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Workout of the Week: Backcountry Skiing to Increase Your Comfort on Skis!
By: Gavin Hamilton (2007/03/05)
Workout Type: Recovery
Exertion Level: Easy
Skier Level: Any
Technique: Classic
Season: Dryland
Terrain: Varied

Suggested Trails: 11, 17, 8, 3 and your other favourite backcountry trails.

Equipment: Not you're best equipment as there is danger that you might break something!


This is a workout which is not race preparation specific. It is a workout which is great for recovery after a hard week or weekend. It is also great for balance and increasing your comfort level on your skis. The ski can range from 1 hour (for recovery) to 3 hours, depending on how you feel and what is in your program.

Classic is the technique of choice for this workout because backcountry trails are not usually groomed and your skate skis would catch on the edges of the trail as you kick out. If you are not comfortable on really small narrow trails with trees lining the trails, you can work your way up to these ones by practicing on trails which are half way between parkway and backcountry trails in technicality. Ridge road (#1) and Burma (#3) are both a little more technical than parkway skiing and these can give you a sense for skiing sharper corners and steeper grades. Nakkertok also has many smaller trails you might consider skiing at either Nakkertok North or Nakkertok South.

Once you have mastered these trails, find a pair of tracks leading into the woods and follow them! If you are even more adventurous, you may cut your own trail but I wouldn't recommend this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is more work and not as much fun, and secondly, unless you are very familiar with the area you might come to cliff or steep downhills which could be dangerous.

If you find a particular section tricky, consider skiing it a few times until your comfortable with it. After that you might consider the CSM, NakkerLoppet, Thea's Race or the Viking Loppet which are all fun backcountry touring loppets.


Ed and I skied an exceptional loop last week and I will let you in on this ski to start you in the right direction in your backcountry skiing!

Firstly, we parked at P5 and climbed Penguin. Then we turned right at the top of Penguin onto the little backcountry Skyline trail. This has a couple of super-fun downhills and a great view as well.

Continue around this and make sure you keep left when the trail forks after the lookout. When you come to the intersection of three trails, take #22 or #34 which take you around the top of Camp Fortunes Downhill runs and the CBC tower. You will eventually run into CBC road (leads to the tower) if there's a lot of fresh snow you can sometimes ski (or telemark) down to the Chalet des Erables (CDE) on the road or parts of the Camp Fortune race course (which is rarely groomed) that parallels CBC road down to CDE. But you will likely want to take trail #4 down to CDE and the biathlon course. Trail #4 is the steep bumpy little trail that connects to Ridge, but it regularly groomed and safe.

There are two options at this point..

Long Option: If you would like another hour of skiing cross the road and go on the trail #32 that goes around Fortune Lake and out on to the Fortune Parkway. Then turn left and head up the hill about 500m to Burma. Turn right on to Burma (#3), and do it backward. This will take you to Ridge Road (#1) and then turn left on it and follow it all the way back down penguin to P5. You can add a loop around #1A/1B and #33/40/24/1 as you see fit.

Short Option: Instead of taking the trail #32 around Fortune Lake to the parkway, climb up trail #14 (Chicken Run) to Ridge Road (#1) or take trail #9 around the other side of Fortune Lake. There are a few choices on how to get back to Ridge Road from here; out on to the Fortune Parkway directly from #9, turn off #9 ski a short section of the Race Course to #11 out on the Fortune parkway or over to the Keogan cabin and up to Ridge. Once back on Ridge you can ski back down penguin to P5.

Hopefully these directions make sense - people tell me I'm bad at giving directions! Just in case, take plenty of food and water with you in case you happen to get lost. Here are a few maps and resources to help you as you explore the "off-parkway" Gatineau Park..



More Workout Suggestions . . .
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