Life in Calgary is all about seizing the moment; or, at least that’s what this Calgary-transplant has learned and is now truly embracing! When there is snow and it is not toddler-tantrum-inducing cold out, you go cross country skiing in Calgary. Every. Single. Day.
The Triple Crown
Thus, without further adieu, I bring you the Triple Crown of Calgary: Cross-country skiing the three major city greenspaces with track-setting within three days! Super fun, awesome, and highly recommended. Just do it. Chances are you have one of these parks within a 5-20 minute drive from your house, which is seriously low-commitment for getting out and teaching your young kids to cross-country ski (or getting yourself out for a headlamp lit rip around). No long drive to the mountains to only turn around half an hour later with tears from all. One park is even accessible by c-train, in case you are car-light or -free. (The other two are accessible by bus.)
Shaganappi Point Golf Course
Shaganappi is a good spot to ski and there is some great beginner terrain. There are also some more challenging hills, including a super fun trail with a bridge that is not suitable for every skier. So, head left if you are looking for easy!
The best thing about Shaganappi, in my opinion, is that it is very central and accessible by c-train, doable even with young kids as it’s only a 2 block walk from the station (not easy, but doable!). The view of downtown is also excellent.
The worst thing about this location is that it can get very sun- and wind-affected: bad for the snow and bad for you, sometimes, too! The main area with easier, kid-friendly terrain has immature landscaping and thus no real wind block. So, we stay away from here on windy days!
Maple Ridge Golf Course
Mapleridge is an excellent course for kids, especially beginners. There is just one large loop set, but there seem to always be several skier set tracks that cut back to the gate where you start and end your ski.
It is typically groomed on Tuesdays (as per the City’s website); we were there Wednesday and it was being roller packed as we arrived, then tracksuit shortly after (I suspect they were a day behind schedule because of the holiday Monday).
While you can hear the hum of Deerfoot at points in the park, it is generally pretty easy to forget about the noise pollution and to instead relish in the beautiful poplars and spruce trees that are abundant in this mature greenspace. While it is a golf course so is inherently relatively open in design, it is much less exposed than Shaganappi with respect to wind.
Confederation Golf Course/Canmore Park
And, last but not least: Confed. Today was my first visit to this park to ski and it was pretty amazing.
There are lots of trails of various length and difficulty and there is tonnes of beginner-friendly terrain (although much of it is accessed by going down a hill first, but you can always walk). We did not make it over to the west side of 19th St. to check out Canmore Park’s trails, but suffice to say, you could have a very good ski in this Calgary greenspace with the wide expanse of terrain on offer between the two areas (which are separated by 19th St. NW).
The grooming was wearing thin on one route that we did, but it was tip-top in the centre of the trail system (you can check out their grooming report here). This greenspace is likely your best bet for reliable cross-country skiing within city limits if you are looking for groomed and trackset options.
We are ever so fortunate to have many maintained cross-country circuits within our city limits (plus, there are ungroomed options, too). There are more than these three big ones! We even have snow-making equipment at a few! However, cross-country skiing this side of the Rockies can be unreliable due to the wildly fluctuating temperatures that we experience as a result of a meteorological phenomenon, the Chinook, due to our geography. Combined with the fact that we live at a high and dry altitude, we rarely have enough snow to consistently ski in town all winter long.
If you want to bring your pooch, stay away from the golf course options (no dogs allowed) and know that they must be on leash, etc. (Or, head to West Bragg!)
Parenting on skis
While cross-country skiing with kids is not a marathon in the true sense of the sport, like with loppets, it is a parenting marathon of mother-hen-ing, collecting your little chicks all over the pitch and herding everyone forward with much good cheer (and Hallowe’en candy, if you’re smart). Relish the fatigue afterwards and rejoice when your kids fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow.
So, get out there and enjoy it while you can. It’s gorgeous right now for cross-country skiing in Calgary!
I’m exhausted and going to bed (but planning on heading to West Bragg tomorrow and possibly the Nordic Centre this weekend if I can still move!
Check out these other other posts for ideas!
- How I Keep My Kids Warm
- Guide on Where to Cross Country Ski in Calgary by Play Outside Guide
- Cross Country Skiing with Kids – 5 Ways to Make it FUN! by Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies