Three km south of Atikokan, in NW Ontario, you will find 36 km of ski loops within a forested area of evergreens and hardwoods, open wetlands, lakes and rocky outcrops. Members of the Beaten Path Nordic Trails manage and groom these trails for cross-country skiing.
You can start at any of the three parking lots by the main loops or opt to ski uphill from the town on 7 km the Great Trail North (note: this start would be on their hardest trail).
Generally, the hillier, more difficult trails are to the north and west and the easier trails are to the east and south of this network. Their easiest trail is the 2 km Red Fox Run – great for beginners.
Beyond, the 4 km Great Trail South leads you to Quetico Provincial Park and 35 kilometres of more skiing adventures. The club has loppet events in the park where racers blast along on the frozen lakes.
Snowshoers can use any of the trails as long as they stay to the side and don’t walk on the classic trackset. The entire trail system is also dog friendly & skijoring (one or more dogs pulling a skier) is permitted.
There is no chalet by the loops, as the club uses the town community centre. There is a rustic open A-frame shelter at Beaver Lake, post #10 where you can light a fire.
Trail intersections have numbered posts and there are map boards to keep you on course. Since this area can at times get too cold for trekking, it’s good to know how to get back quickly.
80% of the trails are both skate/classic, 3% classic only, and 17% groomed for skate skiing with no classic tracks.
Northwestern Ontario takes its Nordic sports seriously. And for good reason: they get ample amounts of snow and a long winter season. Even smaller communities have ski loops for the locals to play on.
Atikokan is a small town 200 km west of Thunder Bay in the scenic Rainy River District. With lots of outdoors to play in, winter or summer, and lodging and eateries, so when you plan to tour this part of Ontario, add this location to your itinerary. And contact the club! They are a friendly group of outdoor enthusiasts.
Due to current limitations in travel and funding, I have yet to visit this location. I have compiled this information as a service to inform readers of other destinations beyond my reach. Photos supplied by club members.