Pipestone: perfect!

I’ve skied on some good conditions at Pipestone over the years, but this was sensational and probably the best ever. It’s rare for me to call the conditions perfect, but they were. Simply amazing for the first tracksetting. 

Jana and Keith on Pipestone at 1K

Chris, Karl and Chuckley have already submitted a report and referred to the conditions as great. The snow was blue-wax cold, clean and free of debris, and the new tracks had set up well by the time I started out around 12:30 pm. The surroundings were indeed winter wonderland, with snow-laden trees, sun and no wind. The temperature was -9°C at the trailhead. 

I skied the perimeter loop which consists of 9.8K on Pipestone #20 with a final 2.9K on Hector #21. The total distance of the loop is 13.1K. If you’re adding it up, the maps don’t indicate the initial 400 metres when starting out. 

Going counter-clockwise along the ridge above the Pipestone river involves a net elevation gain of 130 metres over the first 6K but it seemed effortless today.

Reg and Barb on Pipestone

There are seven short but steep hills which I didn’t even have to herringbone. It’s such a beautiful trail, meandering through the forest with occasional views to the east. It reminds me of Fox Creek in PLPPP except four times as long. 

At 6.6K, I stopped and checked the river at the extreme north end of the system to see if there is a possibility of a satellite couch. The river is frozen and covered with snow and looked like a beautiful spot for development. 


After reaching the high point at 8K, I had a wonderful, safe, and fun trip back down without any white-knuckling on some of those fast, winding, downhills. I could see that the tracksetter spent a lot of time shovelling snow onto the trails in a number of thin spots. 

Bow River Loop

Merlin and Drummond were not trackset yet, but the Lake Louise trail report indicates they have been completed. 

As we’re hearing on the trip reports, conditions at Lake Louise are phenomenal right now and should stay that way for a while. Thank you to everyone who has submitted a trip report. This recent snowfall has improved conditions immensely. 

The downhills on Pipestone get scraped down by snowplowing, so don’t expect it to be as perfect as I had it today. 

After completing the Pipestone loop, I skied the south end of the Bow River loop on similarly excellent conditions. I got there just as the sun was sinking below the mountains. If you have the opportunity to ski it in the sun, it is gorgeous. 

The south end of the Bow River Loop, starting at the campground bridge, is 4K.


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  1. Bob, did you or do you know if it’s possible to ski between Pipestone and the Town Trails to the Campground/Bow River trails?


  2. Snowmobile single track-set trails through the trees are such a treat — an increasingly rare feature in an era embracing the development of safe, multi-use, big machine grooming. Both means ARE great, and I hope both can coexist. Some other faves are Telemark, Upper Macabee Loop, Hostel & Telephone Loops, and the ‘Hiking Trail’ in the Allison-Chinook Wonderlands ….

  3. Did you manage to check snow depth over the ice on the river? I’m guessing not enough yet, but worth a visit given the trail conditions for some initial compacting.

    • I was too chicken to go onto the river and nobody else had attempted it. I’ll be posting some photos although I imagine it’s difficult to estimate snow depth from photos.

      • If they were shovelling to trackset, probably not enough for a one day build, especially on river ice and with prior warm temps. Needs some advance compaction, more cold temps and another storm. Might get there soon, replacement XC gear imminent. And the advertising sure looks good.

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