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Friday, March 4, 2016

(Dog Friendly!) Cross Country Skiing in Utah

I have been wanting to try Cross country skiing for a while.  I know it's going to be work, but I have this image of me gliding around on skis on a beautiful freshly snowed terrain.  I also have this image of Olive pulling me when I get too lazy to propel myself.  

Let's just stop right here so I can mention neither of these fantasies happened as planned.  Fresh snow was replaced with icy trails and a few diggers, and Olive decided this is the one time in her life she didn't want to drag me around.  Experience and expectations were a little different, but either way, I loved learning to Cross Country ski and having Olive with me. Be prepared to spend a little bit of time on you butt if the downhill is icy.  

But know this... 
the boots are so much more comfortable than regular ski boots. 

First things first, I needed to do a little bit of research on rentals. I decided to go with rentals from the University of Utah because I hadn't given them enough money through tuition they were fairly priced, easy to work with, and close to my apartment.

- - - - - - - Ski Rentals - - - - - - - 

Day:  $14     Weekend:  $18    Additional Day:   $4
Rossignol Evo cross-country skis (165cm, 175cm, 185cm and 195 cm), 
Rossignol boots, and poles
HOURS:  Saturday:  10am-2pm   Sunday:  2pm-6pm

Or if you want to buy your gear for cheap, Amazon has some pretty great package deals. 

Next, was finding some dog (and beginner) friendly cross-country skiing routes.  Utah can be a little tricky with its watershed regulations, but I am happy to report I still found two spots close to Salt Lake City that allowed dogs and didn't break the bank.  A lot of spots did not allow dogs, and a bunch of spots charged some really high prices.

- - - - - - - Location 1 - - - - - - - 

Round Valley, Park City 

My friend Alicia over at Girl On A Hike posted about cross country skiing at Round Valley (a spot I have hiked and biked several times before) so I decided to freshen up on the info in her post, grabbed some rental skis, and made my way to lovely Park City.

Round Valley is a great place if you are just starting off.  Not only is it free AND dog-friendly, but it is relatively flat, making it the perfect place to learn.  The trail also has cross country ski "grooves" on one side of the track.  If you are new to the sport, it is a good idea to use your track as a way to guide you, and keep your skis in-line.  You can use the shuffle method, keeping your skis in the tracks, not worrying about steering and focusing on your rhythm and movement.  When you are feeling confident, you can ski on the main open area.

The trail stays moderately flat, with a few rolling hills.  This is really helpful if you are new to cross country skiing and struggling with the downhill part.  There are also several different tracks you can follow throughout Round Valley and even a designated flat open areas for cross country skiiers only.  We stayed out of this area as it was closed to dogs.  The rest of the park is open to dogs, and there are plenty of trails to get a workout in with your dog on a winter day.

- - - - - - - Location 2 - - - - - - - 

Mill Creek Canyon, Utah 

($3.00 Canyon Fee)

After having a blast at Round Valley (and knowing my ski rentals weren't due until 6pm), I decided to make the most out of my $14 rental and squeeze in another day of cross country skiing. Sunday, we headed to Mill Creek Canyon, another dog-friendly cross-country skiing spot near Salt Lake City. This spot was very very different from Round Valley. The trail is not flat, but instead, starts at the end of the winter gate closure in Mill Creek. You ski up the actual road, a gradual but continuous climb up the canyon. While the climb is a great workout and a lot of fun, the downhill can be treacherous in certain conditions. It is really hard to stop without edges on your skis, and this trail iced over very quickly. A lot of skiers were skiing up and walking down the trail because the ice was so bad.

But conditions aside, this is a gorgeous place to cross country ski. Mill Creek running up on side side, and you pass several campsites, bathrooms, and picnic areas on your way up the canyon. Blue skies, dense trees, and a gorgeous canyon as you work your way up. 

- - - - - - - To wrap it up - - - - - - - 

One of my favorite things about cross country skiing, was the fact that it was a FULL body workout.  Arms, legs, abs, everyone is invited to the party.  You can get in this great workout, while being outside with your dog, without breaking the bank.

On the same note, it is absolutely nothing like downhill skiing.  Your skis are so thin that your boot is wider than the skis.  And let me remind you, you have no edges.  Stopping is quite the challenge, and your only saving grace is to pizza down the decline until you can stop yourself.  Balance is key, as with these thin skis, one second you are sking and the next you can be on your butt.  Treat these two sports as entirely different, and becuase you are the worlds best downhill skier, do not assume the same will be true for cross country.  

Have a blast and see you on the trails. 

- - - - - - - Helpful Links - - - - - - - 

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  1. One of my favorite activities with Charlie! - Alicia @

  2. Thank you for posting this. I have a dog and was hoping there would be some xc ski trails. We are moving to SLC in mid March and hope to get out then. Anything I can do with my dog I am interested in. Kelly

  3. Hello! Thanks for reading! Check out my Utah page at the top, I have a TON of dog friendly events hikes and activities listed!

    Hope you love SLC as much as I did ! Feel free to reach out with any questions.


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