Ah, winter in Calgary – cold and snowy. Perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Unless it’s not, of course, because the only thing that’s sure in this city is the capricious nature of our winter weather, and most of us love the comparatively balmy Chinook winds! Whether or not we get much snow in the city, however, we live next door to the Canadian Rockies, one of the world’s most famous natural playgrounds.
This winter, don’t just hibernate and hide indoors until spring (as tempting as that may be), but head outside and make the most of the season. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are fun activities the whole family and any skill level can enjoy, and there are many places in and around Calgary to enjoy the great winter outdoors. You might even get lucky with lots of fresh snow AND one of those gorgeous chinook winds that make Calgarians so proud. Plus, just think of how great curling up by the fire will feel afterwards!
Great Places to Snowshoe and Cross-Country Ski In & Around Calgary
Check ahead as COVID-19 has affected some of these locations.
Find an expanse of snow or park, and you have a great place to snowshoe and ski! The going may be a little rough in some areas that are popular with dog-walkers, hikers, and winter cyclists but many places in Calgary have specifically groomed trails for cross-country skiers. Often maintained by ski clubs, some of the city’s golf courses are track set by a machine, especially for skiers. Shaganappi, Confederation, and Maple Ridge golf courses all offer this service. South Glenmore and Canmore Parks also track set trails.
Snowshoeing is a fun, affordable winter activity, as it is easy to do at any local park. In addition to places already mentioned, check out Bowness, Edworthy, and North Glenmore Parks for ungroomed areas, or head to Fish Creek Provincial Park or Weaselhead Natural Environment Park. Nose Hill Park is another option to check out, with great views of downtown.
Visit the City of Calgary’s website for more information about their cross-country ski and snowshoe trails.
Bow Habitat Station, in southeast Calgary, offers snowshoeing right where they are located, on the Pearce Estate Park’s Interpretive Wetlands. They even offer snowshoe rentals. This is a fabulous way to try out snowshoeing, right at home, without making a huge time commitment or having to purchase equipment. (Please note: Bow Habitat Station is closed due to COVID, including rentals.)
Visit the Bow Habitat Station’s website for more information about their snowshoeing options.
For a particularly invigorating snowshoeing excursion, check out the Signature Snowshoe Experience at Sunshine Village. Indulge in spectacular views and an exhilarating adventure that starts with a ride up the chairlift and leads you over untouched powder.
Visit the Sunshine Village website for more information about their snowshoeing experience.
The Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area, just southwest of Calgary, is 4800 acres of natural area, set aside for the protection of wildlife habitat and conservation education. While cross-country skiing is not allowed here, due to its impact on the land, snowshoeing is welcome, and you may even see some of the many species that call this area home.
Visit the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation website for more information about their snowshoeing trails.
The Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park is an easy drive from Calgary and offers as many winter fun activities as you can handle! Trail use fees are in effect here. There are more than 65 kms of groomed, machine-made, and natural trails and 6.5 kms of the trail is illuminated for those long winter evenings. A beautiful meadow, located in the middle of the trail system, is easily accessible for all levels and offers spectacular views of Canmore, the Bow Valley and the surrounding Rocky Mountains.
Snowshoeing on the groomed ski trails here is not permitted, but the Canmore Nordic Centre has a dedicated snowshoe loop, about 3 km long.
Visit the Canmore Nordic Centre’s website for more information about their cross-country ski and snowshoe trails.
There are many beautiful trails in the Kananaskis Country, for either snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. More than 85 kms of groomed cross-country ski trails exist in the Kananaskis Lakes area, as well as 30 kms in the Smith-Dorrien Trails System. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is a popular destination for those wanting to make a day of skiing, and they have specific snowshoeing trails, as well.
Visit the Kananaskis Country website for more information about their cross-country ski and snowshoe trails.
West Bragg Creek boasts 141 kms of trails, with trails dedicated to cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. The ski trails are groomed explicitly for cross-country, providing a quality Nordic ski experience, while there are nearly 40 kms of all-season trails that are open for snow-shoers to use.
Visit the West Bragg Creek website for more information about their cross-country ski and snowshoe trails.
So, what are you waiting for? These are some of the many locations where you can enjoy winter activities, and you might find the perfect spot in your own neighbourhood! Not having gear is no excuse, as there are places in Calgary that will rent equipment if you’re not yet convinced.
Give cross-country skiing or snowshoeing a try, and you might discover that winter is not so bad, after all! The crisp, fresh air, the snow sparkling in the sunshine, and the utter stillness that comes when you’re quiet in the woods can restore your well-being, all while you get moving and take care of your body. If nothing else, it might be just the thing to help burn all that energy the kids have!