cross country skiing and snowshoeing In alberta, Canada

The Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park (www.albertaparks.ca/canmore-nordic-centre.aspx; 403-678-2400) was developed for the 1988 Winter Olympics with 65 km of terrain groomed for both classic and skate skiing and there is illuminated night skiing. For a full page of info click Canmore Nordic Centre. Lessons and rental equipment are available at Trails Sports (www.trailsports.ab.ca; 403-678-6764). There're 20 km of trails covered with snowmaking and limited skiing is available in mid-October. The Daylodge has a large stone fireplace and room to relax with a cafeteria, lockers, showers and more. Beautiful views of Mount Rundle and more. Only 90 minutes from Calgary's airport.

There are some lovely, easy loops along the Bow River. Take Banff Avenue to the end of Spray Avenue, or turn left and cross the river. Trails wind through the whole area. Parks Canada puts out a very informative booklet on the extensive xc skiing and snowshoeing in Banff National Park; you can get a copy for a small fee at the Banff Information Center, 224 Banff Ave., 9 AM. to 5 PM.

Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course Clubhouse offers cross country ski and skate rentals, plus group and private lessons. Maps and information on trails are available at the Clubhouse.

Several sports shops rent snowshoes, ask your lodging concierge. White Mountain Adventures (403-678-4099) is just one of many guide outfits that offers naturalist-guided snowshoe treks, guided backcountry tours and cross-country skiing tours.

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (403-522-3511, www.fairmont.com) has about 50 km of groomed trails and access to hundreds of miles of backcountry trails, with stunning views of the lake and mountains. The ungroomed, well-marked trail to Skoki Lodge, a rustic log cabin (meaning no electricity, no plumbing, wood-burning stove), begins just above Temple Lodge at the ski area and heads up the valley and over Boulder Pass, 7 miles one way. If you're not up for skiing so far into the wilderness, follow the gentle Shoreline Trail starting in front of The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, an easy mile and a half one way. Skiing on Lake Louise is not recommended.

A complex 20 km of xc ski trail network called Pipestone Loops starts 4 miles west of the Lake Louise Over-pass on the Trans-Canada Highway. Although all are marked beginner, some are suitable for the intermediate.

About 25 miles from Lake Louise, just over the border into British Columbia, is Emerald Lake Lodge (403-343-6321 or 800-663-6336). It has a 40 km network of groomed trails with views of the Presidential Range, lodging in comfortable cabins and activities such as skating, snowshoeing and a games room. The lodge has a shuttle to the Lake Louise ski area.

Before setting out on any of the trails, check trail conditions at a park warden's office. Be aware that trail classification is done by healthy Canadians in good shape.