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Cross-country skiing this winter good for the heart and soul

Cross-country skiing is a popular pursuit in wintry Winnipeg and Manitoba.
RoseAnna Schick/RAS Creative

With the deluge of snow this winter, conditions are optimal to get out and ski. Whether you like whooshing down hills, or gliding across the countryside, there are plenty of options for both.

Here in Winnipeg, cross-country skiers are fortunate to have some of the best groomed trails in the province, and plenty of choices for winter wonderlands.

The Windsor Park Nordic Ski Centre at Windsor Park Golf Course is the crown jewel of urban outdoors. Managed and operated by the Cross Country Ski Association of Manitoba, it has a spacious clubhouse, food services, rental equipment, ski instruction, and waxing service. Nine kilometers of trails are groomed daily, seven days per week, for both classic and skate skiing. One of the most beautiful times to go is after dark, with trails lit for night skiing.

Other trails within Winnipeg include Harbour View Complex, with 3.4 kilometers of trail, skate and ski rentals, concessions, warm-up shelter, and available lessons. Assiniboine Park has eight kilometers of classic and skate trails that traverse past the Lyric Theatre, and a warm-up shelter at the Duck Pond. Kildonan Park & Golf Course has 8.9 kilometers of winding trail, while St. Vital Park’s 5.4 kilometers overlooks the Red River.

After all that training, test your fitness at the 12th annual Cross Quetico Lakes Tour in Atikokan, Ontario on March 16. Dubbed by explore magazine as one of the “coolest adventures in Canada,” the event involves classic or skate skiing along frozen northern canoe routes.

It’s not a race, but a unique wilderness tour offering three routes of varying distance (35km, 45km, 55km). Skiers arrive Friday night for a meet-and-greet and safety briefing. Saturday morning offers light breakfast before shuttling to trailheads, with fire and hot drinks available along the trail. It all winds up with supper and social that evening.

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