An embarrassment of riches for xc skiers

Chuck’s back yard in Banff

We have a problem on our hands: Where to ski tomorrow with so many possibilities? I expect the choices will only increase and I will update this post as the evening wears on and I receive more reports.

Chuck skied right out his door this morning, through the woods where he saw the beautiful buck, and onto Spray River West which is behind the Banff Springs Hotel. 

Spray River West. Photo by Chuck

While he was out on the trail in 35 cm of snow, the Banff tracksetter showed up and started packing, rolling, and eventually tracksetting the trail. 

We don’t know yet if he continued on to Goat Creek or if that will be a job for some other day.

See all Chuck’s photos. 

Also in Banff, the Tunnel Mountain trails were trackset. These are easy, beginner-friendly trails. 

Roller-packing on Spray River West

West Bragg Creek trails are being worked on today. I expect the skiing there will be terrific tomorrow. It’s getting cold tonight(-14°C), so anything that has been trackset today/tonight with the snow rabbit should be set-up nice and firm. 

I think the WBC tracksetters are having fun with their new toy, and the tracksetting should be top-notch. 

West Bragg Creek Parking: Alf mentioned this…“The parking lot was about half cleared. I am guessing that the other half might get cleared tonight.  But it would be appreciated if people only parked within the areas that have already been cleared. That would make it easier for the machines to clear the remainder of the parking lot.”

Thanks to Helen’s report, we know that the trails at the Canmore Nordic Centre are being groomed and hopefully trackset. Sometimes there’s too much snow, as we see at Skogan Pass…

Grooming Ribbon Creek tonight

Alex is packing the Skogan Pass trails today. Update 6 pm: I just got an email from Alex “Skogan was only track packed today. Just too much snow ( 60 cm or so plus old unconsolidated underneath ) to groom and track. Hopefully tomorrow night.” With the cat-track it will leave a choppy surface, so probably not the best for skiing on steep hills.

Ribbon Creek tracksetter Jeff is relieving Alex to work a second shift doing the Kananaskis Village trails tonight. Update 7:50 pm: Jeff took the picture at the right as he was packing Ribbon Creek and sent these remarks: Second pass on Coalmine and Ribbon. 2 more passes and it should be good to go tomorrow.”

Strathmore snowcat

The Strathmore golf course was groomed with the big snowcat today. Tracksetter Ed Meyer remarked “We managed to get in a good pack early this morning, which got us up and running. Once this sets up we would only need a small snowfall in order to trackset. I think people will be content just to get out on a packed track.” Ed sent the following video…

It costs $5 to ski at Strathmore which goes towards maintenance of the snowcat. Ed Meyer, private citizen, purchased the snowcat himself and does the grooming out of the goodness of his heart. When I had a dog, this was one of my favourite places to take her skiing.

I imagine the PLPP snowcat is prowling around in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park today. Keep an eye on the PLPP trail report to see what has been accomplished. 

It sounds like we’ll have trackset skiing at Confederation golf course tomorrow. 

With so much available close to home, will anyone go to Lake Louise anymore? If so, the Great Divide was trackset today. 


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  1. Kudos and many thanks to all those who have been out track setting the trails throughout the season – you do great work so that we can have a great time out there!

  2. Fyi, I just called Strathmore golf course (“pro desk” still open). Day passes of $5, or annual pass of $50 required (ie. not by donation), and dogs must be on leash and off the groomed tracks. Looks like WBC is still the only area with some off-leash xc skiing. :-/

    • Erika, thanks for your feedback. After inquiring with Brian Bassen, manager of the golf club, I received this email: “Hi Bob,
      Good to hear from you. Dogs ARE allowed on our cross country ski trails. You must have your pet on a leash, and bring a plastic bag.
      Happy New Year!”

      As in every place where dogs are allowed, they want you to keep your dog off the tracks, but they are allowed on the corduroy.


    There is a lack of xc skiing “riches” in Banff to date. There is no ski access to the Ink Pots this year. Brewster Creek, Healy Creek and Redearth have yet to be trackset. Hopefully that will occur today, but I will not bet on that with my skiing life.

    I will likely investigate Brewster Creek tomorrow and ski pack the short cut trail, if my legs can tolerate doing so.

  4. FYI that the CNC trail report indicates that Grassi Lakes and Hwy 742 above Canmore are closed due to avalanche risk. Apparently avi control is scheduled to start tomorrow Dec 23 at 10 am… Always fun to watch the slides that are intentionally triggered!

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