A wonderful surprise

Spray river west side, 7k from Banff

After reading Adam’s comment last night about Spray River(aka Goat Creek), I decided to ski there today on the new tracksetting. The Banff trail report this morning confirmed that Spray River east and west were trackset yesterday(I’m not sure, but I believe Goat Creek officially starts at the second Spray River bridge, which is 9.9K from Banff).

My first tracks on the new Spray river bridge(On my previous ski trip here, the bridge had just been replaced and there was no snow on it yet)

The initial 2K on the Spray River west are crappy. Lots of tree debris, thin snow cover, and still some icy tracks. It gets better with each kilometre, however.

Upon arriving at the 9.9K trail marker, I could see the trail was packed further on(now it’s Goat Creek).  I skied down the hill to the new bridge over the Spray River(it now has snow and is skiable), and headed up the hill on the other side. Two hundred metres up the hill, I was greeted by more new tracksetting.

Goat creek, 400 metres east of the Goat creek bridge. It would be 6.7K to the Canmore trailhead from here.

Thrilled with my discovery, I continued on to the Goat Creek bridge and up the other side until I could verify that, indeed, the new tracks were there, too. My GPS indicated 12.2K to this point. It would have been another 6.7 to the Canmore trailhead, but I turned back, having been out a lot longer than I had planned.

It was snowing most of the time, and there was already about 4 cm of new snow over the tracks, so I was breaking trail.  Near the Banff Springs trailhead, there was only 1-2 cm of new snow. I’d like to ski Goat Creek from the Canmore side tomorrow, so I hope someone reading this will go out early and break trail for the first 7K. 🙂

Nowhere on the Banff trail report does it mention that Goat creek was recently trackset.

Depending on where you look, there are a number of different distances for the Spray River/Goat Creek trail. Every map, guide book, and trail marker have conflicting information, varying from 16 – 20K. My GPS indicates 19K.

Question from Matt about skate skiing:

 “Good morning Bob:  

I recently stumbled across your site and it has become key to organizing myself for trips to the mountains.  

I do have a question for you and any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated. I recently made the transition from classic to skate skiing. However, I have not been in Alberta that long and am only starting to explore and discover the many different trails. I have gone out to the Nordic Center a few times but find it a bit difficult going there as, while I’m decent on the skate skis, I am still learning and the constant climbing on even the easy trails is a bit difficult when I am still trying to completely figure out the skis and do not yet have the endurance to skate up all the hills.  

So I was wondering if you have any suggestions for skate trails which may be easier places to learn (ie a bit flatter) and figure out the striding? I attempted to try Cascade in Banff last week but some new snow had fallen after it had been groomed so it would have been a bit difficult for me.   Any suggestions or hints you may have would be greatly appreciated.   Oh and I live in Calgary too if that helps.  

Thanks so much in advance and kudos for a wonderful website.”  



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  1. Ah hah! Spray River trail it is. I’m still working on getting my trail names right. 🙂

  2. Matt:

    Try the Great Divide trail in Lake Louise, also known as the 1A Hwy. That’s one of the best beginner’s trails there is. You can go for 7K before you reach the hill. The downside, of course, is that it’s a longer drive.

    If the Bill Milne trail at Ribbon Creek ever gets enough snow to groom, that’s another one. On the same system is the Wedge Connector. Those trails are wide enough for skate skiing.

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