by Diana in besthealthmag.ca in December 2018
Top destinations in Canada for a wintery wilderness workout
Skoki Lodge, Alberta
Getting to Skoki Lodge, just outside the village of Lake Louise, involves cross-country skiing 11 kilometres over a mountain pass, through woods and across a frozen lake. (Admittedly, Prince William and Kate arrived here by helicopter for their honeymoon, along with a flush toilet, but I wouldn’t expect the same “royal treatment.”) Although this rustic escape offers no cell service, the food is gourmet and sleep well you will.
Stokely Creek Lodge, Ontario
Stokely Creek Lodge is a wilderness, Scandinavian-style lodge set on 12,000 acres of rugged Canadian Shield with trails that overlook Lake Superior. Despite what was once the preponderance of American guests, Canadians are catching on. The lodge has more than 100 kilometres of cross-country ski trails, two cedar saunas, rooms in a main lodge and eight separate cabins. A stay here includes: all meals and a trail pass. Stokely is only a half hour’s drive from Sault Ste. Marie, which is easily accessible on Porter Airlines.
Gatineau Park, Québec
With more than 200 kilometres of trails for classic country skiing and 53 kilometres of back country skiing, Gatineau Park boasts one of the largest networks of cross-country ski trails in North America. Check out the National Capital Commission’s interactive map for a list of recommended ski routes along with trail length and level of difficulty. But regardless of which trail you choose, expect to be out for at least half a day, and often on hilly terrain. The park has eight cabins for daytime use and tents, yurts and cabins if you want to sleep over. Or stay at the luxury boutique hotel (the O’Brien House), which is in the park, but privately owned, if you’re seeking more comfort after a long day in the hills.
Photo credit: National Capital Commission
SilverStar Mountain Resort, B.C.
SilverStar has 105 kilometres of trails, which is the largest daily groomed cross-country ski network in Canada. Check out their three-day or five-day XC Supercamps, from January to March, which attract skiers from all over North America. Camps include après ski wine and yoga, video analysis to assess your technique, evening camp socials and guest speakers. You can also do night skiing here with head lamps and lit trails.
Photo credit: Silver Star Mountain Resort
Gaspé Peninsula, Québec
If you are looking for white powdery snow, wide open spaces and a place to get unplugged, there’s no better place than the Chic-Chocs on the Gaspé Peninsula in the northern Appalachians. In the Parc national de la Gaspésie portion of the Chic-Chocs, you will find 23 kilometres of cross-country ski trails for intermediates and experts. Stay at one of the 17 backcountry huts in this snowy wilderness or book in at the four-star Gîte du Mont-Albert. You can reach the Parc national de la Gaspésie by flying to Mt. Joli to Montreal and then driving 2.5 hours.
Fundy National Park, New Brunswick
Venture into Fundy National Park for a true wilderness experience. The park has 25 kilometres of groomed trails, and three rustic cabins, five yurts and 10 oTENTniks that people can book online for overnight stays. The park also has a new four-season building at the trailhead with washrooms and showers, so you can come for a day touring experience and ski from hut to hut, or make a weekend of it. Fundy National Park is located about an hour’s drive from Moncton and St. John, between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Arrowhead Provincial Park, Ontario
Arrowhead Provincial Park’s 42 kilometres of groomed cross-country trails are considered some of the best in the province. Along with a 1.3 kilometre-skating rink winding through the forest, snowshoeing and a tubing hill, Arrowhead is a popular destination on weekends. But come mid-week, and you’ll find you can enjoy this white magic in relative quiet. And if you want to include your dog in the fun, Arrowhead has an 800-metre loop trail for skijoring. Arrowhead is only seven kilometres from Huntsville and close to Algonquin Park, which you also have access to with your Arrowhead permit.
Whitehorse Nordic Centre, Yukon
The hub of cross-country skiing in Whitehorse happens through their Nordic Centre, which operates 85 kilometres of trails for classic and skate skiing that are groomed at least once or twice a week. The Nordic Centre also rents equipment, including baby gliders for safe travelling with an infant. Visit Sunday afternoons from noon to 3:00 p.m. and enjoy a bonfire and free hot chocolate. Experienced skiers will be interested in the Yukon Ski Marathon that happens annually in Whitehorse; this year it’s on March 2nd.