A scenic winter landscape view of cross country skii trackers on top of a frozen lake covered in snow and surrounded by evergreen forest in the Kootenays

Cross-country Skiing in the Kootenays

The Kootenays and its lodges like New Denver Lodge are very fortunate indeed to have several former railway paths in the region that today are used for walking, cycling, snowshoeing, horseback riding and Nordic skiing. In the early days these rail lines connected mining towns in the West Kootenays. All train traffic ceased in region in 1989. A tremendous amount of work by Canadian and BC governmental and nonprofit community organizations has been invested in creating and maintaining these railway trails for recreational uses.

Hats off to the Slocan Valley Heritage Trail Society (SVHTS) for its efforts and dedication over years to develop, maintain, manage and promote a non-motorized recreational trail along the abandoned Slocan Valley spur of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in the West Kootenays. Likewise Trails BC and the Trans-Canada Trail Foundation that have been so committed and effective in developing and managing the region’s recreational trails. The BC government and its department of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) also deserve much appreciation for development, operation and maintenance of the Slocan Valley Rail Trail.

At the north end of the Slocan Valley Rail Trail (SVRT) lies the Village of Slocan on the shores of Slocan Lake. From New Denver it is only 18 miles and an easy half-hour drive along the lakeside to Slocan. From here you can access Valhalla Provincial Park trails and Slocan Lake Trails. Valhalla Provincial Park was created to protect the diverse topography, majestic peaks and unique vegetation of the Selkirk Mountains. Another very admirable community organization, the Valhalla Hills Nordic Ski Club promotes cross-country skiing in the North Slocan Valley. The Club grooms and maintains approximately 7 miles of trails in nearby Hills, BC.

Backcountry adventuring is plentiful in the Slocan Lakes area, from short walks to wilderness treks and mountain climbing, fishing and wildlife viewing, and also fantastic XC skiing choices. In addition to the SVRT, a gravel Forestry Service Road that runs between the Passmore and Slocan trailheads offers sideroad hikes and XC skiing into the Mulvey Basin and the Drinnon Lakes.

Guests of New Denver Lodge have many more terrific choices for XC skiing in the region. 35 miles east of New Denver, Kaslo is home to several great options for XC skiing including the Kaslo River Trail, True Blue Rec Area, the Airport Trails and areas around Mount Buchanan. Near Rossland, roughly 65 miles from New Denver, guests will find the Black Jack Ski Club, a few minutes north of town across from Red Mountain Ski Resort. Black Jack has about 25 miles of XC trails. It ranks as one of the premier XC ski facilities in western Canada. The RED ski area delivers thousands of acres of pristine skiing. Black Jack and RED both benefit from about 8m of annual (and reliable) snowfall. Roughly the same distance from New Denver, Nelson offers more than 12 miles of groomed trails to XC skiers from beginners to expert levels. And just 10 minutes east of Nelson, the Whitewater Ski Resort has XC ski trails with incredible mountain views.

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