Monday, January 11, 2016

Cross Country Skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre

Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park is an amazing winter playground! Originally built for the 1988 Winter Olympics, the park boasts a 70 km network of world class ski trails (groomed for classic and skate skiing), fatbiking trails, snowshoe trail, disc golf course, orienteering course, biathlon range, outdoor ice rink, and tobogganing hill.

Canmore Nordic Centre
I am ashamed to admit I had never been to the Nordic Centre before because I didn't want to pay the ski trail fees and didn't know what advantages the Nordic Centre had over free groomed trails in Kananaskis. The first thing I noticed was the gorgeous view!  Perched above Canmore on the side of Mount Rundle, there are fantastic views of the surrounding peaks from the Day Lodge. Next, I was impressed at the quality of grooming. While the Kananaskis trails are very well maintained in general, the Canmore Nordic Centre has consistent conditions throughout the park due to snowmaking (on 20 km's of trails) and more frequent grooming. Other noteworthy features of the park follow:

Amenities

The Day Lodge has flush toilets and showers, lockers, an information desk, and concession! I love the cozy seating by the fireplace! There are also meeting rooms and private ski wax rooms to rent. If you need a rest stop or restroom along Banff Trail, there is the newly constructed Meadow Warming Hut 2.6 kms from the Day Lodge.

Trail Sports, just across from the Day Lodge, has equipment rentals and lessons.

Sunset at Canmore Nordic Centre Day Lodge

Family Friendly

Banff Trail is a 5.5 km green trail that is perfect for kids or beginners. It's wide and double track set in both directions so you can ski alongside your child if it isn't too busy, or tow a younger child in a Chariot. 2.6 km down the trail is the Meadow Warming Hut and outhouse, which makes a nice destination for new little skiers. Pop in for a hot chocolate break, then head back to the Day Lodge, or do the whole trail for a nice 11 km ski.

On our visit, I skied part of Banff Trail and Banff Loop with my 6 year old. Although it was Christmas vacation, the trail didn't feel overly busy as there are so many tracks and trails!

Big POG on Banff Trail, Canmore Nordic Centre

Skate Skiing

Skate skiers rejoice! All trails are groomed for classic as well as skate skiing! With few places available to skate ski, the Canmore Nordic Centre is one of the best options around for skate skiers. My husband loves skate skiing here. 

Night Skiing

Night skiing is available on 6.5 kilometres of well lit trails from 5 pm - 9 pm. My husband made use of this both nights we stayed in Canmore. Be sure to bring bear spray as cougars do not hibernate. It helps to bring a friend too!

Early Season Skiing

Frozen Thunder, a 1-2 km frozen ski track, opens in late October each year to give skiers a head start on the season. It's made from snow stored from the previous ski season and is one of few such tracks in the world. It is reserved for ski teams in the mornings and open to the public (for a fee) in the afternoons. Note that admission to Frozen Thunder is not included in a Season's Pass.

Value

While you have to go a dozen times for an adult season's pass to pay for itself, a family pass pays for itself much sooner. For our family (2 adults, 6 yr old, 4 yr old), we would only have to go 8 times for a pass to pay for itself. If you're a frequent skier, a season's pass is the most economical way to go.

Cross Country Skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre

FAQs

  1. Do I need to pay admission fees for all activities? No. At time of writing, there are only trail fees for skiing and the biathlon range (biathlon range pass). The ice rink, toboggan hill, snowshoe trail, fatbiking on designated trails, and disc golf course are free. Please note that biking or snowshoeing are not permitted on ski trails.

  2. Are there washrooms onsite? Yes, there are washrooms and showers at the daylodge and there is an outhouse at Meadow Warming Hut on Banff Trail, 2.6 km from the daylodge. 

  3. Are equipment rentals available? Yes. See TrailSports (across from the Day Lodge) ski, Chariot, skate, and fatbike rentals. Call ahead and reserve gear to avoid disappointment.

  4. Is the Canmore Nordic Centre open in summer? Yes, the Canmore Nordic Centre is open year round! Come summer, the park is a great place to hike, trail run, mountain bike (trails and skills park)!, roller ski, play disc golf, or practice orienteering. Best of all, there are no fees to use the park during the summer!  
The big snow piles and tobogganing hill provide hours of fun for little ones!
We had such a great day, I can't wait to go back! Stay tuned to hear about my fatbiking adventure at the Canmore Nordic Centre! 

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