Cross-country ski enthusiasts are setting tracks to open up new ski trails near the Banff townsite, including at Tunnel Mountain Campground.
The Town of Banff, Parks Canada and the Association for Mountain Parks Protection and Enjoyment (AMPPE) are in talks on proposed new trails – but officials say discussions are in very preliminary stages.
“In general, we’re looking at the possibility of increasing the entry-level beginner cross-country skiing opportunities around Banff so that there’s more product,” said Monica Andreeff, AMPEE’s executive director.
“Tunnel Mountain Campground is one of the easier areas to try to put a pilot through because it’s a nice maze of trails, it’s unused in winter and it’s close to town.”
The dissolved Western Canadian Ski Foundation has given the Town of Banff a snowmobile, cross-country ski-track setter and $8,500 in a cash reserve, which was officially accepted by council on Monday (Jan. 14).
The reserve will continue to be added to each year with the net surplus from loppet registrations.
The Town will administer the cash reserve, as well as maintain and store the equipment in exchange for volunteer cross-country track maintenance, including for events like Mountain Madness and the Lake Louise to Banff Loppet.
Joe Lunn, who was a member of the former ski foundation, said the equipment could be used to track set other locations in the vicinity of the town, too, noting there are preliminary discussions with Parks Canada.
“Tunnel Mountain Campground is closed in winter, there’s roads there and we could get tracksets up there without a lot of snow,” he said.
Andreeff said the campground on Tunnel Mountain also has lights that could be an option to allow for night skiing, and parking would not be a problem in that location.