The Course

The race course is machine-groomed with skating lanes and double tracks the entire 26 kilometers (~16.2 miles). Please make sure to respect the striders tracks if you are skating. You can run or walk the course, but snowshoes are required (skis are highly recommended, however – this is a ski race!).

The Great Ski Race takes place on multi-use trails in the Tahoe National Forest and THERE WILL BE snowmobiles on the course during the race and they have as much right and privilege to be there as we skiers do. Please treat them with respect, just as they treat you, and understand that the concessionaires who run the snowmobile tours are local, small business owners who have helped Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue immensely in the past.

Soup Station

sSoup2There is 1 stop (Soup Station 1, around kilometer 12.4) on the race course that will have snacks and drinks available (included in race cost); you should take along enough additional snacks or drinks to satisfy whatever requirements you have for a 1-7 hour adventure.

Soup Station 1 will be shut down and dismantled at 12:30.

At 12:30 the course will be swept in both directions by Nordic Ski Patrol. Patrol 1 will turn around any skiers still coming up toward Soup Station 1 and follow them back to the start line. Patrol 2 will follow the last skiers en route to the finish line on the second half of the course.

Course Map & Profile

The 26 kilometer (~16.2 miles) course begins at the Tahoe Cross Country Center in Tahoe City, climbs out of the Tahoe Basin over Starratt Pass, and then heads east on the 74 road (Fiberboard Fwy) to 4 Corners, where you will turn down the 73 road back to Carnelian Bay and onto the Blue Trail at Tahoe Cross Country Center. The race course covers magnificent terrain and offers spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada.

Click the “Open in CalTopo” box to open the map in a new browser tab.

The first part of the course travels the rolling trails of Tahoe Cross Country, gently rising in elevation until meeting up with the “Fiberboard Freeway,” a logging road that leads up to the zenith of the course, around 11 kilometers into the event. The rest of the race is mostly downhill, but don’t let that fool you. There is still a long way to go, and for the top competitors, there’s no rest for the weary as they duke it out on the downhills, flats, and the few uphills that are still in store for them.


What kind of shape should I be in for such a race? This race is a test of endurance and skill; be sure you are in good shape so you can enjoy the course. Due to the length (26 kilometers, ~16.2 miles) and remoteness of the course beginners are not advised to enter; but skiers of all abilities and ages do enter this fun and challenging race.

Where can I go to get some practice cross country skiing in? Your best bet is to visit and ski at the Tahoe Cross Country center, where the race starts and finishes. Not only can you practice your nordic skiing, but you can ski the start (the first 5km) of the race course as well as the end (the last 3km). Every Tuesday you can purchase a reduced $29 day ticket, too.

Can I rent some equipment for the race? Your best bet is to contact the Tahoe Cross Country ski area.

Can I use flourocarbon was on my skis?  In the interest of public and environmental health The Great Ski Race is a flourocarbon wax-free race.  Please DO NOT wax your skis with anything containing flourocarbons. If this is unclear please reach out to the Tahoe Cross Country Center.

Is this really a race? Whether or not you are truly racing is up to you…

Can I race with my dog? Out of consideration for all the race participants, please make other arrangements for your pets. Thanks!