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Edmonton’s stunning river valley and North America’s largest urban parkland is just waiting to be explored, with over 150 km of fresh trails for cross-country skiing. Gina Loewen, a certified cross-country ski instructor takes us on tour of her favorite spots in Edmonton. Check out Gina's story and learn about her favourite trails and the different styles of skiing.
I grew up in Whitehorse, Yukon, where no one pretends winter is an inconvenience. If you move to the north, and stay there, you learn to play outside. There are lots of ways to do it but the best way is on cross-country skis. Nordic skiing is the hockey of the Yukon.
When I moved to Edmonton I expected it would be the same. The magnificent river valley trails were busy with runners and cyclists in the other three seasons, but in the winter the central valley was quiet. In the last few years, it’s all changed. I remember saying, not long ago, that I would be thrilled to look down from both sides of the High Level Bridge and see skiers. Well, I’m thrilled. We’re skiing at the Kinsmen Sports Centre, at Victoria Golf Course, and beyond—at Riverside and Hawrelak and Mayfair.
The best place for varied terrain and lots of kilometers is at Gold Bar Park. Most of us are recreational skiers. We like to turn off our phones and see the city from different angles. The great thing about Edmonton is you can be a few minutes from great food and drinks, theatre and music, and feel like you’re in the forest—on skis. We like to complain about the cold but it’s almost never too cold to ski, maybe one or two days a year.
You can be as competitive as you like—racers are genuine celebrities in Northern Europe—but the barriers to entry are low. If you can walk, dress warmly, and rent or buy some affordable equipment, you can ski. There are two styles, classic and skating, and most of us end up doing both. I’m biased, of course, but I would recommend lessons. There are simple techniques that can make skiing more efficient, more elegant, and more fun for everyone.
Try exploring some of these great cross-country ski routes in Edmonton:
Argyll / Mill Creek - 69 Ave & 88 St
Capilano Park - 10810 & 54 St
Gold Bar Park - 109 Ave & 50 St
Goldstick Park - 50 St & 109 Ave
Hermitage Park - 2115 Hermitage Road
Kinsmen Park - 91 Ave & 108 St
Riverside Golf Course - Rowland Road & 84 St
Rundle Park - 2909 113 Ave
Victoria Golf Course & Park- 116 St & River Valley Road
William Hawrelak Park - 9330 Groat Road