Sliding through one of the World’s biggest forests in Fort McMurray

 
Photographer
Doc Pow

Sliding through one of the World’s biggest forests in Fort McMurray

Learn more about what Northern Alberta has in store for you this winter visiting our #SkiNorthAB page, where more stories and videos will be coming out all season long.

By Doc Pow for #SkiNorthAB

Fort McMurray, AB. – Fort McMurray, home to the planet’s most densely populated grove of trees. Ok, I just want to get this out of the way up front. We know in 2016, Fort McMurray was home to one of the worst wildfire disasters in Canadian history, but Mother Nature is back. Please be advised, the winter experience is alive and well around here as per this account of the winter bliss we discovered in one of the world's biggest forests.

Hit the trail, slide over to Fort McMurray Tourism's website.

The boreal forests in and around Alberta’s most northernly city are made up of mostly Popular trees and it adds up to an area over 67,000 kilometres in size (twice the size of Vancouver Island), and @ApresWheeler and I went sliding through this green belt to uncover just what stokes the stoke of Fort McMurray’s winter vibe.

Fort Mac
Photographer
Doc Pow

Nordic skiing is just one of the many outdoor pursuits locals and visitors can enjoy when visiting Fort McMurray.

What we found was Nordic, snowshoe, fat bike, sledding and of course downhill ski trails – all totalling 135kms – which definitely keeps everyone in town and those who visit, jacked on snow fun.

Fort Mac
Photographer
Doc Pow

Five-year-old Finn McNiff gets a ski lesson at Fort McMurray's Vista Ridge Ski and Adventure Park.

Kevin McNiff is a firefighter in this northerly Alberta city, which is also home to Vista Ridge Ski and Adventure Park. During our #SkiNorthAB visit, it was McNiff’s son, five-year-old Finn, who learned to slide on skis before our very eyes, giggling while sliding his way through this forest expanse. Finn was talking up a storm leaving the ski hill. 

“He (Finn) loves it. He told me he loves the straight (Nordic) skiing and the downhill skiing,” said Kevin. The new five-year-old Nordic and downhill skier, chimes in to his dad’s comments with, “I like going fast, fast, fast.”

Here are McNiff’s three winter picks around Fort McMurray:

  • Take your kids to learn to ski at Vista Ridge, with its three magic carpets offering a variety of slope grades
  • Experience the Birchwood Nordic Ski Trails, accommodating classic and skate skiers on 31kms of groomed trails (head out on Tuesdays with the crew and bring your headlamp for some skinny skiing under a full mom or even better, the Northern Lights that Fort McMurray is known for)
  • Snowshoeing – Fisheries Trail winds your way through the river valley set amongst the groves of Poplars.
fort mac
Photographer
Doc Pow

The McNiffs, along with some friends, head out for some Nordic skiing through the boreal forests which surround Fort McMurray.

Ptarmigan Nordic Ski Club member and doctor, Rob Bailey only moved from South Africa to Fort McMurray in the past two and a half months, and his first impressions are of how much Fort McMurray’ites value their winter fun.

“The most amazing thing about Fort McMurray is the trail network that runs through the community," said Bailey. "I’m out almost every day on these trials, for Nordic skiers, its top notch and home to a thriving Nordic ski club." Bailey goes on to explain the Ptarmigan Ski Club has over 400 members, pretty decent considering Fort Mac is home to around 65,000 people.

Buffalo and Northern Lights

If you really want to find some winter trails that are one of a kind, Fort McMurray is also the jumping off point for one of the world’s longest winter roads. Drive Fort McMurray to Fort Chip and head past where the buffalo roam in one of the world’s biggest National Parks, Wood Buffalo. You will encounter the largest heard of wild buffalo and an ecological preserve that is bigger than Switzerland. This region is also known for its dark skies and is home to Aurora Borealis displays like you’ve never seen. Read: It’s a marvelous night for a sky dance

When You Go

Hit the trail, slide over to Fort McMurray Tourism's website.

Get in on WinterPlay, February 22 to 24 and jump in one of Western Canada’s largest family focused winter festivals, featuring a huge four-on-four hockey tournament, talent competition and tons more, we’ve got the scoop on it for you on FestivalSeekers.

Uncover the snowshoe and nordic trail experience that the Ptarmigan Ski Club offers - start here.

Edmonton to Fort McMurray is about a four hour drive - which includes travel on a new twinned highway.  The Fort McMurray Airport has regularly scheduled flights from major carriers.

Please share this story with your friend and help them uncover new adventure destinations in 2019 

Learn more about what Northern Alberta has in store for you this winter visiting our #SkiNorthAB page, where more stories and videos will be coming out all season long.

Community
Fort McMurray
Region
Interior Alberta
Province
Alberta