My answer to Catherine

Re: Beginner Skiers

(Below is the email I sent to Catherine in response to her question. I was hoping to get more comments, but I am appreciative of the response which Rose sent. She mentions a little-known trail which is fabulous for beginners, Spruce Road.)

The first place to go is Mountain Equipment Co-op to buy some indispensable books and maps:

Kananaskis Country Ski Trails by Gillean Daffern
Ski Trails in the Canadian Rockies by Chic Scott

Gem-Trek Maps: (these maps will give you a general overview of the area and indicate the roads you need to take. They also show the trails, but not in great detail.)

  •  Kananaskis Lakes – will show you the Peter Lougheed Prov Park(PLPP) trails
    Canmore and Kananaskis Village – will show you the Ribbon Creek and Kananaskis Village trails
    Bragg Creek and Elbow Falls – will show you the West Bragg Creek ski trails

The first time you go:

Head west on Hwy #1 to Hwy 40 and turn south(this is the Stoney-Nakoda Casino corner). A few K down Hwy 40, you’ll come to the Barrier Lake Visitor Centre. Stop here and buy some more maps(I think they’re about $1 or $2 each).

  • Ribbon Creek Cross-Country Ski Trails
    Peter Lougheed Prov Park Cross-Country Ski Trails
    West Bragg Creek Cross-Country Ski Trails

Beginner Trails

Kananaskis Village-Ribbon Creek and PLPP

If you’re heading south on Hwy #40, the first ski area you will arrive at is the Kananaskis Village – Ribbon Creek trails. The best trails for beginners are Ribbon Creek(accessed at the Ribbon Creek parking lot), and Terrace trail which starts at the village(that was the first trail I ever skied on).

If you drive further south on Hwy #40, you will come to Peter Lougheed Prov Park. Some of the easier trails here would be Pocaterra(accessed at the Pocaterra Hut), Wheeler(accessed at Elkwood Amphitheatre). A kittle-known trail that is the absolute perfect beginner’s trail is Spruce Road and the William Watson Lodge trails(accessed from Elkwood Amphitheatre or William Watson Lodge).

Canmore Nordic Centre

The Banff Trail is wide and rated easy. The initial 3K of this trail is usually man-made snow, so it’s very hard. Maybe not the nicest snow to fall down in. They will also have a multi-lane practice grid beside the Daylodge. You’ll have to pay a $7.50 trail fee to ski at CNC.

 West Bragg Creek

I’m not sure if I would recommend these trails for a beginner. If Mountain Road was trackset, it’s pretty easy but very short.

Other Suggestions:

Wait until the trails are trackset as it means there will most likely be good snow cover. Check the Trail Reports for Kananaskis. You don’t want to ski on trails with any hazards as a beginner. The Pocaterra Hut usually has a five lane practice grid that’s good for a beginner. Take a spare pair of gloves in your back pack. Don’t go too far the first time as you want to make sure your new boots don’t give you blisters. If they do, at least it won’t be so far to return. Take blister bandages as a precaution.

Rose was also correct in suggesting the PLPP Visitor Centre as a place for buying the additional detailed maps. Be aware, however, that PLPP Visitor Centre is not open on Tues and Wed.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Bill Milne trail in the Ribbon Creek area is an eight kilometer (one way) basically flat trail that goes from Ribbon Creek to Wedge Pond. There is a slight downhill from South to North making your stride and glide feel like you’re a seasoned pro. It was double track set from Ribbon to Wedge on Nov 24.

    That’s wonderful news. Quite often in the past, this trail would only be groomed with corduroy for skating, so I wasn’t sure whether to include it. I agree, it would be a terrific beginner’s trail. -Bob

  2. Re Canmore Nordic Centre: Day pass is now $10, up from 7.50. However, they had not raised prices for 4 years. It’s a much better deal than Canada Olympic Park, where the day pass is $17. Same is true of season pass: $150 vs. $169. Early bird discounts were available. Before going to Nordic Centre, check event schedule. When major events are held, parking lot fills, and day lodge may be full of racers.

  3. Last winter was my first nordic skiing, and if drive times aren’t an issue, I’d also suggest going to Lake Louise. Moraine Lake Road and the Great Divide were both fun as a beginner who had no cross country skills but some basic fitness as they are fairly flat and straight. Cascade Fire Road by Lake Minnewanka was also a favourite from last year as again it’s not too technical.

  4. Philip; Good suggestions. I wish we’d get more comments and info regarding the golf courses. You must have missed the story about Hawkridge
    It’s shut down.

  5. Other spots worth checking out are local Calgary Parks and golf courses as long as there is snow coverage in town. Saves driving time!
    The Shaganappi golf course and Confederation Park are two that come to mind. Might also want to check Hawk Ridge (fees) website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *