Cross-Country Skiing in the Lakeland

If you live in Northern Alberta, you'll see a lot of winter. We can't change the weather, so we might as well embrace it by taking up a winter sport like cross-country skiing. Dubbed XC skiing by sport insiders, it's a great way to get some fresh air while achieving a full body, low impact workout. (Read more about the 'jaw-dropping' benefits here.) 

Founders of the Bonnyville Nordic Ski Club, Sarah and Les Parsons, share club info and where to go cross-country skiing in the Lakeland. Click the links for more information and maps. 

Free to public ski trails, which are groomed by local or provincial governments or private landowners:

Private ski trails, such as the ones below, charge a drop-in fee to help with maintenance and grooming costs.

Have you tried one of these trails? Share a photo and the conditions to social media and tag @bonnyvillenordicskiclub and @market826lakeland

About Bonnyville Nordic Ski Club

The Bonnyville Nordic Ski Club is a not-for-profit group with a goal to connect cross country skiers in the Lakeland area with each other and expand awareness of the vast trail systems in the region. We seek to enrich their ski experience by offering adult lessons, youth ski development programs, and community ski events. Our club is a partnership with the Lakeland Cross-Country Ski Club in St. Paul and other regional ski groups.

Participants in the first trail walk, October 2020

2020-2021 Club Membership

Annual membership fees go towards upkeep of a venue and trails, purchasing equipment and supplies, a future website, and mandatory insurance through Nordiq Canada ($23.10/person). Memberships are available through Fees for ski lessons and youth development program are extra.

Adult: $50 ($23.10 goes to Nordiq Canada)

Youth: $25 ($23.10 goes to Nordiq Canada)

Membership gives skiers the following benefits

Discounts on:

  • Ski rentals
  • Adult ski lessons and youth development program (ages 9-18)


  • Group ski tours to explore trails in the Lakeland
  • Potlucks, moonlight group skies, and other social events


  • Free wax clinics
  • Insurance through Nordiq Canada
  • ability to purchase ski equipment with club order

No private lessons or guided tours are offered outside club events. Lessons are open to non-members at an additional cost than that offered to members.


 Classic vs. Skate Cross-Country Skiing

There are two types of cross-country ski techniques: classic and skate. Classic skiing utilizes the diagonal stride technique in a groomed track with a back and forth motion. The skis for this technique have a kick zone in the middle of the base, which is where kick wax is applied, or, in the case of waxless skies, has fish scales or mohair hair patch. Pushing down on this area while striding grips the snow and allows the skier to propel themselves forward, even uphill. This segment of the ski shouldn’t touch the snow while gliding.

Skate skiing is just as it sounds – skating on snow. It uses a similar motion as skating, so ice skaters catch on quickly. Skate skiers go faster than classic skiers when on the same terrain, though it requires better cardiovascular fitness to go up hills using correct technique compared to classic skiing. Skate skis do not have a kick zone; the base is smooth like downhill skis and only requires glide wax. A skate motion rather than a downward kick propels skiers forward and up hills.

Pros and Cons of Classic Ski Options

Ski Types




Waxable skis

Kick zone requires kick wax application for grip on flat and hilly terrain.

Fastest ski, though only works in warm conditions with klister, a goopy soft kick wax.

Takes about 10 minutes to apply kick wax before every ski.

Waxless skis

Kick zone does not require grip/kick wax.

Time saving; good even in warm weather

May be slower on downhills.

Fish scales

Kick zone has protruding scales to grip snow.

Easy and durable

Slowest ski option; drags on downhills

Crown skis

Kick zone has imprinted scales to grip snow

Work in all weather and snow conditions, no drag.

May not work well in icy conditions; slightest drag on downhills.

Skin skis

Kick zone has mohair to grip snow.

Work in all weather and snow conditions, no drag. Works well even in icy conditions.

Mohair needs to be replaced every 2-3 years ($50-100); slight drag on downhill.


Common Nordic ski brands:

  • Fischer
  • Salomon
  • Madshus
  • Atomic
  • Rossignol


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