What’s your criteria for a good ski trail?
Visitors to the SkierBob empire often ask questions about what trails we would recommend. For example, two recent comments…
“my wife and I are heading to Banff for a wek of winter fun any am a regular visitor to this great website . Any suggestions for some must ski trails next week would be great” – Kevin Fox
“Hello – we are excited to come ski in the mountains next weekend as we are from Ontario and very little snow here for good X country skiing. We have visited Lake Louise 3 different years and skied many of the trails around Lake Louise. Last year we skied Lake O’Hara which was unbelievable. I was hoping for a response for a few good suggestions that might be a good 3-5 hour ski or a favourite ski that might include a break for lunch!!” – Jennifer Ferguson
There are 23 on my list and I’ve probably forgotten a few. When conditions are good, just about any trail would qualify as a “must ski,” but it’s difficult to make recommendations for other people when we don’t really know what their criteria for a “must ski” is, or what their ability and fitness are. Are you willing to ski a trail with spectacular scenery on sketchy conditions, or would you prefer a less-scenic trail with excellent conditions?
Some other factors to consider:
- Is spectacular scenery important?
- Do you want a strenuous workout or easy, flatter terrain?
- Do you want a loop or an out-and-back?
- Are you comfortable with steep trails which involve lots of elevation and fast downhills?
- How important are the conditions?
- Is proximity to a warm daylodge necessary?
- Driving distance to the trail.
Here’s my “must ski” list with the proviso that conditions would be near-perfect:
- Tyrwhitt Loop(PLPP)
- Goat Creek to Banff(BNP)
- Climb Whiskey Jack followed by 6K of fast downhill on Pocaterra(PLPP)
- Skogan Pass summit and/or Hummingbird Plume(KV)
- Cascade Valley(BNP)
- Lake O’Hara fire road(LL)
- Kananaskis Fire Lookout(PLPP)
- Mt Shark: Watridge Lake road to Spray bridge and the 5K Green(MS)
- Blueberry Hill(PLPP)
- Moraine Lake road(LL)
- Redearth Creek(BNP)
- Healy Creek and Brewster Creek(seldom has good conditions)(BNP)
Easier ski trips:
- Bill Milne, Wedge Connector, Evan-Thomas(KV)
- Emerald Lake Alluvial Fan(Yoho)
- Fairview Loop at Lake Louise(LL)
- Castle Lookout to Baker Creek(LL)
- Great Divide(LL)
- Kananaskis Village Loop(KV)
- Any Loop at the north end of PLPP(PLPP)
- Spray River Loop(BNP)
- Bow River Loop at Lake Louise(LL)
- Bow/Meadowview loop at Canmore Nordic Centre(CNC)
- Emerald Connector(Yoho)
PLPP: Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
KV: Kananaskis Village
MS: Mount Shark
BNP: Banff National Park
LL: Lake Louise
Biggest bang for the buck…
If you are a beginner skier who wants an easy trail with no hills, have less than an hour to ski, and want spectacular scenery, Hay Meadow in the Ribbon Creek trail system would be my recommendation. It’s only 1.6K(3.2K) return. It features panoramic mountain views, open meadows, a stretch along the Kananaskis river, and a short but pleasant ski through the forest.
What would you recommend to a visitor?