The Trail

As the team prepares

the ski marathon trail every winter, skiers can come to this website section to see the details of what will be skied that particular year. Typically near mid-January, the 10 sections that define the 160 km adventures are finalized and we are ready to publish details. Here you will find a section-by-section description of the trail in general terms. Estimated distance and elevation graphs will be presented. Always keep in mind that the Canadian Ski Marathon offers a special and unique trail that is only skied on the particular weekend of the event. It is a winter adventure! As such details are provided as a guideline. In preparing the trail we keep to the general philosophies that launched the event so many decades ago. The trail is approximately 80 km per day. It is mostly tracked set for classic skiing and where feasible we double-track-set the trail to make passing easier. Indeed on a good snow year, 80% of the trail may have two parallel sets of tracks.

Sections vary from

9.5 km to 25 km. They start and end with a Check Point (called CPs) where hot and cold drinks, food, and waxing services are offered by our volunteers. First aid is also available and buses are available within a reasonable wait time to exit the course. If abandoning the marathon mid-way through a section, always remember to let an official know! Most sections have a “water station” somewhere about halfway that is tended by volunteers. Food is often not available at water points so skiers should be ready for these longer sections to provide their own snacks for the journey.

From 1967 to 1993

the trail traveled westward, typically from Lachute to Gatineau or Ottawa. In 1994 the CSM organization decided to offer some variety to the skiers and began to alternate the direction – every even year would see the course shift eastward and by then start in Buckingham and end in Lachute. Montebello has always been maintained as the mid-point where the event ends on Saturday night and begins on Sunday morning. In 2018 a new section was launched. To mitigate risk against warming trends and urban development, a northern section was developed and tested and ready to ski! It has been a very popular “leg” of the ski marathon and has been skied since. In 2018, 2019, and 2020 the event started just south of Mont-Tremblant, heading south to Montebello and turned east to Lachute.

As of 2022

The intent is to maintain these three legs, North, East, and West, to offer the most flexibility possible and ease the planning of future events. Every year a team analyzes challenges that are expected in the coming year and considers many factors. Typically before the end of spring, a decision is made and a trial is selected for the following year.

Whatever trail system we use to bring 160 km of skiing to the community it must be emphasized that much of the land we travel through is now private land. Owners give us special permission to use their property – we must be respectful and thankful. While some of the marathons uses trails that are groomed all winter and available to anyone, most of the trail is absolutely not available outside of the two days we host the event. As we travel through Canadian wilderness there is also the context that we are not first on this land and mindfulness while we ski can only enrich our own lives. Finally thank you to the volunteers who work with passion and love of cross-country skiing to bring this trail to all of us. Stay tuned for the details of this year!