Mount Haggin Nordic Ski Area near Anaconda Montana

Nordic Ski Trails in Montana

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There is a quote going around that reads something to the effect of, “If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow.”

One of our favorite ways to find joy in the snow is by Nordic skiing in Montana. Kicking and gliding through meadows and forests brings me much joy. In Montana, cross country skiing is one of the best ways to explore and enjoy the winter landscape.

Combine Montana Nordic skiing with hot cocoa and a roaring fire, and you’ve got a classic winter experience.

Cross Country Skiing Montana

Montana is loaded with Nordic skiing opportunities. From full-fledged lodges, to parking lots that lead to miles of trails — where there is reliable snow in Montana, there is a cross-country ski trail system.

In Montana, XC skiing is often through the woods on National Forest or in our backyards, but this article will cover groomed cross country trails. Some of the places are perfect for your cross country ski vacations, while others lend themselves to a day trip.

Cross country skiing in Big Sky Montana

What To Take Cross Country Skiing

Where To Go Cross-Country Skiing in Montana

There are a lot of places to go Nordic skiing in Montana. Most of them are in the western part of the state, which makes sense since that is where the mountains are and the snow sticks around. This map of cross-country ski areas in Montana is a good starting point, then scroll down for information on the individual areas (alphabetized).

Cross-Country Ski Trails in Montana & Groomed Nordic Trails in MontanaNordic ski trails in montana

B-Bar Ranch, Paradise Valley

cross country skiing in montana bbar ranch

B Bar Ranch is located in the Tom Miner drainage in Paradise Valley. This private guest ranch has around 22.5 km of groomed cross-country ski trails and 8.2 km of backcountry ski trails. Trails can be used by their guests for free or with a day pass.

Once or twice a year, they will hold a fundraising day for local non-profits, and anyone can pay to ski and have lunch.

It’s a beautiful area that we love to visit. Some of the trails are steeper as they climb hills, and there are mellow trails through the wetlands. On a misty day, it feels like you are in a Russell Chatham painting.

B Bar Ranch offers groomed cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and overnight rentals.

interior of a western cabin with two people reading

For cross-country skiing holidays, make a winter reservation for mid-December through March at one of their four vacation rentals. We stayed at the West Wing Cabin and loved the proximity to ski trails. It’s cozy, Western, and sleeps four in two bedrooms.

The Reed Cabin sits next to Reed Meadow and offers amazing views of the Absaroka and Gallatin Mountains. It is approximately one mile from ranch headquarters just inside the first entrance. This cabin sleeps up to four people. There is one bedroom with a queen-sized bed, a living/dining room area that has a sleeper sofa, a full bathroom, a fully stocked kitchen, and a wash/dryer. It also has a nice-sized porch with outdoor chairs and a table perfect for enjoying the breathtaking surroundings.

The West Bunkhouse is a stand-alone, six-bedroom, two full bath, log house located in the heart of ranch headquarters. The bunkhouse can comfortably accommodate up to nine people. The bunkhouse has a fully stocked full-sized kitchen, dining room, bathroom, four bedrooms, and washer/dryer downstairs and a living room, bathroom, and two bedrooms upstairs.

The Gatehouse is a 4 bedroom, 1 bathroom house. All bedrooms in this unit are on the second floor with two bedrooms furnished with one queen-sized bed each and the other two bedrooms holding one twin bed each. There is a fully stocked full sized kitchen and a wash/dryer.  B Bar Ranch Montana.

cross country skiing with a baby in montana

Bigfork Community Nordic Center and Blacktail Nordic Trails, Flathead Lake

The North Shore Nordic Club maintains trails for skiers and snowshoers in the Flathead Valley. They groom 6.5 kilometers at Bigfork Community Nordic Center and 43 kilometers at Blacktail Nordic Trails.

Bigfork trails are located at the intersection of Foothill and Jewel Basin Road north of Bigfork. Blacktail trails are along Blacktail Road east of Blacktail Mountain (alpine) Ski Area. Free, but donations are encouraged.  Bigfork Community Nordic Center and Blacktail Nordic Trails

Crosscut Mountain Sports Center, Bozeman

cross country skier with trees and mountain in back

Formerly Bohart Ranch Cross Country Ski Center, the new Crosscut is a year-round sports center and expanded trail system. 

They groom more than 35 kilometers of the scenic trail system on private and Forest Service lands daily. The trails loop through terrain well suited for all levels of ability. Crosscut is known for impeccably groomed trails, big hills, biathlon training, fat biking, and wildlife.

Crosscut Nordic Ski Center offers lessons, season passes, and daily rental rates. Rentals are available for touring on a first-come, first-serve basis. For cross-country ski rental, in Bozeman, try Bangtail Sports.

If you are cross-country skiing Bozeman, the center is located 16 miles northeast of the city. Crosscut Mountain Sports Center

Chief Joseph Trail System

A woman and a man cross country skiing amongst snow covered trees at Chief Joseph Ski Trails in Montana

Chief Joseph’s many kilometers of groomed trails receive reliable snowfall every year and is usually skiable earlier and later than many of the other Nordic trails in the area.

The Chief Joseph Pass Ski Trails are located at the southern end of the Bitterroot Valley, just east of Lost Trail Ski Area and the junction of Highways 93 and 43. There are over 13 miles of trails groomed for classic and skate skiing, and snowshoeing. The snow is almost always great and you can’t beat the scenery!

The Nordic trails are connected to nearly 20 miles of multi-use trails for skiing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, fat-tire biking, and snowmobiling.

There is a warming cabin (my favorite Montana ski center!), with a rentable loft. You can even rent the Gordon Reece Forest Service cabin and spend the night. It’s free to ski, but consider donating to the Bitterroot Ski Club to help with grooming and maintenance costs. Chief Joseph Trail System

Double Arrow Resort, Seeley Lake

back of chairs and snowy field of cross country ski trails at Double Arrow Resort in Seeley Lake Montana

This resort in the middle of the Seeley-Swan Valley has 15 kilometers of groomed trails to fit a variety of experience levels. Beyond the trails, backcountry skiing lures the well-equipped and avalanche-savvy. We stayed here as part of our winter Montana road trip.  

The Seeley Lake Nordic Trails (below) has more cross-country ski trails in Seeley Lake.

The Double Arrow Resort offers two-bedroom condos and three-bedroom condos close to the golf course where the ski trails are set. The Season’s Restaurant in the lodge serves up delicious food and the lobby is a great place to hang out and play games, have a drink, or read.

Elkhorn Hot Springs, Butte/Anaconda

More than 20 miles of ski and snowmobile (separate) trails beckon at Elkhorn Hot Springs in the Pioneer Mountains.

From the lookout at Solarium Point, gaze south three miles to the ski runs at Maverick Mountain and beyond to the Big Hole Valley. To the north and east, the mountains — Highboy, Comet, and Saddleback —dominate the skyline.

Soak in the hot springs pools après ski. We tend to make an every-other-year visit to Elkhorn Hot Springs, we like it that much. The accommodations are certainly rustic (it’s more like a Forest Service cabin than a resort or motel).  Elkhorn Hot Springs 

See also: Montana Hot Springs

Forest Service Trails

Throughout the state, the U.S. Forest Service maintains a network of hiking/biking/horseback riding trails that double as ski trails. Check with the local district for the best trails to ski.

Glacier National Park

two kids laying on a dock looking at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park with snowy mountains in the distance

Winter ski and snowshoe trails throughout Glacier offer access to spectacular scenery and uncrowded recreational opportunities. From Apgar, Lake McDonald, and North Fork on the west side, to Saint Mary, Marias Pass, and Two Medicine on the east side, both groomed and ungroomed trails crisscross the park. There are so many things to do in Glacier National Park, whether you visit in summer or winter.

There are many trails for cross-country skiing Glacier National Park and you can access trails from various parts of the park.

Glacier National Park skiing requires paying the entrance fee to the park or using your America the Beautiful Pass.

Glacier National Park Lodging

There are hotels near Glacier National Park, as well as hotels within the park, that are open in winter.

  • One of our favorite places to stay near Glacier in the winter is the Izaak Walton Inn. (scroll down for more on that groomed Nordic ski area). You can stay in the cozy lodge, one of the renovated train cars, or a cabin.
  • The Lodge at Whitefish Lake offers classic hotel rooms, suites, lakefront condominiums, and luxury homes near Whitefish, Montana. You’ll have easy access to Glacier National Park ski trails, as well as cross country skiing Whitefish, Montana, and trails near Flathead Lake.
  • To stay in West Glacier, a gateway town at the west entrance to the park, or in the park at Apgar Village, check out all the house and cabin rentals in Glacier National Park.

Glacier Nordic Center/Whitefish Golf Course, Meadow Lake Nordic Trails, and Big Mountain Nordic Trails, Whitefish 

Glacier Nordic Club grooms and maintains 12 kilometers of flat-to-rolling ski trails at the Whitefish Lake Golf Course, 25 hilly kilometers on Whitefish Mountain, and 6 kilometers of flat and gently rolling terrain at Meadow Lake.

At the Glacier Nordic Center on the Whitefish Golf Course, trails are groomed for both classic and skate skiing. Four kilometers are lit for nighttime skiing and the Glacier Nordic Shop is here. Park on the north side of Hwy 93 by the Whitefish Lake Restaurant. 

At Big Mountain Nordic Trails, the Glacier Nordic Club works with Iron Horse Golf Club on grooming 25 kilometers through cedar forests and along Whitefish Lake.

Parking is in the new lot (only!) at 3315 Big Mountain Road. 

Meadow Lake Nordic Trails are found in Columbia Falls, between Whitefish and Glacier National Park. There are three easy loops totaling 6 kilometers. Park a mile north of Hwy 2 at the Meadow Lake Golf Course at Meadow Lake Resort in Columbia Falls. There is a coffee shop and restaurant at the trailhead. 

A day pass or Glacier Nordic Club season membership pass is required to ski any of the courses. Glacier Nordic Club

Homestake Lodge, Butte

cross country skiers in the trees at Homestake Lodge near Butte, Montana

At Homestake Lodge, east of Butte, skiers kick, glide, and skate over nearly 40 kilometers of groomed trails. School groups don skis for the first time, women’s groups hone their skills on skate skis and kids’ groups learn to ski recreationally and competitively.

Families and individuals breeze through aspen trees and around beaver ponds and cruise up and down the conifer-lined trails beneath granite cliffs.

A decade ago, this Nordic center was nothing but trees, boulders, and a few dirt roads. Now families, exercise enthusiasts, and hard-core Nordic skiers get their cross-country fix, meet up with friends, and enjoy a bowl of homemade soup in front of the fire.

“We had a vision of a place with great trails and a communal aspect,” said Chris Axelson, who owns Homestake Lodge with his wife Mandy.

They’ve made that dream come true and created some of the best cross-country skiing in the U.S.

With an eye on minimizing their carbon footprint through the use of passive solar heating, thermal masses, photovoltaic panels, and other eco-groovy techniques, Homestake Lodge is a perfect place for a day – or a weekend – out of town.

Nestled at the top of Homestake Pass between Butte and Whitehall, Homestake Lodge superbly grooms 37 kilometers of trails for classic and skate skiing. Ten kilometers of trail are dog-friendly. A yurt, cabins, and bunk rooms are available for rent. We ski here regularly as a family and rent out the lodge for an annual girls’ weekend.  Homestake Lodge

Izaak Walton Inn, Glacier National Park/Essex

This historic inn bordering Glacier National Park in Essex has 33 kilometers of ski trails, which are groomed daily. The trails wind through gently rolling, forested terrain with views into Glacier National Park. Guided backcountry ski tours provide amazing adventures.

We stayed here as part of our winter Montana road trip and we all loved it. You can stay in the lodge, in cabins, or a renovated train car. We stayed in a caboose and could ski right out the door. The cozy lodge is just down the hill and has a restaurant, bar, and game room.

Find the best deal, read reviews, and make your reservation at the Izaak Walton Inn.

Lake Como Trails

Ariel view of two people snowshoeing at Lake Como Ski trails

There are about 16 miles of groomed trails at Lake Como. Because of its low elevation, the season is short, but fun.

While we were there it was too warm to use the groomed trails, so we donned our snowshoes on the northwest side of the lake instead and walked up a summer hiking trail with gorgeous views of the mountains.

The Como Trails are open to dogs and there are designated single-track trails for fat biking. Lake Como Ski Trails

Lolo Pass Ski Trails

Two people cross country skiing with trees in the background at Lolo Pass Ski Trails Montana

Lolo Pass is nestled in the Bitterroot Range on the Montana-Idaho border.

There are 6.5 miles of cross-country ski trails. The trails meander through thick forests and open meadows, revealing quick peaks of the historic pass. The Nez Perce came through here when they were fleeing the U.S. Army and Lolo Pass was an important place for the Lewis and Clark Expedition Corps of Discovery.

Skiers can also explore the 13.6-mile multi-use trail shared with snowmobiles, fat bikes, and snowshoers.

There is a 1.5-mile snowshoe loop, as well, and snowshoers can walk anywhere in the National Forest except within 30 feet of designated cross-country ski trails.

Start at the visitor center to buy your Winter Recreation Pass ($5/day pass; $20 /bundle of 5 day passes; $35/season pass), use the restrooms, get information, and warm up with hot chocolate, coffee, or tea. Lolo Pass Visitor Center is open Thursday – Monday, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Pacific). Restrooms are available 24/7. 

There is no cell service between the town of Lolo and Lolo Pass.) Lolo Pass Ski Trails

Lone Mountain Ranch, Big Sky

For Nordic skiing, Big Sky is the place to go. It’s known, of course, for its alpine ski area — the largest in the United States, but there is great cross country skiing in the area, too.

Voted No. 1 Nordic Ski Resort in North America by Cross Country Skier magazine, the dependable snow, 85 kilometers of meticulously groomed trails, and epic views create an unrivaled ski experience for Big Sky cross country skiing.

Stay in one of the cabins for a Big Sky Nordic skiing getaway. The meals in the lodge are delicious, the music in the bar is fun, and there is so much to explore on skis or snowshoes. Don’t miss their sleigh ride dinner for an iconic Western winter outing.

Check out reviews, the best prices, and make a reservation at Lone Mountain Ranch.

two kids cross country skiing at Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky Montana

MacDonald Pass and Bill Roberts Golf Course, Helena

three nordic skiers in montana at macdonald pass with snowy trees in the background

The Last Chance Nordic Ski Club maintains trails in two areas near Helena. The 14 kilometers of trails at MacDonald Pass offer stunning views of the Big Belt Mountains through the sheltered forest area. The area is about 15 miles west of Helena and trails are groomed for classic and skating almost daily.

There’s no charge to ski, but skiers are encouraged to join the LCNSC or make a donation to help defray grooming costs. Park in the lot on the north side of Highway 12, about one-third of a mile east of the highway summit.

The city golf course offers convenient skiing in town. They groom 4 kilometers of trail around the perimeter of the course.

Skiing is free. Park at 2201 North Benton Avenue, immediately east of Benton Avenue, two driveways north of the railroad tracks. Last Chance Nordic Ski Club

Missoula Trails: Pattee Canyon Recreation Area and Rattlesnake National Recreation Area

The Missoula Nordic Ski Club grooms two areas near Missoula: Pattee Canyon and the Rattlesnake.

Pattee Canyon Recreation Area has 10 kilometers of groomed skate and classic trails. The South Side Trails are beautiful and hilly. The North Side Trails are flatter, but also scenic. Park five miles east of Missoula on Pattee Canyon Drive.

The Rattlesnake Trail is 8 kilometers groomed for classic skiing, foot travel, and winter biking. Because this is a multi use trail, you’ll find more people, dogs, bikes, and walkers here than at Pattee Canyon. It is not groomed for skate skiing. Drive 6 miles north of Missoula on Rattlesnake Drive. Missoula Nordic Ski Club

For cross country skiing, Missoula locals also kick and glide at Lolo Pass where there are 13 km (8 mi) of trails groomed for skate and classic skiing, plus a significant network of groomed multi-use trails suitable for skating or un-tracked classic. This is also a popular snowmobile spot. Lolo Hot Springs is in the area for an apres-ski soak.

Moultan Reservoir, Butte

trail sign for cross country skiing at Moultan Reservoir near Butte MontanaIn a town known for its Irish heritage, a Nordic community is taking hold. All around Butte, locals and visitors are kicking and gliding along groomed cross-country ski trails, backcountry skiing in the surrounding mountains, and snowshoeing up tree-covered slopes. They aren’t necessarily ethnically Nordic, but they do love to play in the snow.

“There is a small group of die-hards, but there are a lot of Nordic skiers in general,” said Dave Williams, former president and current member of the Mile High Nordic Ski Education Foundation (MHNSEF).

MHNSEF grooms two Nordic ski areas – Moulton Reservoir, eight miles north of Butte and Mt. Haggin, near Anaconda. They also work with Homestake Lodge, a commercial cross-country ski area on the Continental Divide 15 minutes from Butte, and sponsor “Learn to Ski Days.”

“We have a “Learn Moulton Day” where we show people the trails and a couple of other educational events, including a waxing clinic,” Williams said.

In all three groomed areas, trails wind through conifers, past snow-covered rocks, and over hills. Moulton Reservoir and Homestake Lodge are close enough to Butte that skiers can hit the trails after work.

Now that it is staying light later in the day, Lisa O’Donnell has been fitting in a ski tour after a day in the office.

“I can get to Moulton in about 20 minutes and decompress with a ski after work,” O’Donnell said. “I go a couple of days a week and there are usually six or so other cars in the lot when I arrive. It’s a great spot to run my dog and soak in the fresh, winter air.”

The approximately 14 kilometers of trails are maintained for classic skiing by the Forest Service in cooperation with the Mile High Nordic Ski Education Foundation. All of the trails are dog-friendly and feature lots of hills. Trail names, including Neversweat, Prospect Meadow and Motherlode, reflect Butte’s mining industry. Drive about eight miles north of Butte on Moulton Reservoir Road. The road dead ends at the parking area. No fee.

This is one of my favorite spots for Butte, Montana skiing. Mile High Nordic Ski Education Foundation.

There are a lot of fun things to do in Butte, Montana (click through to see a few of them, plus an ungroomed cross-country ski trail). Make sure you stop by Headframe Spirits and get some Orphan Girl to take on your ski.

view of treetops and mountains in the distance

Where to stay in Butte, Montana

  • For a convenient spot in Uptown, we like the Finlin Hotel, one of Butte’s landmarks. The Finlin is a unique 1920s hotel that will take you back to the time when “copper was king” and Butte was a prosperous mining town and the largest city in Montana. Sparkling clean rooms, high ceilings, period woodwork, a gorgeous lobby, and original features make this the place to stay in Uptown. The Finlin Hotel is one the way to Moultan Reservoir ski trails. See reviews and find the best deals on the Finlin Hotel here.
  • The Holiday Inn Express and Suites is a good option for those wanting to stay near the intersection of I-90 and I-15. The rooms are clean, new, and quiet and the breakfast is pretty good. It’s exactly what you expect from a Holiday Inn Express. Being near the highway makes it easy to get to Homestake Lodge, as well as being at the gateway to Butte and Moultan Reservoir trails. See reviews and find the best deals on the Holiday Inn Express Butte here.

Mount Haggin Nordic Ski Area, Anaconda/Butte

Mount Haggin Nordic Ski Area near Anaconda Montana

Mile High Nordic Ski Education Foundation (MHNSEF) maintains groomed cross-country ski trails in cooperation with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks at Mount Haggin near Anaconda.

Great views abound on the nearly 28 kilometers of trails. About 10 kilometers are groomed for skate skiing, and all of the trails, with the exception of the Spire Loop, are groomed for classic skiing.

Ski trails can also be used as access to backcountry skiing along the Continental Divide. Volunteers groom the trail system once or twice per week. Drive west on Highway 569 from Anaconda, about 24 miles to the parking area on the left (south) side of the road. No fee.  Mount Haggin Nordic Ski Area

  • The Sugar Loaf Lodge and Cabins is right across the highway from Mount Haggin Nordic Ski Area. This cozy spot is perfect for a winter, mountain getaway.

Red Lodge Nordic Center and Silver Run Ski Trails

The Red Lodge Nordic Center has more than 15 kilometers of groomed trails are laid out to take advantage of easy-going nature of the terrain just outside of Red Lodge. Well-groomed trails skirt meadows and wind through aspen groves; the hills are challenging, but easy to avoid. There are lots of other things to do in Red Lodge in winter, so stay for a few days.  Red Lodge Nordic Center

Nordic skier on the trails at Silver Run Cross Country Ski Trails near Red Lodge Montana

Silver Run Ski Trails wind along Rock Creek and through meadows. There’s an easy 4-kilometer loop, a 7-kilometer intermediate loop, and an 11-kilometer advanced loop. I think the difficulty rating is based on distance, not technical difficulty or elevation change.

The mellow trails run through trees and boulders. Its really pretty, but not especially scenic. The lower portions of the loops follow Rock Creek. Drive about five miles up the West Fork of Rock Creek to the Silver Creek Ski Trails on the left. Silver Run Ski Trails

Where to Stay in Red Lodge, Montana

Here’s what the Silver Run Ski Trails look like in summer.

Rendezvous Ski Trails, West Yellowstone

Easily accessible in West Yellowstone, the Rendezvous Ski Trails consist of more than 35 kilometers of gently rolling, beautifully groomed trails that wind through tall stands of lodgepole pine and open meadows. Situated at just more than 6,800 feet, the trails provide perfect conditions for high altitude training or recreation. A 22-lane range is available on a self-serve basis for Biathlon training. There are lots of other fun winter activities in West Yellowstone, so you may want to stay a few days. Rendezvous Ski Trails

sign reading "Rendezvous Ski Trails" with Nordic skiers below. In West Yellowstone Montana

Where to Stay in West Yellowstone

  • The Stagecoach Inn tends to be one of the few cheap hotels near Yellowstone and it’s still pretty decent.
  • The staff at the Explorer Cabins

    will organize a tour into the park or get you set for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or ice fishing nearby. And the bonus is, when you get back to the Explorer Cabins you can roast marshmallows around campfire.

    The Yellowstone camping cabins are clustered in groups of five, making it ideal for extended family or a group gathering. Each private cabin boasts stylish décor, fine linens, a flat-screen TV and a kitchenette for whipping up your favorite meals. WiFi is available in the cabins and throughout the property. Dog-friendly cabins are available.

    Find more reviews and the best deals on the Explorer Cabins.

  • Another of our favorite Yellowstone West Entrance lodging options is the Holiday Inn West Yellowstone. We tend to stay here in the winter because it’s close to the Rendezvous Ski Trails. The Holiday Inn has all the basics: renovated guest rooms and suites, indoor pool, hot tub, in room microwaves, mini fridges, and free WiFi. The full service restaurant offers Montana cuisine and a full bar. Find more reviews and the best deals on the Holiday Inn West Yellowstone.
  • The Best Western Desert Inn is just two blocks from the West Entrance to Yellowstone and close to the River Side Ski Trails. The rooms are big, if a little dated. Some rooms have kitchenettes, which is nice for easy meals or prepping picnic supplies for the day.

    There is a pool, hot tub, WiFi, guest laundry, and laundry services. If you are looking for the closest hotel to Yellowstone National Park, this might be it. It’s also close to shopping, restaurants, the Imax Theater, and the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. See more reviews and find the best deals on the Best Western in West Yellowstone.

Vacation Rentals in West Yellowstone

There are also a ton of vacation rentals in West Yellowstone. You get your own home away from home to spread out and relax. I am constantly surprised at how many houses for rent in West Yellowstone pop up each year.

If you want to scan all the places for rent in West Yellowstone, check out this page.

A few of the best homes and cabins in West Yellowstone:

Read more about visiting West Yellowstone in fall here and for fun things to do in winter in West Yellowstone, see this post. And scroll down to see the Riverside Ski Trails in the Yellowstone section.

Round Meadow Trail System, Whitefish

The Round Meadow X-C Ski trails include 12 miles of easy to advance moderate nordic ski terrain in seven interconnecting loops. There is a nice combination of easy, intermediate, and expert trails. The trails are groomed weekly or after a big storm by the Forest Service.

From Whitefish, take Hwy 93 west 10 miles, turn on Farm-to-Market Rd go 1.5 miles, turn onto the Star Meadow Road go 1.5 miles, turn at the Round Mountain sign. Round Meadow Cross Country Ski Area

Seeley Lake Nordic

Cross country skiing at Seeley Lake

The Seeley Creek Nordic Trail system has reliable snow, impeccably groomed trails, a cozy warming hut and trails for all interest levels and abilities. The 18-kilometers of trails were designed to host ski races, as well as families wanting to stretch their legs and take advantage of Montana’s long, snowy winters.

We stopped here for a few days on our Montana winter road trip.

Adrien Marx has lived in Seeley Lake for more than 30 years.

“The Seeley Lake Nordic trails cannot be taken for granted. They have standards set for homologation and passionate skate and classic skiers are working on an additional system that has the possibility to attract competitive opportunities in addition to Nordic skiing at its finest level. Be it serious or recreational Nordic skiing – Seeley Lake has the best I have experienced.”

Ski and biathlon races are held throughout the winter, and there will be more in the future. The community is looking to build more trails at a World Cup level in hopes of attracting more skiers and turning Seeley Lake into a truly world-class venue.

While these trails may be Montana’s best kept Nordic secret, there are plenty of other cross-country trails around Seeley Lake.

“If I were to choose the one outing that surfaces to the top of so many great times – it would be a full moon ski on Seeley Lake – in frigid temps, but warmed by the zillion countless crystals that guided the smooth surface that met the swoosh of my skis,” Marx said. “Looking up, I could see reflected diamonds – but they are brilliant and countless stars that shine on the wild peaks to the east and the west. Those high peaks and ridges were clothed in that bluish winter white and stark white against the black sky. Wilderness remote – yet in view.”

Drive north from Seeley Lake, 0.02 miles, turn right on Morrell Creek Road. The parking area is on the left after one mile. Seeley Creek Nordic

  • When we are in Seeley Lake, we like to stay at the Double Arrow Resort, which also has its own ski trails (see entry above). The Double Arrow Resort offers two-bedroom condos and three-bedroom condos close to the golf course where the ski trails are set. The Seasons Restaurant in the lodge serves up delicious food and the lobby is a great place to hang out and play games, have a drink, or read

Silver Crest Winter Trails

More than 20 kilometers of trail wind through trees and meadows at the Silver Crest trails located in the Little Belt Mountains south of Neihart. Benches and shelters dot the trails just where skiers need a rest. Rent the Kings Hill Forest Service cabin for a cozy stay close to Silver Crest and the alpine trails at Showdown. Silver Crest Winter Trails

This is where people come for Great Falls, MT skiing, as well as coming up from White Sulphur Springs.

Showdown Montana, a downhill ski area is nearby.

See more Forest Service cabins for rent in this post.

Stillwater Mountain Lodge (CLOSED)

The 20 kilometers of Nordic trails wind through old growth forests, roll over ridge tops and meander through meadows eight miles from Whitefish. Trails are groomed daily. The lodge offers three suites for overnight guests.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is at its best in winter. A blanket of snow, steamy geysers and hot springs, wildlife hunkered in the valleys, and the lack of summer crowds make skiing in Wonderland delightful. Find groomed or blazed trails at Mammoth, Tower, Old Faithful, Northeast, Canyon, West Yellowstone, and along Highway 191 in Gallatin Canyon.

Try the Tower Falls Trail (in photo below) or Snow Pass to Bunsen Peak trails for cross country skiing in Yellowstone near Mammoth.

cross country skiers in front of basalt pillars on the Tower Falls Ski Trail in Yellowstone

There are so many opportunities for Yellowstone cross country skiing. For West Yellowstone cross country skiing, try the Riverside Ski Trails, Baker’s Hole, Boundary Trail, or Rendezvous Ski Trails (scroll up to read about West Yellowstone’s Rendezvous Trails).

Skier along the Madison River in Yellowstone
NPS/Bianca Klein

One of my favorite things is to get into the middle of the park and ski from Yellowstone Expedition’s Yurt Camp or from the Old Faithful Area.

Be sure to check out my Yellowstone site for all the fun things to do in Yellowstone National Park in Winter including, but beyond, cross country skiing Yellowstone Park.

Find the groomed Nordic ski trails in Montana, a Nordic ski map, and a description of each cross country ski area, along with what to pack for cross country skiing. Find the groomed Nordic ski trails in Montana, a Nordic ski map, and a description of each cross country ski area, along with what to pack for cross country skiing.

A much abbreviated version of this story originally appeared in The Great Falls Tribune, February 13, 2014.

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2 thoughts on “Nordic Ski Trails in Montana”

  1. Deborah Haydis

    You really should check out Nordic ski resort- Dog Creek Lodge outside of Whitefish, Montana. Feel free to call me to learn more about what we offer.

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