Cross-country skiing, also known as nordic skiing or x-country skiing, is becoming one of the more popular sports in Canada because of its ease of entry and the low-cost of equipment. Not to mention we enjoy four months or more of snow here in the Great White North.

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. Plus, there are stores in town where you can find all the gear necessary for the cross-country skiing. Below are five main reasons why Castlegar has the best cross-country skiing in the Kootenays.

Why Castlegar Has the Best Cross-Country Skiing in the Kootenays

There’s an Active Nordic Ski Club in Castlegar

The Castlegar Nordic Ski Club has one of the largest memberships in the Kootenays and its responsible for 53 kilometres of interconnected trails on the Paulson Pass ranging from easy to challenging. Forty-five of them are groomed and maintained and there are multiple shelters and warming huts strewn throughout. A season membership or nominally priced day pass is required to ski the trails.

There Are Lots of Free Places to go Cross-Country Skiing in Castlegar

If you’d prefer not to fork over any money for your nordic ski experience, no problem because there are innumerable logging roads, trails, golf courses and open spaces where you can roam. One of the best trails for its scenic offerings is the Columbia and Western Railway Trail, 162-kilometre-long converted rail line that offers beautiful views of Arrow Lake and the Valhalla mountains. For more ideas, check out our article “Where To Nordic Ski in Castlegar.” “Where To Nordic Ski in Castlegar.

Castlegar Enjoys Excellent Weather for Cross-Country Skiing

The trails of the Castlegar Nordic Ski Club are located at 1,300 metres and so the season is one of the longest in the region. Elsewhere, Castlegar enjoys lots of sun and mild winter temperatures that average -3°C, which is perfect 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.

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: it’s an easy 40-minute drive to Red Mountain Resort in Rossland as well as to Whitewater Ski Resort near Nelson. The two resorts offer groomed and un-groomed cross-country ski and skate ski trails. For more info, read our aritcle “Castlegar is at the Center of the West Kootenay Ski Scene.”

There Are Multiple Places Where You Can Buy Cross-Country Ski Gear

No matter what you need in terms of nordic gear, you can find it in Castlegar. 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.

Where to Après-ski in Castlegar After Cross-Country Skiing

There are plenty of excellent eateries in Castlegar including such family-run establishments as the Grateful Table and Taste of India. For a list of all the restaurants we recommend, read our article “14 Best Dinner Restaurants in Castlegar.” But as anyone who’s spent a day cross-country skiing will tell you, the things you crave afterwards tend to be comfort food and cold beer.

With that in mind, the first place we’d recommend you enjoy your après-ski experience is the Lion’s Head Smoke and Brew Pub. Co-owner Troy Pyett says the two main selling features of his restaurant are “familiarity and comfort,” which is exactly what you look forward to after a day cross-country skiing. With hearty fare that includes meat smoked on site and that largest craft beer menu in the city, The Lion’s Head is a must-go after your day in the snow.

  • Lion’s Head Pub: 2629 Broadwater Rd, Robson
  • Phone: 250-365-2739
  • Website:

Another excellent après-ski spot is the Black Rooster Bar and Grill, conveniently located just off the highway. From the poutine bowl to the Canadian Eh burger, this eatery takes comfort food seriously and you can wash it all down with $5 draft sleeves.

If you’re short for time and only want to grab a quick pint, then Tailout Brewery is the spot. Opened in late 2019, the city’s craft brewery offers a spacious, open setting and delicious pints and if you’re hungry, the owners are totally fine with you ordering in from another establishment.

  • Tailout Brewing: Unit A, 1810-8th Avenue, Castlegar
  • Phone: 250-608-9056