If you've ever been curious about cross-country skiing, for the first time since grade school or the first time ever, Saskatoon has you covered. There are trails throughout the city suitable for all skill levels. You can even rent skis for the day at Eb's Source for Adventure if you're not quite sold enough on the sport yet. But the best part is that cross-country skiing is simply an intrinsic joy — there's just something to it. Give it a try and see for yourself.
Now, I'm not an avid cross-country skier, but I have a pair of working legs and some used skis I got from a garage sale for fifteen bucks. I suppose you could say it doesn't take long to get my money's worth. But I love cross-country skiing, if not for the fresh air and exercise, then for something else. It's more fun than jogging, which leaves my fitness ambitions a little too open to public judgment. On the other hand, it's not a sport known for its jaw-dropping intensity. The best cross-country skiing has to offer is subtle, like the whisper-quiet glissando of skis running down a freshly groomed track, or the momentary daydreams of gliding on snow so fine, you'd swear it was cream cheese to put it romantically.
Fortunately for me, my first time skiing in Saskatoon was following a snowfall after a rather dry December. I found a couple of public golf courses had both skate and classic groomed trails, and randomly picked Wildwood Golf Course as my first stop.
Wildwood is one of several trails maintained by the Saskatoon Nordic Ski Club, who in addition to hosting events such as the Saskatoon Skate and Classic Loppet, offer a slew of programs including youth and adult ski lessons. They also have a handy list with trail updates, maps and details to get you started.
Wildwood ski trails
While the parking lot gave me the impression the trails would be busy, there was plenty of space to make for a pleasant jaunt without feeling rushed. Wildwood would make a good choice if you're looking to get your skiing legs back, or if you have an hour or so to spare and need some fresh air and exercise. Beginners will appreciate the gentle grades as there are few spots where you're likely to fly off track or tumble into a water hazard.
My second stop was at Holiday Park, another trail maintained by the Saskatoon Nordic Ski Club. By the time I got there, the sun was beginning to set and there were few other people to run into. I enjoyed my time here quite a bit. There were enough trails and off-shoots to feel like I had some choice in the length and direction I was headed. I could almost have used a headlamp by the time I finished.
Holiday Park ski trails
I've skied extensively at Duck Mountain Provincial Park, about four hours away, but I had never considered it might be an activity I would enjoy closer to home. With the door open now, I'm looking forward to checking out the forested, more 'topographically challenging' Eb's Trails near Duck Lake, about an hour north of Saskatoon.
There's no better way to get fresh air and exercise in winter without breaking the bank. If you haven't gone cross-country skiing in Saskatoon yet, try it out and find the trails that are right for you.
For more information on trails in Saskatoon check out the Saskatoon Nordic Ski Club website!