Where can beginners ski?

Received this email from a beginner skier and I’m posting it because I expect there are a lot of others in the same situation:

Hi Bob.

I’ve been reading your blog site everyday since learning about it from the staff at Lifesport. My wife and I are just getting into the sport, having recently bought our equipment. I’ve been learning everything I can about waxing…it’s a little intimidating, but I think I have it. We are taking a ski lesson on the 18th and then after that would like to start venturing out 1 day a week. Can you recommend some beginner trails, that is, ones that don’t have really steep runs and perhaps maybe would only appeal to other beginners? I read about the incident where you and another skier disagreed on etiquette . I had a fellow get mad at me last year on my first day out when I was having a tough time getting up a hill at the SprayRiver loop. I was on rentals and couldn’t quite follow why he was upset other than the fact that I was doing something wrong. That’s why it would be great to find a trail that is mostly beginners. And I’ll be asking about trail etiquette at the lesson.

Any info would be great,

I’ve left a comment with my suggestions, but more input would be welcome. I also want experienced skiers to read this and be a little more accommodating to the beginners.

Goat Creek

I will have a posting later about Goat Creek. If you’re planning to go there this weekend, make new plans. It’s treacherous.



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  1. Wow. Thanks Bob for passing along my query. And thanks to everyone for their input. Lots of options to get started on. We’ll see you on the trails.


  2. Am I the only one making no association whatsoever between a skier’s level and the difficulty rating of a track? I’ve skied quite a few thousand kilometres classic over the last 15 years (all outside Alberta), have become a very fast, skilled, and fit skier, though I’m always looking for *flat* terrain. I just *hate* going down a hill, especially if there are any curves along the slope. Any flat but long enough trails (10km+) among the ones that have been suggested so far?

  3. Before I jump in and recommend trails…one of the secrets to getting started is going for good snow…nothing can ruin a new skiers experience more then poor conditions …so check the trail reports before you head out…also of importance for novice skiers…a ski lodge or warm up shelter…look for a trail system which offers a series of short trails which you can explore…come back to the lodge, warm up rest, and go out again….and challenge yourself on short trails with greater technical difficulty.
    Having said that…Pocaterra Hut and the south end of Peter Lougheed is a classic novice area

    At Lake Louise, While many skiers might recommend Morraine Lake Road…I shy away from it in recommending it to novice skiers as it is a continuous uphill slog…and downhill run on the return…far better is the Fairview Trail…or the 1A Highway (Great Divide).
    Canmore Nordic Center has an excellent beginners trail…
    When Ribbon Creek has good snow…a number of the trails close to the hotel and Nakiska ski hill…are great for novices…but avoid trails with a lot of elevation gain like lookout…until you have built up your fitness and technical ability…

    Mount Shark…by all means Watridge Lake trail…and most of the trails are skiable by novices….but beware of the three very technical loops at the begining of the trail system which can be bypassed…

  4. Today, Sat Feb 4th, we skied Alluvial Fan out at Emerald Lake. It is perfect for new people to the sport as it is a circuit of 5.3 kms with many wonderful benches to stop at and enjoy the sun (thank you to the local Kicking Horse Ski Club) and what incredible scenery!!!! Park right at end of Emerald Lake Road and trail starts immediately at the (lake) side of the delightful friendly quaint store. Suggest ski counter-clockwise to enjoy the VERY gentle down hill at the end and also ski right across the lake to avoid the trail adjacent to the lake which is more of a blue run. Today it was like being in heaven.

  5. Might be too late now but there is free x-country ski lessons at Lake Louise today.

    Sorry to hear about the way you were treated! I know how I felt when I was just starting out. Frustration, cursing and just down right scared, hang in there.

  6. Here’s where I would take beginners:

    At PLPP give Elkwood a try, head out on Wheeler and turn left on Amos. It is very easy terrain and out in the open you get wonderful views of the mountains.

    Once you get your ski legs, you can then venture further out on Amos, or head back to Wheeler and try you luck on the Wheeler hill. If you make it that far you will be rewarded with several picnic tables and great views west to the headwalls west of the Upper lake.

    I often see beginner skiers on Amos or Wheeler. Give it a try.

  7. This email was sent in by Gordon Smith:

    I would suggest Great Divide Track Set Trails at Lake Louise ( take the last right turn at the bend in road before Deer Lodge) – you will see the Dog Sled Teams for hire there.

    Good Parking there and very good snow conditions and easy trails. Don’t be scared if a Dog Sled Team suddenly comes up from behind you on their side trail – so quiet.

    Skiied there to-day and superb, Temp minus 5 at 3pm. colder earlier, so wise to be layered.
    Besides, the Ice Carvings in front of Chateau Lake Louise are still in good shape and awesome to see.

    Congratulations Bob on your Website – have checked it for two years, very informational.
    Sorry to hear of Cheryl’s accident and being out of action for awhile. Hope all is going well for her. Looking forward to seeing her back in action in your pictures.

  8. I was also going to recommend Ribbon Creek, it’s nice and easy. And it’s an out-and-back so you can choose exactly how far you want to ski. It’s reasonably close to Calgary compared to many of the other trails. I’m assuming you’re from the Calgary area, Scott, since you mentioned Life Sport. But the lower elevation of the Ribbon Creek trail means the snow often isn’t as good as the trails farther into Peter Lougheed park.

    The scenery at Mount Shark is gorgeous, and the Watridge Lake trail is very gentle and nice.

    If we ever get enough snow again in the city (what a weird winter we’re having) there are groomed ski tracks at the Shaganappi golf course. They are great for beginners.


  9. Since snow conditions aren’t that good, I will start with a few trails that would be appropriate, where I know the snow is still in nice shape.

    Pocaterra, starting from the hut
    Spruce Road, starting from Elkwood Amphitheatre or William Watson Lodge

    Lake Louise:
    Great Divide(1A Hwy)
    Moraine Lake Road for the first 2.6K

    Watridge Lake Road at Mt Shark

    When snow conditions improve, here are some more:

    Canmore Nordic Centre’s Banff Trail Loop(man-made snow) and Banff trail(natural snow)
    Ribbon Creek
    Wedge Connector

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