Can you make great cross country ski tracks?

Laying Cross Country Ski Tracks

Cross Country Ski Classic Tracks with a wide trail for freestyle skating. This is the park ranger special.

Getting outside is a great way to do social distancing.  Cross-country skiing is a fun way to be outside. There is a saying that if you build it they will come.  This is very true of cross-country skiing.  Now maybe you just want your own cross-country ski trail.  If this is the case then having the right trail either way is the key to getting the trail used.  To make cross country skiing more fun you need to become good at laying cross country ski tracks.

There are a few tricks of the trade when it comes to laying out a course and putting in the cross country ski tracks.  I go over just a few of the things you may want to know.

How to groom cross country ski trails

Cross country ski trails are groomed by using specialized snow grooming machines such as the cross country ski track setter. These snow groomers have a set of grooming blades that are used to move, push, flatten the snow and or create a corduroy surface. The grooming machines also have two grooming blades that are used to create cross country skiing track, which basically are parallel lines that are often seen on cross country ski trails.

How to make a cross country ski trail

To make great cross country ski trails, there are several factors to consider. First, you need good quality snow, the one right after snowing or storm has the right amount of moisture and a consistent texture. This would ensure you have low to medium density snow left on the ski trail, which is the best snow for cross country skiing.

To make a cross country ski trail, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Choose one of your trails or a location with the right conditions for cross country skiing, such as a forested area with a good amount of snow and a variety of terrain.
  2. If you do not know your trail, it is best to mark out the trail using flags, stakes, or other markers, so you can avoid obstacles such as trees and rocks.
  3. Use a snow groomer to groom the snow on the trail and create a corduroy surface for skiing.
  4. It is preferable to Install signs along the trail to indicate direction of the trail and hard turns.
  5. Regularly maintain your cross country ski trail by snow grooming it throughout the ski season. This way you can ensure that it remains safe and enjoyable for skiers.

The right tools.

There are places on a course where you do not want the side by side tracks.  This is especially important when going up steeper hills as the tracks can really get in the way.  So if you are pulling a groomer or Trakor that lays the trail be sure and fill in the tracks left by your Trakor.  Otherwise, your work becomes a nuisance to the skier.  We have an attachment on our Track Setter or Trakors called a de trakor that can be used to take out the tracks in these specific places.  You can also use the wheels on your snow groomer / Trakor and pick up your Track laying tools and not set the tracks for the hill.


Another trick to the trade of Laying cross country ski tracks is knowing when to lay the tracks.  Right after storms can often be key.  Beating the skiers to the trail can be key.  If the snow gets an icy layer on top it can be very hard to set tracks.  You might have to wait for the snow to warm up and then laying tracks becomes easier.  If snow is a little slushy then laying tracks can be easy and when the slushy freezes there can be great tracks or sometimes a little too hard of tracks.

Cross Country Ski Tracks being laid.

groomed trail with ski tracks laid by a snowmobile.

Waiting for the right time to lay the tracks sometimes just does not work as you want to be skiing. Having a snow groomer that cuts up the snow can help if you have icy conditions.  Cutting up the icy snow allows tracks to be laid. Other snow conditions can hurt a cross country ski trail if you are having drifts. If you can cut the drifts or plow them out of the way, then the track can be much nicer.

Do not mess it up.

One of the things easy to mess up when laying a good cross country ski track is to make the corners too tight.  This makes it really hard on the skier.  Sometimes you cannot help this as trails sometimes just make tight turns or have a switchback that has to be tight because of how steep hills are.  If you can start corners wide and stay wide to make the corners reasonable.  When this is not possible you may want to make a step switch track where the skier will have to step out the track and into a new track.  This can be very tricky and also a very hard kind of track to lay.  Hopefully, your ski course does not have this issue.

The inventor of our snow groomers and trak setters is an expert in doing all the above.  He made it so that you can lay the course correctly, as he is just a huge cross country skier, and has done this for years and made sure you could handle all the cases needed.