Cross-country skiing is an affordable winter sport that is relatively easy to learn for the whole family. It’s free to ski on most groomed trails and once you invest in the equipment, you’re good to go! I recommend starting off with second-hand skis and boots while the kids are still growing, or you can rent skis for the occasional day if you aren’t ready to commit to the sport.
Shaganappi Point Golf Course. Here you’ll find 7 kilometres of easy trails for both skate and classic skiing with grooming done by the Shaganappi Nordic Operations Club. This has always been one of my family’s favorite places to ski in the city because of the variety of loops, allowing you to ‘choose your own adventure’ every time without having to ski laps around the same circle. There is also a large parking lot off Bow Trail and 26 Street SW. For more information on trail conditions, where to rent skis, where to take lessons, and for a map of the trails, visit shaganappinordic.ca.
Confederation Park Golf Course and Canmore Park. Confederation Park has approximately 6 kilometres of grooming for classic and skate skiing, maintained by the Foothills Nordic Ski Club. My family has always enjoyed skiing around the easy loops here, and you can extend your outing by crossing over to Canmore Park where there is another loop with 2 kilometres of additional grooming. The golf course parking lot is located off Collingwood Drive NW and when it’s not open to the public, you can park along 19 Street or at Canmore Park (19 Street and Chicoutimi Drive NW).
Often, Confederation Park has the best skiing in the city, and volunteers put in hours of work ‘snow farming’ to create skiable paths, even in dry periods between snow falls. For more information on trail conditions and for a map of the trails, visit foothillsnordic.ca. Alternatively, in south Calgary, Foothills Nordic also grooms trails at the Lakeview Golf Course near North Glenmore Park.
Maple Ridge Golf Course. The City of Calgary maintains trails for cross-country skiing on this golf course located off Mapleglade Drive SE. This is a great place for families in south Calgary to get out for an afternoon close to home. Traditionally, it has been track-set on Tuesdays.
South Glenmore Park. The City of Calgary also grooms trails in this park located off 24 Street and 90 Avenue SW. Traditionally, it has been track-set on Wednesdays, and families will enjoy the playground in the park.
Cross-country skiing in a City park is more relaxed than skiing on one of the City golf courses. Dogs are welcome in the park if they are on-leash and snowshoeing is also possible for members of the family who might not want to ski but would rather hike beside the ski trails.
Bowness Park. While you’ll only find 2.5 kilometres of trails here, The City of Calgary does a fantastic job of creating a nice flat loop that you can repeat several times for a longer ski. My family also enjoys bringing our skates for a mixed outing of skiing and ice skating on the lagoon, and there is an iceway skating path in the park, too! There is no set schedule for grooming, so plan to skate if there are no recent ski tracks.
For more information on skiing in City parks, visit calgary.ca/csps/parks/locations/cross-country-skiing.html.
New places to cross-country ski in Calgary
North Glenmore Park. Relatively new, The City of Calgary will be creating groomed ski tracks in this park. There is also the new iceway skating path that opened last winter, so bring your skates.
The East Village Nordic Loop. As of last winter, the Shaganappi Nordic Operations Club began grooming a 1-kilometre cross-country ski track, in partnership with Fort Calgary and the Foothills Nordic Ski Club in downtown Calgary. The track is beginner-friendly and starts near Fort Calgary.
Know before you go!
The Foothills Nordic Club and Shaganappi Nordic Operations Club both rely on volunteers if you have time to help. They also rely on donations since skiing is free at the golf courses and the parks they groom in winter. For more information, visit their websites.
Most golf courses and parks allow snowshoeing, but never snowshoe or walk on the ski tracks or on corduroy grooming. You should snowshoe in the soft un-groomed snow to the side.
Confederation Park and Maple Ridge are popular areas for family sledding. Watch where you’re sledding and only start down a hill if there is nobody below you. Avoid sliding over ski tracks.
Dogs are not allowed on City golf courses; they are generally allowed on-leash in City parks.
You’ll need a headlamp if you want to ski in the evening as the trails in Calgary are not lit.
You’ll generally find a porta-potty on-site at most golf courses and in City parks, but it’s best to use the bathroom before you leave the house.
Cross-country skiing is free, unless you visit a private golf course, which may have additional fees or be closed to members only.
Tanya is a freelance writer and mom to an energetic boy. She loves hiking, camping, skiing, and all things mountain related. She is the author of the blog, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies, rockiesfamilyadventures.com.
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