XC Skiing in the West Kootenays

Fold the seat down or open up the roof rack for your cross-country ski gear; mild winter temperatures and over 100km of beautifully tracked Nordic trails await on a road trip to the Kootenays.

Start your journey in Rossland, home to the acclaimed Black Jack Ski Club. The high alpine setting means that the seasons are long and the conditions are solid. Over 40km of expertly groomed trails for classic and skate offer a mix of intimate forest and panoramic vistas. A lit night loop, terrain park for kids, biathlon range and a doggy loop provide plenty of additional options.

Over 20 different trails provides plenty of options to choose your own adventure loops. Challenge yourself to a 300 metre climb from the main base area to the trails surrounding the biathlon range or head for mellower and shorter routes with multiple connections. Either way, you’ll find a couple of cozy warming cabins on the trail. Guests can also rent gear on site.

Further up highway 3B is the Paulson XC Ski Trails, part of Castlegar Ski Club, with oodles of terrain. Most of the interconnected trails sit above 1300 metres and receive enough snow for skiing to often start in late November and last late into the season.

Whether you’re into a relaxed cross-country ski session through untouched snow or fast skate skiing on groomed trails, Castlegar offers something for everyone. There are countless free areas to explore in and around the city as well as perfectly maintained trails at multiple alpine resorts and those belonging to the Castlegar Nordic Ski Club.

Most of the network is rated as intermediate and features moderate to gentle grades with rolling terrain and changing landscapes. The Ben Shaw Trail is a cruisy beginner loop, with a shelter at the halfway point. A total of five shelters are spaced out over 40km of trails, providing convenient destinations to warm up and plan your next segment.

Arrow Slocan has three nordic areas and also groomed scenic trails that connect skiers with the remote nature beyond the track. No two spots are the same and with 78+km of trails to choose from there is more than one day of adventure to be found.

The Valhalla Hills Nordic ski area lets visitor glide along on a Club maintained trail network that has some challenging climbs and descents for the more experienced skiers, as well as some gentler loops for beginners. The 11 km of groomed trails are ideal for both skate and classic ski.

The Wensley Creek Ski Trails are maintained by the Arrow Lakes Cross Country Ski Club. The 8.2 km of groomed trails and warming hut are located about 5 km east of Nakusp off Highway 6. The Slocan Valley Rail Trail is 52 km of groomed, track set trail that follows the scenic Slocan River through nature reserves and past local cafes. The trail runs north-south with access from Highway 6 via seven trailheads. Informational signage about the area along the trail covers history, wildlife habitat, ecosystems and more.

Just ten minutes from Nelson at the turnoff to Whitewater Ski Resort is the Nelson Nordic Ski Club, featuring 30km of groomed beginner and intermediate trails. A series of short winding loops along the Salmo River and near the main shelter offers family-friendly skiing, including a night loop.

More adventurous skiers can challenge themselves to the Clearwater hill climb. Get the heart rate going on the uphill, then savour the speedy downhill all the way to the Busk parking lot. Three shelters are available at the club. If you don’t have gear head to Gerick’s Cycle and Ski in Nelson buy or rent skate or classic equipment.

An hour from Nelson is the scenic waterfront town of Kaslo, where a passion for winter runs deep. The local Kaslo Nordic Ski Club features 12km of groomed classic trails and two warming huts. Other cross-country ski options in the region include the Balfour Golf Course, Great Northern Rail Trail between Nelson and Salmo, and the hilly Nordic trails at Whitewater Ski Resort.

From leisurely loops to challenging climbs and full day outings, you’ll find all kinds of cross-country skiing options on a Kootenay road trip.

To learn more about cross-country skiing in the area visit the local tourism websites.


Enjoy the #WestKootRoute