Just south of Atikokan is a little-known but amazing network of scenic cross-country ski trails. This network is operated by Beaten Path Nordic Trails, a dedicated group of local volunteers who do an excellent job of grooming for both classic and skate skiers.
Atikokan’s trail system is diverse and expansive, extending through thirty-seven beautiful kilometres. Starting in the North from Little Falls Community Centre, it follows the Atikokan River past two impressive waterfalls and visits six wilderness lakes, traversing a variety of forest types, high ridges, and wetlands. A segment of the Trans Canada Trail then leads Southeast to the threshold of Quetico Provincial Park–itself an unparalleled winter adventure!
Most skiers will probably prefer to explore the trail system one loop at a time. Round-trips ranging in length from 3km – 25km are accessible from Nordic Lake and Kemuel Lake Trailheads, located on Highway 11, 3km East and West of the Atikokan Tourist Bureau, respectively. Markers along the trails correspond to the colours shown on the map below. Trail names are posted at many intersections, and all junctions are numbered to help skiers pinpoint locations on the map.
If you are new to x-country skiing or you just don’t like hills, we recommend beginning with the trails on the east side. Red Fox Run, the Pine Cone segment, Jim Lake Road (if available), and the South Trans Canada Trail (accessed from Jim Lake Road) will take you through flat or gently rolling terrain. If you’re uncomfortable with any of the hills you encounter, feel free to remove your skis and walk down, staying to the side of the trail opposite the classic tracks.
Through the Jack Rabbit Learn-to-Ski Program, Beaten Path Nordic Trails offers x-country ski lessons and equipment rentals for kids. Adults are welcome to join our Sunday afternoon group ski. We explore a wide range of trails, beginning with short distances over very easy terrain and graduating to longer distances as participants gain skill and feel more comfortable on their skis. Instruction is available along the way for beginners. Even if you’ve never skied before, don’t worry–at the beginning of the season, we “dress warm and travel slow”!
Covid cancellations aside, Beaten Path Nordic Trails offers a full slate of annual events. Stay tuned at Beaten Path Nordic Trails on Facebook to see what this year’s schedule brings.
X-country skiing is a relatively safe way to socialize during Covid, and a great way to build physical and mental health. It’s also fun! Beaten Path Nordic Trails is unique in the region for its expansive trail network, great scenery, reasonable rates, and welcoming dog policies. As long as dogs don’t get in the way of other skiers, you can feel free to include them in your ski adventures, possibly even experimenting with skijoring! Walking on trails is prohibited because it destroys the groomed surface, leaving hills chewed up and dangerous for skiers. Snowshoeing, however, does little harm, provided you stay to the side opposite the classic tracks.
Whether you explore our trails on skis or snowshoes, please be sure to purchase a membership or day pass ahead of time. They are available at Voyageur Bait & Tackle on Highway 11B, on the southern outskirts of Atikokan. Memberships are also available online at https://zone4.ca/register.asp?id=26324&lan=1&cartlevel=1.
If you have any questions about using the ski trails or participating in Beaten Path’s programs and events, don’t hesitate to call us at 807 597-2480.
-Lise Sorensen, Beaten Path Nordic Trails
Atikokan is on the doorstep of one of Ontario’s most traditional wilderness areas, as Quetico Provincial Park stands among the best for its beauty and its ruggedness. We’re only too happy to have you here, whether it’s for a day, for a week, or a lifetime. We are the Canoeing Capital of Canada. We are the Gateway to Quetico Provincial Park. We are Naturally Wild.