XC Ski Trails in Kananaskis Country

Region in Alberta, Canada

Cross-country skiing in the Kananaskis area near Canmore is sublime, with excellent snow, amazing views and well-groomed trails. Though virtually unknown outside Alberta, Kananaskis is the playground for Calgarians looking to get some great XC Skiing near Calgary.

The Kananaskis is a series of Provincial Parks that feature a wide array of great cross-country ski trails. Our top ten XC ski trails in the Kananaskis include a variety of routes that will take you through snowy forests, open lake shores, and along stunning winter trails. Cross-country skiing is an excellent way to experience the Canadian Rockies in winter.

THE TOP 10 XC SKIS AROUND KANANASKIS TRAIL, ALBERTA

  1. Goat Creek to Banff Springs (19.1 km, 178 m, 3-4h): A local’s favourite XC ski trip that starts at the Goat Creek Parking lot above Canmore and follows along the Spray River to Banff. A scenic rest area makes a great place for a snack. No stopping at 4.5 km-5.0 km due to avalanche risk.
  2. Canmore Nordic Centre (13.2 km, 156 m, 2-3h): The Canmore Nordic Centre has some of the best cross-country ski trails, with exceptional grooming and trails suitable for all abilities.
  3. Ribbon Creek (10.9 km, 288 m, 1.5-3h): When the snow is good, the trails around Ribbon Creek are a joy. Not only are these cross-country ski trails close to Calgary, they also offer nice views, fun descents and the nearby Kananaskis Mountain Lodge for apres-ski meal.
  4. Pocaterra (22.3 km, 521 m, 4-6h): The Pocaterra network of XC trails, near Kananaskis Lakes, offer some of the best snow and grooming in the Rockies. There are a wide variety of trails, from easy to advanced.
  5. West Bragg Creek (9.0 km, 152 m, 1-2h): West Bragg Creek offers some of the best XC Skiing near Calgary. The base at West Bragg Creek offers a wide range of trails, from beginner to expert. When the snow is good, skiing at West Bragg Creek is a joy.
  6. Elk Pass (12.0 km, 282 m, 2-3h): The cross-country ski to Elk Pass, near Kananaskis Lakes, is a fun ski. This XC Ski trail typically has great snow and good grooming. Combine this with a run up to Blueberry Hill (for experts) for a great day out.
  7. Skogan Pass (18.6 km, 682 m, 2.5-5h): The XC Ski up to Skogan Pass is a classic cross-country ski trail in the Kananaskis. Located adjacent to Nakiska, Skogan Pass is a joy when conditions are good, though the way back down can be a challenging XC Ski for beginners and intermediates.
  8. Evan-Thomas and Wedge Pond (10.4 km, 103 m, 2-3h): The Evan Thomas cross-country ski trail in the Kananaskis is a fun trail for beginners and intermediates. Cross-country skiing out to Wedge Pond offers very pretty views. This trail is in the valley bottom, so make sure snow conditions are good.
  9. Mt Shark (13.8 km, 177 m, 2.5-4h): The network of XC trails at Mt. Shark offer everything from beginner to expert ski trails. The high elevation means great snow as well.
  10. Sandy McNabb (4.4 km, 91 m, 1-1.5h): The Sandy McNabb area near Turner Valley offers a wide range of cross-country ski trails, focusing mostly on intermediate and beginner trails. When the snow conditions are good, cross-country skiing at Sandy McNabb is great. Unfortunately, the warm Chinook winds mean that the season here is short.

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Best XC Ski Trails in Kananaskis Country

Open details for Goat Creek to Banff Springs

Goat Creek to Banff Springs

Hard
19.8 km
178 m
3-5h

Cross-country skiing from the Goat Creek parking lot above Canmore to the Banff Springs Hotel is a classic XC ski in the Canadian Rockies. This ski trail takes in some epic scenery. The first half of the route is infrequently track-set, while the trail improves markedly once you enter Banff National park.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.5
Technical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Canmore Nordic Centre

Canmore Nordic Centre

Easy
13.3 km
156 m
2-3h

We love to cross-country ski at Canmore Nordic Centre. The trails are usually in great condition and there are so many variants to explore, from beginner to expert. This is our favourite loop, which goes out on Meadowview and back on Banff Trail.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
8.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Ribbon Creek

Ribbon Creek

Moderate
11.3 km
288 m
1.5-3h

We love to ski at Ribbon Creek when conditions are good. This is some of the closest cross-country skiing to Calgary, and the trails are fun and usually kept in good condition.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.0
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Pocaterra

Pocaterra

Moderate
22.9 km
521 m
4-6h

The Pocaterra cross-country ski area in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park has some of the best snow in the Kananaskis region. While we have shared our favourite XC ski loop, there are plenty of easier loops to do in the area that are both shorter and with less elevation gain.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for West Bragg Creek

West Bragg Creek

Easy
9.2 km
152 m
1-2h

The West Bragg Creek cross-country ski trails are an outstanding network of XC ski trails a short drive from Calgary. There are trails for all abilities at West Bragg, and the higher elevation means their snow is typically far superior than that found in Calgary.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Elk Pass

Elk Pass

Hard
12.2 km
282 m
2-3h

The Elk Pass cross-country ski route is a popular ski route in the Kananaskis Lakes area. With a base elevation of 1,730 m, this usually means pretty nice snow, and is a favourite both early and late in the season.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Skogan Pass

Skogan Pass

Very Hard
19.0 km
682 m
3.5-5h

The trip up Skogan Pass is a classic XC Ski in Kananaskis. Starting at the Nakiska ski hill this cross-country trail is an uphill challenge all the way to Skogan Pass. The route down is fun, but can be challenging in icy conditions.

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No Reviews
Open details for Evan-Thomas & Wedge Pond

Evan-Thomas & Wedge Pond

Easy
10.6 km
103 m
2-3h

The Evan-Thomas cross-country ski trail offers wonderful XC skiing in Kananaskis. These trails are good for strong intermediates, and offer wonderful views. We love to extend the trail to Wedge Pond, a pretty pond at the far Southern end of this ski trail.

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No Reviews
Open details for Mt Shark

Mt Shark

Moderate
14.1 km
177 m
2.5-4h

Mount Shark is a great area for cross-country skiing, with trails ranging from beginner to expert. This is some of the best snow in the Canadian Rockies, and the variety of trails mean this is a great place to come and explore and work on your cross-country skiing.

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No Reviews
Open details for Sandy McNabb

Sandy McNabb

Very Easy
4.5 km
91 m
1-1.5h

Cross-country skiing in the Sandy McNabb area can be brilliant, though it is the area with the worst snow conditions. When there is good snow and recent grooming, the ski trails at Sandy McNabb offer cross-country skiers with a wide variety of skiing options.

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