Cross-Country Skiing 101

Published Date: January 6, 2015

Cross-country skiing is one of winter’s most versatile sports. You can choose between a cardio-blasting skate ski at Hepworth’s Sawmill Ski Trails, a peaceful backcountry experience at Kolapore Uplands or a family-friendly groomed ski at Scenic Caves Nordic. Whatever your ideal experience, Grey County has the scenery, landscape and snow to make it happen.

To get started, you’ll need a set of cross country skis, poles, boots and winter clothing. It’s a good idea to pack a trail map, some snacks, water and even a thermos with a warm drink. You’ll likely want your camera too, as cross-country skiing allows you to access plenty of beautiful wilderness—areas that few people get to see in their snow-laden glory.

Before you head out, it’s important to know and respect the winter trail etiquette. While some areas are suitable for both cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, it’s important not to snowshoe on groomed cross-country ski tracks. Local clubs are mainly volunteer-based and maintenance of these groomed tracks is hard work. Snowshoeing over track-set trails ruins them for skiers and even snowshoeing immediately beside the trail compromises where skiers pole plant. It’s best to stay well offside groomed trails and the nice thing about snowshoes is that you can easily go off-piste.

Popular Grey County Trails:

Be sure to check our Winter Activity Map for the latest updates on winter access, parking and other guidelines.

Scenic Caves Nature Adventures Nordic Centre
If you need to rent equipment, the Nordic Centre at Scenic Caves Nature Adventures is a great place to start. With 22 kilometres of groomed beginner and intermediate cross-country ski and snowshoe trails, Scenic Cavies rents both skis and snowshoes. They also have a rustic chalet to warm up in, change rooms and a ski waxing facility.

The Sawmill Nordic Centre
Hepworth’s Sawmill Nordic Centre is another hub for beginner and young skiers. Home to the local Jack Rabbit program for young skiers, their signature Jack Rabbit Trail is groomed and lit for night skiing. The Bruce Ski Club maintains the trails and offers beginner, intermediate and advanced trails, groomed for both skate and classic skiing. Want to learn more? You can stop by Suntrail Source for Adventure in Hepworth to buy your trail pass, rent cross-country equipment and ask for advice on getting started in the sport.

Harrison Park, Inglis Falls and the Grey Sauble Conservation Arboretum & Authority Headquarters
If you’re looking for a great spot to ski right in Owen Sound, there are a few beautiful options nearby. While the trail connecting Harrison Park to Inglis Falls is too rugged for cross-country skis, the loops on top of the escarpment at Inglis Falls and within Harrison Park all offer nice leisurely ski opportunities. Skiers are also welcome to break trail in the arboretum at the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority Headquarters. In all three spots, there can be rocks and roots on the trails, so adequate snow coverage is key.

Cobble Beach
This well-known golf destination is also a beautiful winter destination. With over 10 kilometres of groomed cross-country ski trails, you can make a day of your Cobble Beach Trails adventure. Bring your skates and enjoy the outdoor rink then warm up with a hot chocolate or a hot meal at the Sweetwater Restaurant. Call ahead for trail and weather conditions.

The Massie Hills Ski Trail
Groomed weekly by the Owen Sound Cross Country Ski club, this 10 kilometre trail network is located north of the village of Massie, on Massie Road, just south of Grey Road 18. With hilly and winding terrain, you’ll be skiing on the Bruce Trail at times. There are challenging sections, but overall Massie is a family-friendly option. Please pay your fees at the fee box at the trailhead or buy an annual membership from the club. Trail maps and more information are available on the website.

The Glenelg Nordic Ski Trails
This volunteer-run club has 25 kilometres of regularly groomed and track-set trails near Markdale. The trail system includes moderate hills and hardwood. Annual memberships are available and day passes can also be purchased. Children under 18 ski free when their parent has a membership. From County Road 12 continue onto the West Back Line, and then west onto Hamilton Lane to the trail parking lot.

The Kolapore Uplands Wilderness Ski Trails
This 60-kilometre trail system offers a true backcountry experience. Grooming is completed by the first skier of the day, so be prepared to break trail after fresh snow. Access to the north portion of the trails is from Grey Road 2 where there’s a parking lot available. The north portion is best suited to intermediate and advanced skiers. The south portion of the trails can be accessed farther south on Grey Road 2. This portion runs through the County Forest and is a better choice for beginners. While skiing is free, the trails are maintained by the Kolapore Wilderness Trails Association who sell annual memberships to support the trails. Trail maps are available online and at the Ravenna General Store. Maps are strongly recommended, as the trail network is complex.

The Loree Forest
This trail is located south of Thornbury on County Road 2, east of Victoria Corners. Parking is available at the top of the hill on Sideroad 21. This trail is not maintained but the terrain is relatively flat and excellent for beginners and moderate skiers. Pack a picnic and ski to the edge of the Niagara Escarpment. The trail leads to the top of the Georgian Peaks Ski Club, where you’ll find a wooden deck that overlooks the bay. This is a great spot to relax, enjoy your snacks and take some photos. There is no fee to ski at Loree Forest.

Allan Park Management Unit
Allan Park has over 15 kilometres of trails ranging from beginner to advanced difficulty. Be sure to study the map and choose a loop that suits your ability level. Advanced trails feature challenging runs like Big Thunder, Climbin’ Tree and Devil’s Drop.

Grey County Forests
Grey County has over 45 managed forests with over a dozen maintained for winter usage.

Discover More Trip Ideas

Hoggs Falls Winter
Grey County’s waterfall tour draws many visitors to the region in the spring and summer months, but winter is a unique and amazing time to visit some of the waterfalls that are accessible during the snowy months.


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