Cross-country skiing is easy to learn, inexpensive to get started, and a great way to explore a new place. That’s what makes it such a popular outdoor winter activity. With over 25 kilometres of groomed cross-country ski trails in the city and Instagram worthy trails in the Canadian Rockies, it’s easy to see why Calgary is a cross-country skiing hotspot. Get incredible downtown views from the Shaganappi Golf Course, ski the East Village Cross-country Ski Loop along the icy Bow River, or trek out to the Canmore Nordic Centre and Lake Louise trails in Banff National Park. Discover the best cross-country ski trails and learn how to go cross-country skiing in and around Calgary this winter.
Cross Country Skiing In and Around Calgary
Cross Country Skiing In and Around Calgary
Groomed Cross-country Skiing Trails in Calgary
Shaganappi Golf Course
Shaganappi Golf Course is one of the most popular cross-country ski routes in Calgary with over 7 kilometres of free public trails to explore. It’s great for beginners with 10 numbered pathways that are regularly groomed. Signup for the Shaganappi Nordic newsletter for updates on opening dates and trail conditions. Did we mention the epic city views?
Location: 1200 26 St SW
West Confederation Park
Located in the neighbourhood of Collingwood, West Confederation Park is home to 7 kilometres of free public trails, groomed and maintained by the volunteers with the Foothills Nordic Ski Club. Parking is easy to find at the park entrance and it’s a good idea to check the ski trail conditions before you go.
Location: 2836 Canmore Rd NW
East Village Nordic Loop
The new East Village Nordic Loop is a welcome addition to the Calgary cross-country skiing community. Start your journey at Fort Calgary and ski this short but fun 1 kilometre groomed trail. Warm up at the Hygge Hut or make a stop at the Simmons Building after your ski for a coffee at Phil & Sebastian, pastry at Sidewalk Citizen, or a heartwarming meal at Charbar.
Location: 750 9 Ave SE (Fort Calgary)
South Glenmore Park
Go for a longer trek at South Glenmore Park with over 15 kilometres of free track set skiing around the Glenmore Reservoir, a multipurpose recreation and natural area along the Elbow River with beautiful views in every direction. There’s even a slight elevation gain if you’re looking for more of a challenge. This loop is a favourite with hikers, runners, and snowshoers, so be aware of your fellow outdoor enthusiasts when on the trail.
Location: 24 St SW
Track set by the City of Calgary, Bowness Park is a family friendly cross-country skiing trail along the Bow River. You can even bring your dog along for the ride as long as they are on a leash. Parking is available on location, but this hotspot spot fills up fast. Cross-country ski rentals are available Bowness Park Skate Shop, operated by the University of Calgary Outdoor Centre, which is also track setting on a regular basis. Bowness Park is also a great spot for ice skating in the winter with an ice trail loop and ice bikes available for rent.
Location: 8900 48 Ave NW
Maple Ridge Golf Course
Trails are groomed each Tuesday if you are looking for the best snow conditions at Maple Ridge Golf Course. The sprawling loop covers the length of the beautiful golf course with a variety of trails and levels of difficulty for everyone in the family. Download the trail map before you go to get the best experience.
Location: 1240 Mapleglade Dr SE
Ungroomed Cross-country Skiing Areas in Calgary
Looking for more areas to explore on your cross-country skis? There are several locations in the city that are well known for cross-country skiers who don’t mind ungroomed trails. Try Edworthy Park, Fish Creek Provincial Park, North Glenmore Park, or Weaselhead Natural Environment Park after a fresh snowfall for the best conditions. You can cross-country ski, or snowshoe, in any park in the city.
Cross-country Skiing Trails in Kananaskis and Canmore
The Kananaskis Conservation Pass, available for purchase by day or year, is required to park your vehicle in the provincial park in Kananaskis Country and the Bow Valley.
West Bragg Creek Provincial Recreation Area
With over 66 kilometres of groomed trails, and 15 different loops, locals know why West Bragg Creek is a cross-country skiers’ dream. Easy trails like Mountain Road and Crystal Line loops are perfect for beginners while more advanced skiers can tackle Sundog Loop, Iron Creek, or Mountain View trails. Trails are groomed between November and late March, and you can check the grooming report before you go.
Location: W8X5+92 Bragg Creek
Canmore Nordic Centre
Home to the cross-country ski competition at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, the Canmore Nordic Centre continues to train world class athletes and welcome recreational cross-country skiers each winter. Check the winter trails map to get oriented on over 65 kilometers of groomed, machine-made, and natural trails, perfect for classic and skate techniques, or take a guided tour with a pro. Wax rooms, worktables, and ski forms are available if you need a quick tune-up, free of charge. Ski passes are required to use the trails and can be purchased in the Day Lodge from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day.
Location: 1988 Olympic Way, Canmore
Start at the Ribbon Creek Day Use Area for a trek that will take you through the Hidden Trail and Coal Mine Trail before joining up with the Ribbing Creek Winter Trail. This fun out-and-back trail is 2.1 kilometres with approximately 50 metres of elevation, perfect for beginners and cross-country skiing enthusiasts. Make a stop at the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge for a hot chocolate.
Location: Highway 40 Ribbon Creek Rd
Groomed and trackset for everyone to enjoy, Pocaterra take you through open meadows and forests with views of Mount Wintour and the Opal Range. Go out-and-back for a 9.7 kilometre journey or connect to other trails, like Whiskey Jack, and continue the adventure. Check the Peter Lougheed trail report before you go for the latest trail conditions and snowfall information.
Location: Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Located in Spray Valley Provincial Park, the Mount Shark trail is best for intermediate to advanced skiers, with some challenging sections. The trail is 15 kilometres out-and-back and popular with racers in training along six interconnected loops. It’s a great idea to download the Mount Shark trail map before you go and print a copy for easy access on your day in the mountains.
Location: Alberta T0L 2C0
Cross-country Skiing Trails in Banff and Lake Louise
Lake Louise is best known for its iconic lakeside views and the historic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, but it’s also home to an incredible network of over 15 cross-country ski trails. Challenge yourself to the Moraine Lake Road trail, a 15.6 kilometre climb with gently rolling hills or the trackset Lake Louise Loop that traverses over the frozen lake before taking a trip through the woods. Outdoor adventurists should be aware of avalanche activity in this area, with avalanche season extending from November to June each year. Stay on marked trails and check the avalanche forecast before starting your trip.
Location: Various locations
Tunnel Mountain is just the right spot for beginners to try out cross-country skiing for the first time. With 8 kilometres of trails and few hills in sight, you can get those beautiful mountain views and learn all the basic skills. The trail starts at Tunnel Mountain Village 2 but with limited parking available it’s a great idea to take Roam Transit to get there. It’s less than a 5 minute drive from the main street of Banff so you can reward yourself after a day of cross-country skiing in the mountains.
Location: 5FQ4+3G Banff, Alberta
Location: Lake Minnewanka Scenic Dr (Lake Minnewanka Parking Lot)
Take this trail counterclockwise with the 13.3 kilometre single trackset Pipestone loop. There are a few tight corners and challenging hill sections, with 190 metres of elevation, to this Lake Louise favourite. This loop is close to the Lake Louise Ski Resort for downhill skiers looking to change-up their winter skiing routine.
Location: Improvement District No. 9
Cross-country Ski Lessons
Lessons are important for new cross-country skiers to master the basics before tackling even the most introductory loops and there are plenty of organizations in and around Calgary to get you started. Cross-country Ski YYC, Norseman, Calgary Ski Club, and the University of Calgary Outdoor Centre offer all levels of lessons along with gear rentals to accommodate skiers of all ages. Outside of Calgary, the Foothills Nordic Ski Club and Canmore Nordic Centre offer lesson for beginners, as part of the popular Jackrabbit series, and family friendly samplers to get you started. Lessons range in price and can take as little as a couple of hours to a series of weeks depending on the program you choose. Check with each organization to determine which program is best to get you started and enjoying cross-country skiing this winter.
Cross-country Ski Rentals in Calgary
The University of Calgary Outdoor Centre, Norseman, and Sports Rent are convenient places in Calgary to rent cross-country skis. It’s a great idea to pickup your rentals the night before you plan to ski so you are ready to go in the morning. Outside of Calgary, Kananaskis Outfitters and Trail Sports at the Canmore Nordic Centre offer full rental packages to enjoy in the mountains. You can expect to pay approximately $25.00 per day for a full package that includes skis, boots, and poles.