Spray River West

I started this blog to assist readers by informing them of the conditions on trails where I’ve skied. It turns out that quite often now, it’s the readers who are informing me. Thanks to Chuck’s trip report, I went for a late-afternoon ski on the Spray River west trail which starts near the Banff Springs Hotel. By far, it’s in the best condition we’ve seen this winter.

I skied to the junction where “east meets west” at 5.7K, crossed the bridge to discover the east side has not been trackset, then ventured a further 1.5K along the west side, which takes you to the high point and gives you a nice long downhill on the return.

Spray River trail west, approx 5.9K from trailhead. This is two hundred metres beyond the picnic table.

I spoke to a group of skiers who went to the Goat Creek bridge and reported that it was trackset all the way. Don’t try to start from the Goat Creek trailhead tomorrow, however, because the Smith-Dorrien is closed between the Grassi Lakes day use area at Canmore and Mt Engadine due to avalanches. You can still access MT Shark and Mt Engadine from the South. Grassi Lakes day use area is about 2K beyond the nordic centre.

With 25 – 30 cm of new snow, the tracks were still soft but the mountain scenery and snow-covered trees were beautiful, so I didn’t mind having to go slow. One skater was having a tough go of it on the extremely soft skating lane. I skied ’til 6:40 pm and still had plenty of light. Next week, you can extend that by an hour.

Today’s trip reports from our valued readers indicate that grooming is occurring on the Kananaskis Village trails, PLPP, and West Bragg Creek.

With the warm temperatures in the forecast, the conditions most likely will deteriorate by the weekend, so why don’t you go skiing tomorrow? I declare March 7 an official statutory holiday for cross-country skiers.

Chester Lake received 57 cm of snow from this latest storm. According to Meghan’s trip report, Elk Pass received about 40-50 cm.

The Feb Trip Reports page was accessed 5,702 times by readers. That doesn’t count all the times I read it.


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  1. themanwhomethiswifeinbanff

    Hi, the Spray River hostel for sure did exist on Canada day 1988, since I spent a few nights there while travelling Canada. And there has been some activity among the travellers, to form whatever kind of protest against it’s closure, which was close to come. Still good to remember the place!

  2. The Spray did indeed have a Hostel that was removed sometime in the early 80’s. It consisted of several cabins and a custodian hut. It was located on the Banff Springs side about halfway to the first bridge over the Spray. As you ski down the longest hill at the bottom the river is right beside the road on your left and the Hostel was in the clearing to your right.

  3. The old hostel was removed in about 1986. And yes it was more than one building. Many of us remember Tony, the custodian… quite the character!
    The clearing is still very evident among some huge trunked trees at the bottom of the big hill just a few km out of town.

  4. In my mind it is still there however obviously it is not. The question I would like to add to yours is when did it disappear??? Oh yes— I believe it was actually four buildings.

  5. Did the Spray River previously have a hut or hostel somewhere down it’s length?
    I recall long ago, after a day skiing, perhaps the telemark course at Norquay, Alf took us in to what I can only imagine was the Spray River where we slept over in a hut.

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