Park is a prime area for skiing

Gatineau Park, just outside of Ottawa, presents an outstanding array of Nordic trails – 185 kilometres in total of which 100 kilometres are groomed. There are 10 warming huts, some of which are absolutely beautiful, and a destination in themselves. The ski season is long and the apres-skiing in nearby Wakefield and Chelsea is excellent.

Skiing up to one of the beautiful warming huts in Gatineau Park

Skiing up to one of the beautiful warming huts in Gatineau Park

Nordic skiing in the Laurentians

The Laurentians, an area located north of Montreal, are famous for their network of cross- country ski trails. Choose from over 1,000 kilometres of trails in 30 locations.

A few of the more popular trails include the ones at Mont Tremblant, Parc d’Oka, the trails around Val-David and P’tit Train du Nord. There are options to put a multi-day trip together too. These trails offer something for all abilities. It’s also possible to back-country ski into huts for the night in Mont-Tremblant National Park.

Nordic skiing at Mont Tremblant is a fantastic experience

Nordic skiing at Mont Tremblant is a fantastic experience

Check out Fundy National Park in New Brunswick

Fundy National Park, located in the southeast of the province, offers 40 kilometres of trails, across a range of difficulty, but in two separate areas – Chignecto South and North. Look for incredible scenery on these trails through the hilly Acadian highlands.

Corner Brook, Newfoundland

The Blow Me Down Ski Club , started in 1973 near Corner Brook, Newfoundland deserves a mention. The club looks after 42 kilometres of trails, crossing through some of Newfoundland’s most beautiful country. Trails for all levels are kept groomed and track set. Rentals are available onsite and day passes are approximately $17.70 for adults.

For the adventurous back-country skier there is superlative skiing to be found in Gros Morne National Park as well.

Skiing in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

Even though the nights are long, and the winters are cold, it doesn’t mean that people in the Yukon don’t get out cross-country skiing a lot.

The Whitehorse Nordic Centre is home to 85 kilometres of groomed trails and 20 kilometres of back-country trails. There are lit trails – with two loops that can be combined to offer 10 kilometres if they are skied in both directions. The trail lights are turned off when it’s -30°C and colder. What a place to ski and experience the Northern Lights!

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

19 great places to go cross-country skiing in Canada

 

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 21 Comments
  1. Vancouver Island gets snow????!!!! Well I’ll be darned…all these years…and I never knew that! Hey I’m all for cross country skiing as long as their is snowmobile or dog team pulling me, Leigh! (I think you’ve learned my humor by now…or I hope lol) 🙂

  2. As always love your photos. I’ve not been to any of these places. I’d love to try cross country skiing, but I guess you have to be really fit, or it makes you really fit if it doesn’t kill you first! Alberta looks gorgeous and I’d love to visit. Gosh now I have a song running round my head about it!

  3. Thanks. I printed this off and put it up on the wall at Souris Striders Ski Club near Souris, Prince Edward Island. About 30 km of trails of which 3km a flat and lit. Near the CTMA ferry port which traverses to/from Quebec’s Magdalen Islands (which also list some free, ungroomed trails on their winter tourism page).

    1. @Conor Thank you very much. We’re lucky to have so many great places to ski in Canada. I’ve done that ferry ride to the Magdalen Islands and I can only imagine some of their trails!! Kite skiing anyone?

  4. Pumped to have done 5 on your list: Peter Lougheed, Canmore Nordic Centre, Algonquin Park, Gatineau, and Mt. Saint Anne. Thanks to your prompts, I am putting the Whiteway on my must do list for this winter. Bring it on!!!

  5. It is sad that we have to expend carbon to do something that has been natural for thousands of years in Norway. We should get back to being able to strap on a pair of skis out front of our doors and slide off to our days. I use to do this as a child back in Manitoba.

  6. Stumbled upon via re- tweet and enjoyed the highlights Leigh. I realize EVERYONE has a favorite ski location but shocked by your listing Whiteway over glaring omissions of Kimberly Nordic and also the home of the Canadian Birkie at the Blackfoot-Cooking Lake. Skithere!

    1. @Jeremy You’ll be pleased to hear I’ll be checking out the Kimberley Nordic area on Friday for the first time. Tried to do the Canadian Birkie two years ago but the snow melted so haven’t gone there yet. Thank you for your suggestions.

  7. http://Www.Skiblackjack.ca
    Rossland, BC has incredible early and late season conditions, and some of the best grooming I have ever seen. And nearby Castlegar and Nelson Nordic ski clubs have gorgeous trails too. I lived in Canmore and Kananaskis, and have skied all of the Ontario spots mentioned. Whistler snow can be wet and sticky. Blackjack hands down beats them all!

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