Cruise the Contours, See the Sights Along BC’s Cross-Country Tracks

Posted Friday, December 18, 2015

Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, Thompson Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Coast & Mountains, Whistler, Ski & Snow Sport

In BC, slipping into skinny skis promises a self-propelled sojourn, embraced by Mother Nature’s quiet calm. Here follows a few local tracks worthy of exploration.

Adventurers can click in at Mount Washington Alpine Resort, where more than 688 hectares (1,700 acres) of cruise-worthy trails weave through old-growth forest. The Vancouver Island destination’s Raven Lodge and Nordic Centre draw enthusiasts to Strathcona Provincial Park, a striking expanse that showcases 55 kilometres (34 miles) of machine-groomed cross-country trails through open meadows and unspoiled forest. Alternatively, enthusiasts can take in the landscape at a different pace, and slide into snowshoes for a satisfying crunch into the woods.

On the mainland, Callaghan Country excels in cool-climate adventure, thanks to 47 kilometres (29 miles) of track-set trails designed for classic technique and light Nordic ski touring. Situated 20 minutes south of Whistler Village, Callaghan Country accommodates all comers: a Skinny Mini orientation to the sport is ideal for newbies; families can indulge in track time for everyone when outfitted with child-style chariots (or sled pulls); and Fido can come too, courtesy of a trail system designed for the click and glide alongside man's best friend. To break away from the pack, keeners can opt for an 8.5-kilometre (5.2-mile) snowcat shuttle to pristine Callaghan Lake, where ski touring is defined by untracked powder and quiet landscapes. Overnights? Callaghan's Journeyman Lodge offers eight guest rooms, a convivial lounge and hearty menus.  

Dakota Ridge Recreation, a short hop, skip and a ferry ride from West Vancouver, is home to 20 kilometres (12 miles) of track-set cross-country ski trails (classic and skate) and eight easy-does-it kilometres (five miles) of snowshoe trails, all backed by stands of old-growth forest and open subalpine. As a bonus, this Sunshine Coast destination boasts volunteer trail hosts who gamely patrol the area on weekends and provide the skinny on trail knowledge and safety. For those eager for more personalized exploration, Alpha Adventures, based in Wilson Creek near Sechelt, will navigate through the wilds, offering stellar views of the Coast Mountains and neighbouring Vancouver Island.; 

For a change of pace, enthusiasts can discover BC’s cowboy country further northeast near Clinton. Here, along the area’s Big Bar Ski Trails, just north of town, cruises through the contours wind alongside pretty forest trails packed with snow. Options include soft glides along 25 kilometres (15 miles) of groomed track or adrenalin-inducing propels through an additional 25 kilometres (15 miles) of un-groomed backcountry trails — all areas managed deftly by volunteers. Excursions promise rosy-cheeked results, and may even reward with a camera-ready peek at resident deer and moose.

More than 105 kilometres (65 miles) of cross-country track provides the pull at SilverStar Mountain Resort and nearby Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre, northeast of Vernon. Boasting Canada’s largest daily groomed trail network and some of the most consistent snow conditions in the province, this interconnected trail system is a favourite training ground for both the Canadian and USA National Cross Country and Biathlon teams. It's not hard to see why: lift-accessed upper trails, three warming huts, eye-popping views, plus specialized camps and events all quicken the pace. Add meticulous grooming, top-notch facilities and ski-in, ski-out accommodation to the mix, and devotees have the makings of an exhilarating, self-propelled adventure.


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