The snowfall last weekend has created excellent ski conditions in the Edmonton area. There are a number of cross country ski options in and around Edmonton. Our usual haunts are Goldbar Park, The Strathcona Wilderness Centre and Waskehegan Staging Area. There are a number of other ski trails in other parts of the city. West of Edmonton is Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area (http://www.parklandcounty.com/Recreation/Parks_and_Natural_Areas/Chickakoo_Lake_Recreation_Area.htm )
Goldbar Park, one of a number of city trails ( http://www.edmonton.ca/attractions_recreation/sport_recreation/crosscountry-skiing.aspx ), is great for both beginners and intermediate/expert skiers. Grooming is done for both classic and skate skiing. Flat outer and inner loops circle the lake and for beginners, it provides nice terrain to practice technique. There are also a number of trails up in the hills to the south of the lake which are hilly and provide an excellent workout. There is a warming building with washrooms and a place to change and leave some gear. As with all public places, do not leave any valuables. We leave our jackets, boots and clothes to change into, but we would not cry if this gear was stolen.
The Strathcona Wilderness Centre ( http://www.strathcona.ca/departments/Recreation_Parks_and_Culture/Recreation_Centres/strathcona-wilderness-centre.aspx) is located east of Edmonton in the County of Strathcona. It is about a 30 minute drive from the outskirts of the city. The trails are groomed for classic and skate. The trail system is more extensive than Goldbar and the terrain is varied. Knowing how to handle hills is a must as there are two rather steep hills. When we want a longer ski, we go the the Wilderness Centre. The conditions of the trails are excellent (as long as there is snow!) as they are groomed daily and the crew there is diligent and particular.
The Waskehegan Staging Area, part of the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, (http://www.albertaparks.ca/siteinformation.aspx?id=23 ) is a little further down the road from the Wilderness Centre. Grooming is primarily for classic, but there are skate lanes on some trails. Check the website for more info. We generally ski here once or twice a year and make a day of it with a picnic. The annual Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival is held here and this year it was a grand success (http://www.canadianbirkie.com/). Skiers from all over the world attend this festival.
With the recent snow, the ski season is once again alive. We will be skiing our favorite haunts on Sunday mornings! Come join us!