Etiquette on the XC Ski Trails

For the most part cross-country skiers are awesome…but every once in a while we encounter a skier who isn’t aware of etiquette on the cross-country tracks, or just doesn’t care. As part of our cross-country ski series we’re diving into etiquette on the trails, whether they are groomed or ungroomed.

Etiquette on the Ski Trails

Rule #1: Be nice to other skiers.

  • Faster skiers and skiers on the downhill have the right of way. If you that’s you, it’s good to politely call out “track,” “hup,” or my favorite method “on your left,” or “on your right” to warn those ahead that you’re coming. One of the cool things about skiing is that beginners and Olympians often share the same trails. With that comes different skill levels and speeds and the need for increased communication.

Rule #2: Be nice to the trails.

  • It’s hard work maintaining and grooming ski trails. In a lot of communities this task falls on volunteers making it important to keep the trails nice.
  • We love dogs but leave that dog at home if your ski area doesn’t allow them or if the tracks are soft. If you do ski with a dog try to keep it under control. You wouldn’t want the dog chasing other skiers or knocking over old people and toddlers. And please, if the pooch drops a deuce or takes a leak on the trail do your best to clean it up.
  • We all fall, if you fall and leave a few massive dents on the trails or “sitz marks” be sure to fill them in and try to ‘cover your ass’…marks with snow.
  • Pack out any garbage.
  • Try not to walk or snowshoe on groomed trails, especially in classic tracks. If you do have to walk or snowshoe, walk as far to the side of the trail as possible. If you’re skating, try to avoid the classic tracks, don’t be that jerk who skates in them.

Rule #3: Go the right way on designated one-way trails.

  • Sometimes we get tired of skiing the same trails over and over again and it’s tempting to ski a one-way trail the opposite way for a change of scenery. But, there’s a reason the trail is one-way so try to ski the trail the right direction. In most cases trails are set up like this to avoid collisions with other skiers on a gnarly downhill or other obstacles.

Rule #4: Stop in safe places.

  • Cross-country skiing is hard work and we all need to stop sometimes to sip some water, apply more kick wax or calm a crying little ski baby. If you do stop along the trail, get as far off to the side as possible to allow others to ski past. Try pushing it up and over a hill and stopping once you’re done gliding on the downhill side to avoid annoying Saturday morning top-of-the hill gridlock.

Many ski areas have their own rules, and we’ve just covered the basic’s here. One of the coolest things about cross-country skiing is the diversity in ages, techniques and skill level on the trails and as a result it’s important to respect others on the trails and respect the trails.


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