Missoula Cross-Country and Nordic Skiing – Big Things Happening!


Big things are happening in the cross-country (XC) and Nordic skiing scenes in Missoula. I’m not referring to La Nina and the forecast for another BIG snow year. I’m talking about the BIG opportunities for great cross country and Nordic skiing on our local trails due to the efforts of our area ski clubs.

Fueled by a passion for skiing, these volunteer clubs are energized, ambitious, and effective. They have created a Missoula XC ski culture that has survived and thrived even in marginal snow years. They have worked hard to develop cooperative relationships with land agencies to create great skiing on our public lands.

This winter, Missoula area cross country skiers are set to benefit BIG time from their efforts.

What are your plans for cross-country skiing this winter?  

A quiet ski through the woods? Gliding effortlessly over freshly groomed trails? Introducing your kids or grand-kids to cross-country skiing? Taking a ski lesson? Learning to skate ski? Trying your first ski race or biathlon – a combined ski race and target-shooting competition?

You, fellow Missoulians, are in luck. Thanks to our area ski clubs, all of these cool activities are available to you.

Want to have great ski year? Here’s how:  

STEP 1. Join a ski club. Simply put, without the community’s financial and volunteer support, these great ski opportunities will go away. Plus, you’ll be in the loop on ski club activities.

STEP 2.  Reap the rewards of your ski club involvement and go skiing! Here are a few of your options:

The Missoula Nordic Ski Club grooms three local ski trails. Their website is THE source of info on local and regional ski conditions, races, lessons, and events.

Pattee Canyon
Right outside of town, with a mixed terrain through beautiful old larch and pine, Pattee is close enough to  town that you can be on the snow in minutes. The ski club has learned to make the most out of this area with skilled grooming. Don’t be surprised if the skiing is surprisingly good, even if it’s “sketchy” in town. After a snowfall the skiing can be simply amazing.

The Snake is a shockingly beautiful ski gem. The trail along Rattlesnake Creek never fails to generate endorphin-fueled feelings of gratitude for having this special area in our back yard.

Lubrecht Experimental Forest is a short drive from Missoula with lots of groomed and ungroomed trails to explore. It is remote, quiet, and doggy friendly – perfect for a weekend ski outing.

Seeley Lake
The Seeley Lake Nordic ski trails have a well-deserved reputation for fantastic snow, consistent grooming, and renowned races. (Think OSCR and and the Seeley Lake Biathlon.) OSCR features a challenging 50k race (the ski equivalent of a marathon) on a beautiful course, while the friendly biathlon organizers provide rifles and training to novices who want to try out the sport.

The Seeley Lake community is embarking on an exciting and ambitious plan to transform the town into a top-notch destination for cross-county skiing. See their website for details and stay tuned to future developments.

The Bitterroot
Fantastic snow and a spectacular warming hut await you at the Chief Joseph Pass Ski Trails. The Como Trails are the newcomers to the Bitterroot cross-country skiing scene.

Lolo Pass
The quickest way to get above a winter inversion and into deep powder is to take a drive up to Lolo Pass and enjoy the trails, visitor center and warming hut. This area is maintained by the USFS.

This winter, when all of us Missoula cross country skiers are deciding whether to go BIG or go home, we can thank our local ski clubs and our public land agencies for all the great options we have have.

PHOTO CREDITS:  David Connery and Claudine Tobalske


Mark Vosburgh is a 4th generation Montanan (from Boulder, MT) and 26 year resident of Missoula. He’s worked as a chemical engineer, back-country ski guide, wildfire scientist. He plays in several local bluegrass bands and enjoys the usual assortment of Missoula’s great outdoor opportunities.