Top Places to Cross-Country Ski Near Nelson, BC

Most skiers come to the Koots for the powder, but we also have some excellent cross-country trails. XC skiing is my main winter activity, because it is awesome exercise, relatively affordable, and involves the great outdoors. So where can you go to cross-country ski around Nelson? Read on…

Ski Clubs & Nordic Centres

These official spots offer groomed, track-set trails with warming huts.

Nelson Nordic Ski Club

Only 10 minutes from Nelson with excellent grooming, this is our main XC destination! There is a nice mix of trails, including a 1.3km illuminated night loop.

Whitewater Multi-Use Trails

The cross-country trails at Whitewater have been recently reduced to a single multi-use loop with snowshoers and the world’s happiest dogs. The loop can be a little more challenging, but has great views of Ymir Peak. Take in the Whitewater vibe and enjoy all the resort has to offer – including the pub!

Beaver Valley Ski Club

Running through Champion Lakes Provincial Park, Beaver Valley offers small but scenic trails. A great family spot – the beginner’s trail circles one of the small lakes.

Castlegar Nordic Ski Club

Also sometimes referred to as ‘Paulson Summit’ or  ‘Nancy Greene’, this is the largest XC trail network in the region. Castlegar Nordic hosts a mix of trails from beginner to advanced to backcountry, and opens up to picturesque views of the Monashee Mountains.

Black Jack Ski Club

Close to the Red Mountain Ski Resort, Black Jack offers plenty of amenities including ski rentals, a night loop, a kid’s terrain park, and even a doggy loop!

Unofficial Places

These spots are volunteer-tracked and might be sporadically maintained. But they are totally free!

Great Northern Rail Trail

The Great Northern Rail Trail runs from Nelson to Salmo. Parts of it join up with the trails at the Nelson Nordic Ski Club, but there are plenty of sections you can ski for free! Parking near Cottonwood Lake provides good access, but you can also reach this trail in Nelson by heading up to Mountain Station or Svoboda Road.

Slocan Valley Rail Trail

This 50km rail trail has multiple access points along Highway 6. But be strategic – ending up near Mama Sita’s Cafe or the Frog Peak Cafe is bound to be a good decision!

Balfour Golf Course

Some kind folks track the Balfour Golf Course in the winter, and this is a great spot to ski! Big views of the peaks across Kootenay Lake and the nearby Ainsworth Hotsprings!

Any others?

  • Did we miss any other spots? Leave us a comment below.
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5 years ago

Myself and a friend were thinking of taking 5 days and driving up from McCall Idaho to nordic ski in northern Washington. Thought maybe the Winthrop area. But then I thought your area, Castlegar/Nelson, is a similar distance and seems like a good variety of trails…maybe we’d go there?
Do you know of any other nordic skiing regions between my area and yours’ with good trails and a variety of lodging? ie. other than Mt Spokane?

And if we came up to your area is it quicker to come up thru Spokane or thru Coeur D Alene?


5 years ago
Reply to  bikeboatski

Hey there! I am not familiar with the nordic options below the border! It looks like the fastest route for you is via Spokane, but maybe you can find out which route has better ski options along the way. Have you checked out the Selkirk Loop? There is great info there about organizing a road trip around this area:

Good luck!

Alison Etter
Alison Etter
3 years ago

Hey Abby – Just saw this section on xc skiing. You might want to update the price for Apex. This year it was $14 and who knows what it might be next year. I miss xc skiing already and can’t wait for December! Thanks for doing this blog – I love it!

Abby Wilson
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Etter

Good point! I might just take out the prices so I don’t have to maintain that part of the site! Got links going to the nordic clubs so folks can see what the day pass options are! 🙂

1 year ago

To help the skate skiers plan a little more:
Skate skiing: the only recommended trails are at Blackjack (Rossland) and Nelson Nordic.

Castlegar Nordic (Paulson) is designed for Classic. Skating not recommended – too narrow and soft trails in most places, and skate skiing will destroy the track set and leave ruts. They only groom with a snowmobile, so if skaters leave ruts and then we have a thaw/freeze cycle, the ruts freeze and make it dangerous for people. So please bring your skis with a grip zone.

5 months ago

Hi! Any of these places allow dogs on leash for skijoring? Thanks!

Trip Date
Abby Wilson
5 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

Yes, the rail trails do as well as the Whitewater Multi-Use Trails. And both Nelson Nordic and Blackjack Ski Club have a small area for skiing with dogs. Last year, Nelson Nordic has a km from Cottonwood Lake and out along the rail grade tracked and free for the public, as well as open for dogs. Good luck!

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