Growing up, I always thought cross country skiing is for the elderly who have trouble moving and can’t do any other winter sports. Maybe because the first time I saw cross country skiing was from my grandfather.
But it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Michal and I discovered cross country skiing when we moved to Canada. Since the Canadian Rockies offer us plenty of outdoor sports options, we thought, why not give it a try?
And we haven’t looked back since. We are both runners, and this sport complements it perfectly. I love that you can choose your pace based on your mood. You can either slide slowly while enjoying the snowy scenery or pick up the pace and simulate running.
This post includes the best options for cross country skiing in Calgary and the mountains close to Calgary.
Cross country skiing in Calgary
We all want to have set tracks for cross country skiing in a dreamy mountainous landscape and hear only the ski’s satisfying slide on the snow, am I right?
Living in Calgary, it’s also relatively easy to achieve that. Just head to the Rockies, and you can have it all within an hour.
But for people with busy schedules, if you’re not in a mood to drive or want to get a quick workout outdoors, the city can offer some fantastic cross country skiing options as well (that are free to use).
NEW in 2020: East Village Nordic Loop
- Location: 750 9 Ave SE
- Conditions: groomed weekly
What a delight to cross country ski right in downtown Calgary!
An area beside Fort Calgary now offers a 1 km groomed loop that’s free to use. There are two sets of cross country ski tracks and a wide path between for walkers and snowshoers.
Read the full blog post: 10 Tips for cross country skiing the Nordic Loop in East Village
- Location: 8900 48 Ave. NW.
- Conditions: groomed by City of Calgary
Beginners unite! The Bowness Park has 2.5 km of maintained flat trails. And if you’d like to enjoy the park longer, go ice skating or try ice biking. There’s also a restaurant, a small café, and washrooms.
Confederation Park Golf Course
Whatever your level is, you can cross country ski at Confederation Park Golf Course. Several loops are ranging from beginner to advanced cross country skiers, and also an amazing colourful surprise. Come in the evening from November to January and ski around the Lions’ Festival of Lights.
Fish Creek Provincial Park
Even though pathways are often plowed, there’s so much space for cross country skiing! We found cross country skiing in Fish Creek the most enjoyable right after a significant snowfall before the plowers come.
If you visit anytime during winter, I bet you find cross country tracks from fellow skiers right beside the pathways.
North Glenmore Park
- Location: 7305 Crowchild Tr. SW.
- Conditions: Ungroomed
Same as Fish Creek applies to North Glenmore Park. Blaze your own trail along the pathways. We also skied on the Glenmore Reservoir, where we saw tracks from fellow skiers.
South Glenmore Park
- Location: 90 Ave. & 24 St. S.W.
- Conditions: groomed by City of Calgary on Wednesdays
South Glenmore Park includes the Weaselhead Natural Area.
Shaganappi Point Golf Course
- Location: 1200 26 Street SW.
- Conditions: groomed weekly by Shaganappi Nordic Operations Club
- Trail map
Calgary has an insane amount of golf courses. Using them for cross country skiing is of much better use, in my opinion. Shaganappi Point Golf Course offers lovely downtown views.
Read next: Cross country ski trails in Banff
Cross country ski rentals in Calgary
If you love cross country skiing, MEC in downtown offers good (and also budget-friendly) options, but I suggest renting first if you’re a beginner. There are several rental places, including:
- Outdoor Centre (University of Calgary)
- Sports Rent
- Life Sport
- Norseman Outdoor Specialist
- Outlaw Sports
Cross country skiing near Calgary
Here come the beautiful mountainous options for cross country skiing near Calgary.
West Bragg Creek
West Bragg Creek is just 40 minutes from Calgary and offers 66 km of trails. No matter your level of experience, you can find trails from easy to difficult. The loop ranges from 1 to 15 km, and you can choose which loop to take next on every intersection where the map is provided.
We went cross country skiing to Mount Shark, and while the location is beautiful and trails are well maintained, it’s a location for advanced skiers. The rolling hills are not for beginners; trust me!
Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park
Canmore Nordic Centre is an hour away from Calgary and more than 65 km of maintained trails. If you’d like to visit in the evening, a 6.5 km loop is lit. They offer rentals and a big Day lodge to warm up and even buy some snacks or lunch.
Visit the information counter for maps or tips. While this is the only place charging a mandatory fee, it’s well worth it.
I hope you’re stoked about winter, and I wish you a wonderful time on trails!
More winter activities in Calgary & beyond
- Outdoor ice skating in Calgary: a breakdown of all options
- Discover 19 amazing wall murals in Calgary with our map
- Zoolights in Calgary: 18 best displays and tips for visiting
Winter day trips from Calgary
- Ice skating on frozen mountain lakes
- Dinosaur museum in Drumheller
- Frozen winter wonderland in Johnston Canyon
- Hiking up the Sulphur Mountain in Banff