sunshine on snowy lake with skier

Cross Quetico Lakes Ski Tour: a Quetico tradition for skiers

Today’s post comes from Chris Stromberg, a backcountry operations specialist at Quetico Provincial Park.

Quetico Provincial Park is known globally among the canoeing enthusiasts for its connecting lakes and waterways, undeveloped landscape and road-less, non-mechanized travel.

In winter, Quetico becomes very quiet. The occasional ice fishers, snowshoers, or skiers will likely witness far more animal tracks than signs of humans.

In the late winter, however, Aitkokan’s local ski club, The Beaten Path Nordic Trails, hosts a unique event that creates a pattern of ski tracks across the frozen backcountry canoe routes of Quetico Provincial Park.

An annual event in March

The Cross Quetico Lakes Tour is scheduled each year for mid to late March in hopes of the ideal spring crust skiing for an all-day multi-lake adventure.

skier at Quetico
Often, conditions allow for a choice of skate skiing or classic

Those ideal conditions don’t always happen and since this tour is in the backcountry and not on groomed ski trails. Whatever Mother Nature dishes out is what the skiers will deal with.

Out-of-town visitors

For out-of-town visitors, tour coordinator Chris Stromberg suggests bringing several ski equipment choices, if you have them. There have been a couple tours when the snow has been shin-deep, and traditional skiing was the only option.

skier on lake
A thick dump of snow in 2013 turned the ski tour into an old-time trail-breaking adventure

Snow conditions

skiers at Quetico
Skiers feeling the spring sun and removing their morning jackets

Annually, most tours have been ideal for both skate or traditional skiing; 2019’s tour was one of those ideal years.

Participants were accompanied by a nice southwest wind on their back, and firm crusted over lakes that made for effortless glide.

The warm spring sun had skiers peeling off extra clothes before noon.

It’s a traditional ski tour

man holding fish on lake
A participant brings in a Lake Trout during the lunch break on Pickerel Lake

The Cross Quetico Lakes Tour is not a race. It doesn’t include numbered bibs, stopwatches, or someone to hand out sports drink as you ski by.

Participants pack a lunch and drinks for a full day of skiing with occasional stops and gather together for snack breaks.

It is a tour in the true meaning, and returns skiers to the roots of cross-country skiing over ungroomed frozen lakes and portages. What other ski tour do you know of where a participant can catch a fish while others enjoy coffee and brunch around an open fire?

Quetico is an enchanting place in the winter

skiers beside cliff at Quetico
Skiers along the shoreline cliffs of Batchewaung Bay

Intrigued? Be sure to join us and plan to ski the canoe routes of Quetico in 2020!

Join in on the all-day challenging adventure with a fun group of skiers during the Cross Quetico Lakes Tour.

skiers sittingo n ground

To see a clip from the 2015 event, check out this video from Chris Evavold – Black River Photography: Cross Quetico Lakes Tour 2015. Find a map of the route and pictures from past events here: TravelTheHeart.

For more information about the tour, contact Chris Stromberg at 1-807-598-1074 or