The perfect beginner’s trail


If you’re a beginner or novice skier, chances are you’ve never heard of it. It’s easier than Ribbon Creek, it’s an hour closer to Calgary than those fabulous, easy trails at Lake Louise, and today, it was groomed and trackset for the first time this winter. Not only that, but they’re shooting a movie about 1 kilometre away(okay, that’s actually a disadvantage). The movie people should be gone soon.

Note: Check the trail reports and/or at the Barrier Lake visitro centre before going to this destination, as snow conditions can be poor. It would be best to go after a recent grooming/tracksetting.

Tracksetter Jeff and the Pisten-Bully at Wedge Pond

To get to the the Wedge Connector, drive about 7K south of the Kananaskis Village/Ribbon Creek turn-off, and park at the Wedge Pond day use area. You’ll find the easiest trail in Kananaskis there, and very few people, so you can fall down in anonymity.

You can ski 2.8K to the Evan-Thomas creek. You’ll find a bridge there, and possibly some grooming on the Evan-Thomas fire road, although I’m not sure if Jeff was able to go there with the Pisten-Bully today because of the movie infrastructure.

You can also ski a slightly hillier trail(when you’re ready to practice the snowplowing technique) which takes you across the highway, through Mt Kidd RV park, and up to the golf course. It’s the Bill Milne trail, which actually goes all the way to Kananaskis Village, but I believe the conditions from the golf course to the village aren’t ideal.

These trails are wide enough for skaters.

Ribbon Creek & Kananaskis Village

Ribbon Creek now has its first tracks of the season and are mostly in nice condition. There are still a few icy patches from the ice storm we had about three weeks ago.

As you reach higher elevations on Kovach, the conditions are terrific. Coming down from the Lookout was easy and fun, as the S-turns still have lots of snow. Terrace, heading out from the village, has older tracksetting but is still in very good condition. New tracks start after 700 metres.

The final 1K on Terrace heading down to Ribbon Creek parking lot is so much fun it makes you glad to be alive.

Graham has a question re: Backcountry trails

Hi Bob,

I love your site. I just moved to Calgary last winter and have found lots of great information here.

I ski classic and skate but what I really like is to break trail in fresh snow. I’m wondering if you could recommend some trails that are not groomed.

I’m at a bit of a loss about where to start looking. The mellow terrain of the foothills doesn’t seem to get much snow while the beautiful snow in the mountains is usually way too steep for XC skiing or and anything below tree line is thick with spruce trees.

Anyway, I’m sure you’re a busy guy, but any feedback would be greatly appreciated!



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  1. Hey Henry,

    I’m a young guy, but for the past couple years I skied on wooden skis with 1970’s low-top leather boots. I loved those things. They had a beautiful weight and flex to them and seemed to magically grip in all sorts of conditions. Finally the the black tar wore off and I didn’t know where to get it refinished.

    • Graham,
      I took my wooden’s to Lifesport in Kennsigton. We decided in the end they had their day but as of last winter they were offering the tar service.

  2. Hey Alf,

    Thanks for recommending some trails. That’s exactly the kind of info I was looking for; the kind of thing you can’t get in a book.

    I do most of my skiing on 90mm tip, metal edged light touring skies with a medium stiff 75mm boot & binding. There’s just enough support there for turning in soft snow.

    Have a great ski season,


    • Graham, the most beautiful light touring ski I ever saw or owned was one that Alf recommended to us back in the day. It was the red Kastle Trail LW. It looked great and performed great!

      I look back with a bit of shock now at those days when it was fun to try to go as light as possible. There were trips I did with the Trail LW ski using a 50 mm Adidas binding that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone -). Alf was always experimenting, and some of us took him too literally at times !!!

      You certainly have to match the equipment to the trip, and Graham your combination sounds very good for the back country trails.

  3. Hey Alf, great suggestions. I lurk on Bob’s site. It’s great to see all the outdoors activities going on. Your ski season comes so early!
    The very first trail I skied was Taylor Lake (’78 ? !!!) with wooden skis.
    After a big snowfall it shouldn’t be bad to come down, eh?

  4. Graham, here are a few suggestions for ungroomed trails that can be OK for XC touring skis:
    The Telephone Loop at West Bragg Creek.
    Highway #66, past the gates at Elbow Falls and up to the Rainy Pass area
    The Eagle Hill trail at Sibbald Lake along Hwy #68

    The three trails listed above are in the foothills and are best between late December and mid-March, when enough snow has fallen along the eastern side of the Rockies. Use the West Bragg Creek trail reports as a guideline.
    The following trails are in the Kananaskis Lakes and Smith-Dorrien valley areas. They typically get a lot of snow. These trails are free from avalanche risk.
    Hwy #40, south of the Kananaskis Lakes turn-off. This used to be trackset at one time.
    The Smith-Dorrien trails between Sawmill Day Use area and Chester Day Use area. These trails used to be groomed, but have not been maintained for several years. The ones that are in better shape (less little trees and deadfall) will hopefully be signed as snowshoe trails this winter.
    The Burstall Pass Trail to Burstall Flats.
    The Chester Lake Loop
    The Rummel Lake trail
    The old logging road that runs between the Mt. Shark road near Engadine Lodge and Commonwealth Creek.
    In Banff Natiional Park, there are several trails that can be good.
    Boom Lake trail is signed as an ungroomed XC trail, but it also gets a lot of snowshoe traffic.
    Healy Pass is a favorite of mine, but you’ll need a good snowplow on some of the hills. I prefer wider skis for this one.
    Taylor Lake and Tower Lake trails are also used as touring trails by folks on XC ski gear, but they both gain a lot of elevation and require nearly constant snowplowing on the way down. I prefer to use wider backcountry skis for these two trails.

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