Crimson Lake

The 10K Amerada trail at Crimson Lake. Groomed Dec 13, 2019. Photo by Eric

This blog post will be of more interest to my readers who live north of Calgary. 

We received a couple Groomer’s Reports from Eric at Crimson Lake provincial park. I had never heard of this place before, so I asked Eric to send some additional information and photos. 

“There is a 10km loop around Crimson Lake called Amerada Trail, this trail is groomed but not track-set as I have found that maintaining the track-set has become futile. Needless to say it is a fun loop to do on skis and many locals in Rocky frequently ski the trail.

Crimson Lake. Photo by Eric

Our track-set system varies year to year depending on work being done in the campground loops and staff availability. This year our track-set system in unfortunately short around 4km and encompasses the Wolf Track, North Woods, and Fallen Timber Trails.

Users are welcome to cross-country ski on Crimson Lake itself, but this is an activity that is not encouraged or endorsed by Alberta Parks. There are no formal trails on the lake and there will never be.”

There are other groomed cross-country trails in the vicinity, so you could do a tour and check them all out. We already know about Sundre, Bearberry, and Red Deer. Eric sent along the following info on a couple other areas:

“Near to Crimson Lake Provincial Park is an area called Pony Club, I am unsure who is maintaining those trails as the guy who volunteered to do it has since retired and no longer lives locally. Pony Club is a 5.7km loop trail just north of the Twin Lake Parking Lot. Users need to be aware the road into Twin Lake is not  frequently plowed.

Further south of there is the home of the Rocky Mountain House Cross Country Ski Club. I am not familiar with what they do, they have trails at the Pine Hills Golf Club. They have a public facebook page ‘Rocky Mountain House Cross Country Ski Club’.”

Top 10 places to ski this weekend in the “Empire”


Skogan Pass. Photo taken today, Dec 13, by Steve Riggs

How did Steve get the above photo without the power lines being visible? Read Steve’s trip report to discover how he avoided the Screamer’s thin snow while descending.

Dec 13, 2019 

Hello, all you lucky skiers within the SkierBob realm. 

Elk Pass

Fox Creek and Moraine in PLPP were groomed today. The loop known as the “SkierBob Special” should be a popular choice. The 18K loop consists of Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Fox Creek and Moraine. 

We have over 300K of groomed trails to choose from. Going from East to West:

  1. Strathmore Golf Course  
  2. Confederation golf course in Calgary
  3. Shaganappi golf course in Calgary
  4. Priddis golf course
  5. West Bragg Creek
  6. Sandy McNabb
  7. Kananaskis: Bill Milne, Wedge Connector; Skogan Pass
  8. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
  9. Mt Shark
  10. Canmore Nordic Centre
  11. Cascade Valley
  12. Redearth Creek
  13. Nipika Mountain Resort
  14. Lake Louise
  15. Kicking Horse river in Yoho
  16. Dawn Mountain in Golden, BC

Well, that makes it a “Top 16,” so much the better, but stay tuned, there may be more by Saturday morning. 

Let’s all be thankful it isn’t Dec 15, 2018 when I posted this: “With a lack of other venues available for skiing, the Canmore Nordic Centre was incredibly busy today.”

More tracksetting news, mostly good

Watridge Lake road at Mt Shark. Photo from Feb 2016

Update Dec 13: Mount Shark…

“Watridge Lake trail was groomed and trackset from the upper parking/trailhead to the Spray river all remaining trails were machine groomed only.”

The grooming at Mt Shark includes the 15K Green trail.

Dec 12, 2019

In addition to tracksetting news, Helen Read’s group saw a Lynx at the Lake O’Hara parking lot. They also had the good luck to see a pine marten while on the trail. You can read about Helen’s adventure on the trip reports. 


Skogan Pass between the Screamer and Sunburst junctions. Photo from Feb 2019

Skogan Pass and Skogan Loop have been trackset…

“Dec 12 Good to excellent skiing conditions on the Skogan system trails above Marmot Junction with track setting in most places and 50 plus cms settled snow higher up. Fair conditions below Marmot with hazards and thin spots existing on Skogan Screamer”

Skogan loop. Photo from Nov 2015

Experience tells me the hazards and thin spots on the Screamer will be no problem going up, but you won’t be able to go full speed on the way back down. The Screamer is 1K in distance with 100 metres of net elevation. It’s the section above the Ruthie’s-Hidden junction. 

When conditions are good, descending the Screamer is the most fun you can have on skis, but we’ll have to wait for more snow. It may be prudent to walk occasionally when descending the Screamer on thin snow. 

Access to Skogan Pass is from Ribbon Creek via Hidden, Nakiska via Hidden, or Hay Meadow and Ruthie’s. 

The Canmore Nordic Centre trail report shows the man-made snow on Banff Loop is now completely trackset and continues further to the meadow. The natural snow on the main trails Bow, Banff, and Meadowview has been groomed but not trackset. 

Lynx on Redearth Creek in Banff National Park. Photo by Chuck from Jan 29, 2017

Redearth Creek

I inquired with Parks Canada about the grooming only going 7K on Redearth Creek, rather than 11.5K which would take it near the warden’s cabin…

“The campground is as far as Don could groom in one day. He will return to Redearth Creek when his schedule allows, and do the section beyond the campground.”

Lake Louise

First tracksetting has occurred on Peyto and Upper Telemark. The Heritage Guides remarked about the tracksetting: “Good condition, with lots of twigs!”

The Lower Telemark was trackset two days ago. Jeannie skied it yesterday and gave it a good review. 

Nipika Mountain Resort’s first trail report of the season…

“All of the south trails have been packed and groomed for both skate and classic. The north trails have been packed and groomed to the bridge. Conditions are early season, so please watch for rocks and grass.”

Pipestone trails at Lake Louise

I also inquired with Parks Canada regarding when the Pipestone trails will be open again…

“Mid-January. Construction activity for the new LL Water Reservoir. Area will remain closed till then.”

Beautiful Bow River Loop

Bow River loop

Dec 11, 2019 (Click on the photos for a larger image)

Helen and Kazzy didn’t exaggerate or overstate anything yesterday in their glowing reports of the Bow River loop in Lake Louise. I can’t imagine how conditions could be any better. The snow, the tracksetting, the weather were all wonderful. Continue reading

Kicking Horse in Yoho

Kicking Horse trail at 1.5K

Good early-season conditions exist on the Kicking Horse trail in Yoho. Excellent tracksetting with a few twigs here and there. There were a couple places where I stepped out of the tracks for ten metres to avoid twigs where they were thick. For the most part, I skied over them. Continue reading

Upper Bankhead and Cascade Valley

Upper Bankhead

The conditions at Upper Bankhead and Cascade Valley are wonderful. At the end of the day, Pat and I were able to go down the big hill with no fear and no snowplowing, so you know it’s good. 

The temperature at 1:20 pm at the Lake Minnewanka parking lot was -7°C and I would guess the snow was about the same. It was a blue wax Continue reading

Sunday night update

The Strathmore golf course has been roller-packed. See video at the bottom of this update. 

The list of places where I can ski is growing faster than I can keep up with. What an excellent early season this is shaping up to be.  Continue reading

Snowfall update

Dec 8 @ 2:30 pm: Update from Groomer Jeff at West Bragg Creek:

“Remarkably we got more snow in West Bragg Saturday night! 5-7 cm has been groomed and track set on a number of trails. Heavy skier volume has interrupted grooming which will commence again tonight. Expect soft, slow conditions as the snow has not had a chance to consolidate. That being said it is a gorgeous weekend for a ski with dozens of kilometres of trail groomed.” Continue reading