Whistler is one of the best cross-country skiing places in British Columbia. We visited this beautiful mountain town numerous times over the years, and we love coming back, especially in the wintertime. The views from the trails are stunning, and there are so many other things to do in Whistler besides skiing.
Whistler is home to over 160 kilometres of XC trails, and there are plenty of options for the inexperienced and experienced alike. Cross-country skiing is an easy sport to learn for all ages and fitness levels. If you do not have your skis, rentals and lessons are available.
Check out the trails at Lost Lake in the heart of Whistler Village, just steps from the hotel. Or venture to the Whistler Olympic Park and discover the old-growth forests of the beautiful Callaghan Valley, just a short drive south of Whistler. Ski Callaghan offers over 40 kilometres of dedicated dog-friendly ski and snowshoe trails, with the largest off-leash area in the Sea to Sky Corridor!
You will find Olympic-level trails, novice trails, scenic lookouts, picnic shelters, and challenging climbs deep into the coastal forest inside the park. Multiple venues offer cross-country skiing, biathlon, snowshoeing and night skiing. A typical season runs from December to late March.
Callaghan Country is the home of North America’s longest continuous Nordic hill climb and one of the world’s steepest descents. Athletes come here to challenge themselves and cross-train on some of the most challenging terrains.
Whistler Olympic Park hosted Nordic competitions at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Cross-Country Skiing at the Whistler Olympic Park
There is no shortage of cross-country exploration at Whistler Olympic Park. With access to almost 90 kilometres of trails groomed for both classic and skate skiing. In mid-winter on Wednesdays, you can ski under the stars with a network of night skiing trails.
The trails range from green (easy), blue (intermediate), and black (advanced). You can explore trails through old-growth forests and dreamy meadows, discover scenic views of the surrounding mountains and work your way up to the different viewpoints.
The park has a full-service Day Lodge with a cafe, retail and rental shop and ski school.
Callaghan Valley Cross-Country Ski Map
Callaghan Valley is home to Whistler Olympic Park and Callaghan Country. Your daily admission will allow access to both areas; some trails intersect between the two locations. To view a detailed cross-country ski trail map, click here.
Olympic Park Cross-Country Ski Trails
Whether it is your first time or you are an avid skier, the Olympic Park has trails suitable for all abilities. Our favourites are Around the World and Top of the World, because of their beautiful scenery. Both are green (easy) trails and can be accomplished by almost everyone.
You can view and download the map ahead of time. You can also ask for a hard copy of the trail map when you arrive. It is available at the ticket office and the lodge. We recommend checking conditions before your visit for open trails and services.
Beginner / Intermediate Trails
The Neverland trail that leaves right from the Day Lodge is an easy trail to start on. It follows flat and forgiving terrain for about 4 km. The trail leads through the Cross Country Stadium used in the Olympic Games, and you will find sport-related interpretive signage and multiple Olympic photo ops.
If you are a little more advanced and feel comfortable with moderate up- and downhills, the Madeley Creek trail will take you through a beautiful west coast forest. You can also take the Around the World or ski up the Top of the World trail!
Intermediate / Advanced Trails
More experienced skiers can explore the trail network around the Biathlon Range and the Cross Country Stadium for some serious climbing and fun descents. Those are the same trails that Olympic athletes used to win their medals in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
If you are looking for serenity in old-growth forests, great views, rolling climbs, and descents check out the Mountain View, Norwegian Wood’s, Keith’s Challenge, and Loon Lake Loop trails.
Are you bringing your dog along for the ride? Whistler Olympic Park has thirty kilometres of dog-friendly trails so that you can both get exercise while skiing. Some of the courses we recommend are The Porter’s Glide, Brandywine View and Around the World trails.
On Wednesday nights, skiing with your dog is possible on the regular dog-friendly trails. These trails are not lit, and you will need to bring a headlamp. It is also highly recommended that you attach a safety light to your dog’s collar so that they stay visible to you and other skiers at all times.
Biathlon at the Whistler Olympic Park
Would you like to try skiing and shooting a 0.22-calibre Russian rifle in one day? If this sounds like your kind of adventure, you should try the biathlon experience at the Whistler Olympic Park. No experience is required, and lessons are available.
The sport has a rich history rooted in Scandinavia, home of the Norse gods Ullr and Skadi, who rule over winter and mountains. Ullr is iconic in ski towns across North America, inspiring ski and snowboard top sheets, gear names, festivals and competitions.
Norway and Sweden were first to adopt skiing and shooting in the 1800s as part of their military training, setting the foundation for the modern-day sport. Biathlon officially became an Olympic sport for men in 1960, and women were finally allowed in 1990.
Trail Conditions at the Whistler Olympic Park
During the winter season, you can find a detailed grooming report on the Whistler Sport Legacies website and the Nordic Pulse website. We recommend checking the conditions for updates on available terrain before you go. The information is updated in real-time as the grooming team works through trials.
Weather at the Whistler Olympic Park
Check the current weather conditions and forecast at the park before your trip so you can dress appropriately. Whistler can get very cold; we experienced temperatures of minus 18 Celsius (felt like minus 28 Celsius) while skiing and snowshoeing in the Olympic Park.
Whistler Olympic Park’s webcams are also a good source for up-to-date information on the weather in Whistler. The live stream cameras show different views from various vantage points within the venue.
Winter Dates and Hours of Operation – Whistler Olympic Park
The winter dates of operation are from November 26, 2021, to April 3, 2022. Every Wednesday from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm (December 15, 2021 – March 9, 2022), you can ski under the stars and discover the magic of Whistler Olympic Park (subject to change, weather-dependent).
Hours: Weekdays 9 am – 4:30 pm, Weekends 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Wednesday Evenings 3 – 9 pm (December 15, 2021 – March 9, 2022)*
*Please note that all dates, pricing, hours, and trail availabilities are snow and weather dependent and subject to change. Please confirm with Whistler Olympic Park at 1.604.964.0059.
Tickets and Passes for the Whistler Olympic Park
Whistler Olympic Park and Callaghan Country offer a joined pass to both areas, creating a combination of over 120km of groomed cross-country ski and snowshoe trails for all levels. Season Passes provide the best value if you plan to visit many times during the winter season.
Day admission for Nordic skiing and Backcountry skiing is $29.50 for adults, $15.75 for youth, $15 – $29.50 for seniors (weekdays are cheaper), and children have free entry. The cost to bring your dog is $6.75. You can purchase the tickets when you arrive at the park gate.
The Olympic Park Day Lodge
The Olympic Park Day Lodge is located just up the stairs from Parking Lot 1 and 2, and it has everything you need during a winter day outside at the park. The amenities include a rental shop, snow school, retail shop, cafe, outdoor deck, washrooms, change rooms and ski patrol.
After hours of skiing, you can warm up with a cup of delicious hot chocolate inside the fully-licensed café, located on the upper level. It provides plenty of delightful dine-in or to-go options as well.
The menu includes locally-inspired favourite meals, drinks and treats. You will also find various options if you are vegetarian, gluten-free or vegan. The cafe is open daily throughout the winter season.
Whistler Olympic Park Ski Shop and Rentals
The Whistler Olympic Park rental shop (located on the lower level of the Day Lodge) provides everything you need for a great snow day or evening adventure. Rentals can be reserved online (reservations are mandatory for Wednesday Nights).
Ski rentals include both classic and skate ski equipment. Other items available for rent are chariots for toddlers, snowshoes, sleds and helmets.
The retail shop carries a variety of sportswear from top brands like Kari Traa, Swix, Dæhlie, Majola, Ryders, Julbo, Bliz, Toko and Vauhti. Inside the store, you can also find wax for your skis, sunscreen, souvenirs, etc.
Lessons and Camps at the Whistler Olympic Park
Lessons are a great way to learn the techniques before taking off. At the Whistler Olympic Park, you can take a private or small group lesson and improve your skill with one of their friendly instructors.
The snow school offers classic or skate skiing and biathlon instructions, sessions for children and youth, adult clinics and camps, or private technique tune-ups for advanced skiers. Introductory lessons are around one and a half hours long and teach the fundamentals of cross-country skiing.
Driving Directions to Whistler Olympic Park
Whistler Olympic Park is located around 30 minutes south of Whistler Village and 30 minutes north of Squamish in the Callaghan Valley. Free parking is available on site.
The best way to reach Whistler Olympic Park is by car, shuttle or taxi from Whistler, which is the closest town to the Callaghan Valley. If you do not have a car, we suggest renting one in Vancouver. Both Rental Cars and Discover Cars are excellent sites for finding a good deal.
Take Hwy 99 and turn onto the Callaghan Valley Rd. The turn-off is 110 km north of downtown Vancouver, 44 km north of downtown Squamish, and 14 km south of Whistler Village. Drive for around 21 km on the Callaghan Valley Road. Take the second access gate; the first gate is the Callaghan Country.
The Callaghan Country is famous for its winter storms and abundant snowfalls; this is what makes skiing there so incredible. But it can also create difficult driving conditions on Highway 99.
We recommend checking the highway conditions on the DriveBC website before driving. Ensure your vehicle has good winter tires. It might also be helpful to carry snow chains and a shovel whenever driving in winter weather. We had to use chains on a few occasions when driving in BC.
Parking at the Whistler Olympic Park
Free parking is available at the Whistler Olympic Park. There is a special parking lot for those with dogs just before the Day Lodge. Shortly after you enter Whistler Olympic Park’s main gate, you will find the two dog-friendly parking areas to your right and left.
Both lots provide trail-side parking. Make sure to keep your dog leashed while in the parking lot. Dogs are not allowed in the Day Lodge, in the stadiums and on non-dog-friendly trails. Dogs must be on a leash at all times, except on off-leash trails. There is no access to dog-friendly trails from the Day Lodge.
Cross-Country Skiing at the Callaghan Country
Just before you reach the Whistler Olympic Park, you will notice a large red sign that points you left into the Alexander Falls Touring Centre, which is the home to Callaghan Country. The area shares a pass with the Whistler Olympic Park, as many of the trails interconnect.
Experience the charm of winter inside the park while Nordic skiing, ski touring or snowshoeing. If you feel adventurous, you can try the ungroomed wilderness routes.
Onsite services include equipment rentals, shop, ski lessons, and washrooms. Warming hut and bonfire are part of the rustic experience of Callaghan Country.
If you do not have cross-country skis and need transportation from Vancouver, we recommend booking a cross-country ski tour. It includes a pick-up and drop-off right at your doorstep and ski equipment rental.
Are you up for a challenge? You can ski out to the authentic high elevation backcountry lodge for lunch and return. You can also stay overnight, but plan ahead of time as it books up fast!
The Journeyman Lodge is located 14 kilometres from the nearest paved road. As you glide your way to the lodge, you can enjoy the tranquillity of a majestic old-growth forest.
Callaghan Country Cross-Country Ski Trails
Within the Ski Callaghan area, Callaghan Country offers 47 kilometres of groomed ski trails designed for classic technique, light Nordic ski touring and approximately 15 kilometres of wilderness snowshoe routes.
All trails start from the Alexander Falls Touring Centre. Callaghan Country is the wild side of the Ski Callaghan experience; slightly informal and built with the intent to reconnect you to the natural world.
The area boasts over 7000 hectares of wilderness, from majestic old-growth forests and stunning peaks to flat plateaus and steep climbs.
We recommend checking conditions before your visit for available trails and services. To get a hard copy of the trail map, ask for one at the ticket office when you arrive. You can also view and download the map ahead of time.
Beginner / Intermediate Trails
An easy trail for a start is the Real Life trail, which is 4.5 kilometres one-way and takes between 70 minutes to 3 hours to finish. It is also a dog-friendly trail, and you can take your pup with you!
If you want to do something more challenging, take the Mainline trail, which is 8.5 kilometres one way and takes between 2 to 6 hours to finish.
Intermediate / Advanced Trails
If you are more experienced and are up for a challenge, take the Wild Spirit trail and continue to Upper Wild Spirit and Morningstar trails, all the way to Journeyman Lodge. The distance is around 13 kilometres one way.
You can also make a loop and take the Mainline trail, continue onto Parkway and head back onto the Wild Spirit and Real Life trails. The distance is 18.8 kilometres out and back.
Are you bringing your dog along for the ride? Callaghan Country provides access to over 30 kilometres of dog-friendly trails, all accessible from the Alexander Falls Ski Touring Centre. If you take the Real Life trail or the wilderness routes, you can have your dog off-leash.
Other dog-friendly trails are the Mainline trail, Parkway and the Wild Spirit trail, but you should keep your dog on a leash.
Wilderness / Backcountry Trails
The Callaghan Country has more than 30 kilometres of wilderness routes that are ungroomed. We did not try any of them. The Figer Lakes trail is 4.3 kilometres one-way and can take 2 to 5 hours.
To reach Into the Woods trail, Morning Glory, Telemagique and other wilderness trails, you need to take the Mainline trail first. You can view the map here.
At the Alexander Falls Ski Touring Centre, you can also inquire about the Callaghan Lake snow shuttle servicing access to Solitude Valley, Telemagique Lake, and Morning Glory.
Note that wilderness ski touring skills, including travel, navigational, terrain, weather and avalanche assessment knowledge, are required on these trails. There is no ski patrol, and you will be responsible for any cost of rescue service.
Ski up early to a rustic alpine Journeyman Lodge, the birthplace of the valley’s legendary skiing, and enjoy lunch before you return to Alexander Falls Touring Centre. The food is fantastic, and the staff will do everything to make you feel welcome and comfortable.
You can also spend the night at the lodge. Make sure to book ahead of time because the lodge books up fast! They will take all of your gear in for you.
The views along the trails to the lodge and the views from the lodge itself are amazing. After your journey, you can enjoy a Finnish-style sauna right above a small flowing creek.
The Trail to Journeyman Lodge
To get to the Journeyman Lodge from the base of Alexander Falls, take the Real Life and Wild Spirit trails, then continue to Upper Wild Spirit, Morningstar and the Meadows Loop trails. The distance is around 12.5 kilometres one way.
The other option is to take the Mainline Trail, then head up the Parkway, Upper Wild Spirit, Morningstar and Meadows Loop. The distance is around 13.8 kilometres. Both ways, the elevation gain is about 560 meters.
It takes an average recreational skier between 3 – 4 hours to ski to the lodge. Elite skiers can skate up in about an hour. Getting back to the Alexander Falls Touring Centre takes about half as long because it is almost all downhill.
If you prefer to save your energy for the upper valley trail system, the staff at the Callaghan Country can arrange to transport you to the lodge by snowmobile. Helicopter service from Whistler is also available.
It takes about 45 minutes by snowmobile to reach the lodge. By helicopter, flights leave from Whistler’s municipal helipad and take about 12 – 15 minutes.
Trail Conditions and Weather at the Callaghan Country
We recommend checking the current trail conditions for updates on available terrain before you go. You can find a detailed grooming report and snow and weather info on the Callaghan Country website during the winter season. The information is updated every day.
The Callaghan Country is famous for its winter storms and abundant snowfalls; make sure to dress appropriately. At times the temperatures in Whistler go down to minus 20 Celsius. To view a full week forecast, visit the YR website.
Winter Dates and Hours of Operation – Callaghan Country
The winter dates of operation are from December 4, 2021, to mid-April 2022.
Hours: Monday & Tuesday 9 am – 4:30 pm, Wednesday & Thursday Closed, Friday 9 am – 4:30 pm, Saturday & Sunday 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.
*Please note that all dates, hours, and trail availabilities are snow and weather dependent and subject to change. Please confirm with Callaghan Country before arrival at 1.604.938.0616.
Tickets and Passes for the Callaghan Country
One daily admission will allow access to Whistler Olympic Park and Callaghan Country and over 120km of trails to explore by ski or snowshoe! You can purchase the tickets at the Ski Callaghan admission gate when you arrive. They sell season passes and day tickets.
Day admission for Nordic skiing and Backcountry skiing is $29.50 for adults, $15.75 for youth, $15 – $29.50 for seniors (weekdays are cheaper), and children have free entry. The cost to bring your dog is $6.75.
Callaghan Country Ski Shop and Rentals
The Callaghan Country ski and rental shop are conveniently located at the Alexander Falls Ski Touring Centre. Here you will also find an Adventure Desk to book overnight accommodation, snow shuttles, or lunch at the Journeyman Lodge in the alpine.
If you do not have your equipment, you can rent everything from nordic skiing and snowshoeing to ski touring and overnight excursions in the Callaghan. The knowledgeable staff at the rental shop will help you rent, demo, or purchase gear for your winter adventure.
Callaghan Country ski shop carries Salomon clothing, gloves, Atlas snowshoes, various waxing options, alpine touring gear and supplies, icebreaker layers, North Face accessories, snacks, beverages, and more.
Facilities and Services at the Callaghan Country
Enjoy a quick coffee from a Double Decker Coffee Roasting, parked onsite. It serves delicious coffee out of a red double-decker bus. After your skiing or snowshoeing adventure you can warm up inside a cozy warming hut.
Callaghan Country offers inclusive overnight ski-in/ski-out packages that include: meals and non-alcoholic drinks, overnight accommodation, luggage transport, lodge snowshoes, sleds and a Scandinavian sauna.
Driving Directions to Callaghan Country
The Callaghan Valley Road is plowed all winter long. Make sure that your vehicle has good winter tires, and if you need extra confidence, carry chains.
Take Hwy 99 and turn onto the Callaghan Valley Rd. The turn-off is 110 km north of downtown Vancouver, 44 km north of downtown Squamish, and 14 km south of Whistler Village.
The Alexander Falls Touring Centre is located 8.5 kilometres up Callaghan Valley Road. On the left side of the road, you will see a big red sign for ‘Ski Callaghan,’ turn left here. Soon you will come to an admission gate, where you can purchase a ticket. The parking at the Callaghan Country is free.
Overnight Parking at the Callaghan Country
If you are planning a trip to the Journeyman Lodge, parking is available at the designated area near Alexander Falls Ski Touring Centre. You will need to check in first.
If you are not registered at Journeyman Lodge and plan to remain in the backcountry past 4:30 pm, you should park at the Alexander Falls Recreation site, south of the admission booths.
Unregistered cars remaining in Ski Callaghan parking lots past 4:30 pm will be cause for a possible RCMP missing person notification. You will, unfortunately, be charged the staff costs incurred in resolving the overdue issue before releasing your vehicle.
Cross-Country Skiing at the Lost Lake Park
The Lost Lake is located a short distance from the Whistler Village (a few minutes walk from day lots 4 & 5). The park features more than twenty-five kilometres of pristinely groomed cross country trails for both classic and skate techniques.
Come and explore the park’s beauty while enjoying the fantastic views of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Lost Lake also offers 15 kilometres of snowshoe trails. Dogs are not allowed at Lost Lake Park in the winter months but are permitted on the free multi-use trails.
You can experience the magic of night in the evenings while skiing 4-kilometre loops around the Lost Lake. The trail is lit for night skiing. If you get tired, cold or hungry, you can stop at the warming hut to enjoy snacks. Make sure to pack some in your bag.
Lost Lake Cross-Country Ski Map
On the map, you can view most of the cross-country ski trails inside the Lost Lake Park. To see a detailed cross-country ski trail map, click here.
Lost Lake Cross-Country Ski Trails
Whether you are just learning, getting out for fun or fitness, or are an advanced skier, there is a trail for you at Lost Lake Park. The course is groomed daily for classic and skate techniques.
All the adventures start at the Lost Lake PassivHaus, where you can purchase tickets, rent equipment or take lessons.
There are so many trails we recommend having a trail map with you, even though the trails are well marked with signs and maps. You will find a hard copy at the Lost Lake PassivHaus. To view or download the Lost Lake Nordic Trails map, click here.
An easy trail, to begin with, is the Lost Lake Loop, which is 4 kilometres and is lit at night until 8 pm. It starts from the main area, the Lost Lake PassivHaus.
You can also try the Nicklaus North Golf Course, which is 4 kilometres long. You will need to park your car at the Nicklaus North Parking lot and start from there.
If you are more experienced, take one of the blue trails around the Lake. The Lost Lake Trail North is a gentle intermediate two-way trail. Middle and Lower Panorama are also popular, winding through a cedar and fir forest.
The Centennial Trail and the Upper Panorama Trail will get your heart pumping, with steep hills and descents if you are up for a challenge. The Upper Panorama offers some great views.
We decided to go up to the Chateau Golf Course because we were told it offers some of the best views in the park. The Middle and Upper Fairways offer open vistas with advanced climbs and descents.
The Polers Climb is an uphill trail with sustained climbing, and the Polers Descent is a steep, thrilling descent trail rewinding to Fairways Connector.
Trail Conditions and Weather at the Lost Lake Park
We recommend checking the current trail conditions for updates on available terrain before you go. During the winter season, you can find a detailed grooming report and snow and weather report here.
The Resort Municipality does trail grooming each night or early morning and creates a new report daily.
Lost Lake Park’s webcams are also a good source for up-to-date information on the weather in Whistler. The webcam view is from PassivHaus and is updated every few minutes during daylight hours.
Winter Dates and Hours of Operation – Lost Lake Park
The winter dates of operation are from December 15, 2021, to mid-March 2022. Daily Hours are 8 am – 8 pm (except holidays), night skiing is from 3 pm – 8 pm*.
Holiday hours: New Year’s Eve 8 am – 5 pm, New Year’s Day 10 am – 8 pm.*Please note that dates, hours, and trail availabilities are snow and weather dependent and subject to change. Please confirm with Cross Country Connection at 1.604.905.0071.
Tickets and Passes for the Lost Lake
Day admission for Nordic skiing is $23 for adults, $13.75 for youth, $11.50 for children and $46 for a family. The tickets for the Nicklaus North are cheaper. You can also save by buying five or ten tickets.
The night skiing is $11.50 for adults, $7 for youth, $5.75 for children and $23 for family. Night skiing starts at 3 pm.
If you plan to stay for a while in Whisler, you can buy a winter season pass and enjoy unlimited cross country skiing all winter long. The earlier you buy, the more you will save. You can also purchase a dual area pass, which includes access to both Lost Lake and Ski Callaghan.
You can purchase the tickets at the PassiveHaus when you arrive. To buy a season pass, visit the official Whistler website.
PassiveHaus Day Lodge
The PassiveHaus lodge is located just a short walk from Whistler Village. You can get there by foot by walking along the path by Fitzsimmons Creek. If you are driving, you can park close by at Lot 5.
The amenities include a rental shop, lessons, cafe and washrooms. There is also a warming hut located next to the Lost Lake trail.
Lost Lake PassivHaus was built for the 2010 Winter Olympics when it served as the home of the Austrian team. It was constructed to showcase modern building standards using state-of-the-art energy efficiency systems and methods.
The Connection Cafe
Connection Cafe is located at Lost Lake’s PassiveHaus, next to the rental shop. It serves gourmet coffee, homemade soups, grilled sandwiches, energy bars, fresh cookies (baked daily) and other healthy meals to keep you fueled for your adventure.
Their coffee is organic and locally roasted by Pemberton Valley Coffee Company. Other flavoursome drinks available are organic Matcha and Chai tea.
Lost Lake Rentals at PassiveHaus
Can you not bring your gear with you, or do you not have your own? That’s no problem! The rental shop at the PassivHaus has a wide range of options for both classic and skate skiing and snowshoeing. They also have children’s sizes and chariots for young children.
If you book a lesson, your rental equipment and trail fees will be included.
Lessons at the Lost Lake Park
Nordic skiing is an excellent winter activity for all ages. You can take a lesson and learn the technique or improve your abilities before you take off. The experts at Cross Country Connection can teach you the skills required for both skate and classic skiing. The lessons are taught by certified Cansi instructors.
All package prices also include a trail pass and unlimited use of gear and trails that day. Lessons are 75 minutes long and start at 10 am at the trailhead of Lost Lake Park, besides Lost Lake PassivHaus. To guarantee space, you should book in advance. You can fill out an online booking form, and they will get back to you with confirmation.
Directions to Lost Lake Park
The PassiveHaus Entrance is the main area for accessing the Lost Lake Park (Parking Lots 5 or 4). To get to Nicklaus North Entrance, park at the Nicklaus North Golf Course Parking (daytime use only).
PassiveHaus By Foot
Lost Lake Park is a short walk from all locations in the Whistler Village. Follow the pedestrian signs for Lost Lake Park and PassivHaus off Lorimer Road. You can also use the free Village Shuttle and get dropped off at Day Lot 4.
PassiveHaus By Car
Lost Lake Park is located around 127 km from Vancouver, 62 km from Squamish and 34 km from Pemberton. Take Hwy 99 and turn onto Lorimer Road. Park in the Lot 5 or 4. Walk to PassivHaus.
Cross-Country Skiing on the Valley Trail
In winter, approximately four kilometres of the Valley Trail from Rainbow Park to Meadow Park are groomed for cross country skiing and snowshoeing about four times a week. There is no trail fee. You can bring your dog with you, but he should be on a leash.
Additional sections of the Valley Trail that are groomed for cross country skiing include: From Fitzsimmons Trail to PassivHaus and Riverside Campground at Mons Road along Green Lake at Nicklaus North to Alpine Way.
Tips for Cross Country Skiing
The sport of cross-country skiing is enjoying a renaissance for all sorts of reasons. It is easily accessible to beginners, and the cost of gear and the trail fees are more affordable when compared to downhill skiing.
Types of Cross-Country Skiing
Did you know the Nordic sport of cross-country skiing originated in Scandinavia thousands of years ago and was introduced to Canada only in the late 1800s?
Classic style cross-country skiing is an old, traditional discipline of Nordic skiing. It is easily recognizable by the diagonal stride technique used, which makes it look like you are walking on skis.
Skate skiing is a more recent cross-country discipline that took off in the 1980s. The skating technique is similar to ice skating. It is often used by cyclists, runners and other athletes as a winter training alternative.
What Is the Difference Between Cross-Country (XC) Skiing and Nordic Skiing?
There is no difference. Nordic skiing derives from the region where it originated and is simply another word for cross-country skiing. Shorthand for cross-country is XC.
How Should I Get Started?
The easiest way to get into cross country skiing is by taking a lesson. You can hire a private instructor for an hour or join a group lesson at Callaghan Country or Lost Lake Park. After only one class, you can be up and gliding across a pristine winter landscape on your own.
If you are starting, you should start with the classic technique first. Skating technique is much more difficult and takes a longer time to master. Some of the things you need to learn are shifting your weight correctly and coordinating your arm and leg movements.
When you are ready to go out, start on green trails. Avoid blue or black trails at first because you will be more likely to fall. Once you get more comfortable with going up and down the hills, then try blue trails.
What Should I Wear?
Cross-country skiing is a highly aerobic activity that can generate a lot of body heat. Your clothing needs to protect you from the elements while allowing sweat to move away from your body, so you do not overheat.
We recommend wearing multiple lightweight layers of clothing for warmth and versatility, creating the most insulation. You can add or remove layers as needed. Instead of wearing one bulky heavyweight layer, wear two lightweight layers. Dress in non-cotton layers that are comfortable and wick sweat.
The base layer is the first layer of clothing worn closest to your skin. It should be made of wool or synthetic material that dries quickly and moves sweat away from your body, so you do not get cold. Our favourite is the Merino wool base layer, which regulates your body temperature.
Next, you will want a middle layer to keep you warm, such as a fleece or a cozy wool top. For an outer layer, wear a jacket that is water-resistant, windproof and breathable.
What Should I Bring?
Bring extra layers of clothing. If your clothes get wet from too much sweat or rain, you will appreciate having extra dry clothing in your backpack. If you plan on staying out longer, you can also bring some hand warmers.
Stay hydrated and bring enough water. We usually carry a small thermos with warm water; otherwise, our water would freeze during cold temperatures. Energy or protein bars will help to give your body the refuelling you need after skiing for a few hours.
Tips for Cross Country Skiing With Your Dog
Start with short and easy trips to see how your dog responds; running on snow is physically demanding. Then gradually increase the duration and intensity. We have seen a few dogs running on trails inside the Whistler Olympic Park, and they loved it!
Cold weather may affect some dogs more than others. Dog booties can help protect their paws, and a light dog coat will be helpful if you know your dog gets cold quickly.
While out on the trails, check your pup’s paws regularly for snow and ice that can get stuck and build up, which causes chafing and freezing. It is good to keep your dog’s nails cut short and trim the fur between the toes slightly.
Precautions for Cross-Country Skiers
Did you know that cross country skiing is one of the safest outdoor winter sports? All Nordic ski/binding systems have free heels and hinges at the toe, so falls are less likely to cause injuries.
If you fall, avoid sticking out your poles or wrists because that increases your chance of injury or damage to your gear. Rolling sideways is generally a good tactic if you have enough control to do so.
Avoid high-risk avalanche areas. Going to ski resorts minimizes this concern. If you plan to ski other terrains, take an avalanche course first.
Where to Stay in Whistler
Whistler has many beautiful lodges, hotels, and resorts to make you cozy and comfortable. We recommend booking your accommodation months in advance to make sure you get one of the best hotels. Here are a few of our recommendations:
- Four Seasons Resort Whistler: Located in Whistler’s Upper Village. The resort offers a complimentary shuttle to Whistler Village and Whistler Mountain during the ski season. Besides comfy accommodation, you can enjoy a hot tub, heated outdoor pool and a spa. The rooms are gorgeous, and the staff is exceptionally nice and accommodating. >>See prices and availability for Four Seasons Resort
- Sundial Hotel: Excellent Location; the Sundial Hotel is situated just a one-minute walk away from Whistler Blackcomb Gondola and right at the base of the Whistler Bike Park. It features a rooftop hot tub, gas fireplace and a full kitchen in all suites. The bathrooms have heated slate flooring and soaker bathtubs. >>See prices and availability for Sundial Hotel
- Pangea Pod Hotel: Conveniently located in the heart of Whistler and within 200 m of the Whistler and Blackcomb gondolas. There is a common ski and bike storage area. The pods have good soundproofing, but you might need earplugs if a loud snorer is next to your pod. The Pangea Pod Hotel is an excellent choice if you are travelling alone. >>See prices and availability for Pangea Pod Hotel
Plan Your Trip to Whistler
- Travel Insurance: Do not forget travel insurance! Protect yourself from possible injury, theft or a cancelled trip. World Nomads offers excellent coverage and competitive rates.
- Accommodation: Our favourite hotel search engine is Booking.com. They offer savings on hotels, apartments, resorts and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide.
- Experiences: Make your trip memorable and try out a new activity. You can find some of the best tours at Get Your Guide and Viator.
- Car Rentals: Rental Cars and Discover Cars are excellent sites for comparing car prices and finding great deals.
- Flights: Skyscanner is our favourite search engine for finding the best deals on airline tickets.
Read More Travel Guides
We hope you enjoyed our guide on cross-country skiing in Whistler. Let us know in the comments below. Here are a few of our favourite articles to inspire your travels around the Sea to Sky region.
- 40 Epic Things to Do in Whistler
- Alexander Falls – Everything You Need to Know
- Beautiful St.Mark’s Summit Hike
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