Cross-country skiing, also known as nordic skiing or x-country skiing, is becoming one of the more popular sports in Canada. This is because it’s relatively inexpensive to get into (gear is less than half the cost of downhill skiing), it’s a great way to get outside and enjoy wide open spaces whether on your own or with partners, and it can be done anywhere there’s snow.
One of the better places to go cross-country skiing is Castlegar. In fact, we would argue Castlegar has the best cross-country skiing in the Kootenays. 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.
5 Reasons Why Castlegar Has The Best Cross-Country Skiing in the Kootenays
Castlegar enjoys mild winter temperatures but lots of fluffy snow, it has numerous free areas in which to ski, as well as maintained, groomed trails, there’s an active Nordic Ski Club, and there are stores in town where you can find all the gear necessary for the cross-country skiing.
#1. Castlegar’s Weather is Perfect for Cross-Country Skiing
Unlike cross-country skiing hotspots (coldspots?) like Canmore and Banff, Castlegar enjoys lots of sun and mild winter temperatures that average -3°C. Those are the perfect numbers for enjoying cross-country skiing because you don’t have to wear excessive layers of clothing and, unlike coastal areas like Whistler, the snow stays dry. And there’s lots of the white stuff! In fact, upwards of two metres (six feet) of snow falls in Castlegar every year, meaning the base is deep and the season is long. Plus, the mild temperatures make it an excellent sport to enjoy with the whole family.
View this post on Instagram
#2. Castlegar Has a Popular and Active Nordic Ski Club
The Castlegar Nordic Ski Club has one of the largest memberships in the Kootenays and is one of the most active. Dedicated volunteers are responsible for 53 kilometres of interconnected trails on the Paulson Pass, 45 of which are groomed and maintained. They include easy, moderate and more challenging trails that boast multiple shelters and warming huts. Some trails skirt Nancy Greene Provincial Park while others take you past old growth management areas, alpine ridge lines and frozen lakes. The wider, groomed trails are suitable for skate skiing and, because the area is located at an elevation of 1,300 metres, it offers the longest season for nordic skiers in the region. For more about the Paulson ski trails and the Castlegar Nordic Ski Club, see our post “Where To Nordic Ski in Castlegar.”
#3. There Are Lots of Free Places to go Cross-Country Skiing in Castlegar
If you’d prefer not to pay a nominal day free or get a membership to the Castlegar Nordic Ski Club, not a problem because there are innumerable places in and around Castlegar in which to enjoy cross-country skiing. Any logging road leading up the forested mountainsides surrounding the city are fair game: they’re covered in snow, mellow enough to enjoy classic nordic skiing on both the up and down, and they offer some of the best views of the valleys and rivers. One of the best trails for its scenic offerings is the Columbia and Western Railway Trail, a converted rail line that runs from Castlegar to Christina Lake and is part of the Trans-Canada Trail. From it you have unimpeded views of Arrow Lake. Closer to downtown there’s cross-country skiing to be had at Millennium Park as well as the Castlegar Golf Course. And a short drive from Castlegar is the popular Slocan Valley Rail Trail, which winds its way from Slocan Lake towards the Kootenay River for 52 kilometres. For more about all the different areas in which to cross-country ski in Castlegar, read our article “Where To Nordic Ski in Castlegar.”
#4. Castlegar is at the Centre of the West Kootenay Ski Scene
Castlegar is equidistant from two skill hills, both of which offer groomed cross-country ski trails. Situated in the beautiful Columbia Valley, Castlegar is an easy 40-minute drive from Red Mountain Resort in Rossland and Whitewater Ski Resort, both of which were awarded best ski resorts in North America by Powder magazine. Although they’re famous for their downhill offerings, the two resorts also offer groomed and un-groomed cross-country ski and skate ski trails. For more info, visit our “Castlegar is at the Center of the West Kootenay Ski Scene” article.
#5. Castlegar Has Multiple Stores Where You Can Buy Cross-Country Ski Gear
The final reason why Castlegar has the best cross-country skiing in the Kootenays is because you can find all the gear you need for the sport right in town. Mallards Source for Sports on 18th St carries everything from skis and poles to wax and clothing. You can also find equipment at Canadian Tire on Columbia Ave.