There are three Ski Resorts in the Northwest BC Region:
- Murray Ridge Ski Hill, Fort St. James
- Hudson Bay Mountain Resort, Smithers
- Shames Mountain Ski Area, Terrace
In a land where winter lasts for what seems like most of the year, winter recreation is a necessity. There are more snowmobiles here than you would imagine possible, and cross-country snowmobiling is far and away the most popular winter pastime. In the winter, lakes and rivers freeze, creating level playgrounds for cross-country skiers. During winter, ice can freeze 4 feet thick or more. Be careful when skiing on frozen surfaces, especially rivers, where moving water does not freeze as solidly as lake water does. Check with locals for ice conditions before heading out.
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Murray Ridge Ski Hill and Vanderhoof Area
Murray Ridge Ski Hill in Northwest BC is open to downhill skiers and snowboarders, it’s known for great powder and sunny days, and the resort boasts the longest T-bar in North America (6,500 feet/1,980 m). Prime downhill skiing and 12 miles (20 km) of cross country trails attractive winter enthusiasts. In February, the ski hill hosts the Great Bathtub Race, with an emphasis on fun rather than competition. If you’re in the area when the race is on, make sure you check out Murray Ridge Ski Hill, located 6 miles (10 km) north of Fort St. James, northwest of Prince George.
There are numerous cross-country trails around Vanderhoof. The Nechako Valley Sporting Association maintains some of the trails in this area, including 19 miles (30 km) of groomed trail at Waterlily Lake, located north Vanderhoof off Hwy 16 on Sturgeon Point Road.
Hudson Bay Mountain Resort and the Bulkley and Skeena River Valleys
There aren’t many big ski hills in the region, so downhill skiers and snowboarders must travel some distance to find the steep stuff. Hudson Bay Mountain Resort offers plenty of light, dry powder for downhill skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing on Hudson Bay Mountain in the Bulkley Valley of Northwest British Columbia. Formerly known as Ski & Ride Smithers, Hudson Bay Mountain Resort is located 8 miles (12 km) west of Smithers in Northwest BC, between Prince George and Prince Rupert. Access is via Ski Hill Road.
Hudson Bay Mountain is the biggest hill in the area, with excellent powder skiing that’s been enjoyed by locals since the 1920s, when the Smithers Ski Club began clearing runs. In 1980, the Smithers Ski Corporation was created to promote the mountain. The ski area has complete facilities for alpine skiing and snowboarding, including a triple chairlift and two T-bars that service 1,750 feet (525 m) of vertical rise and 24 runs. In good conditions, it is possible to ski up the south ridge close to the summit of Hudson Bay Mountain (8,300 feet/2,530 m). By traversing the prairie in a northeasterly direction, it is feasible to ski or hike back to Smithers via Simpson Creek Road, or you can travel in a westerly direction to join with the top end of Duthie Mine Road. These routes are for experienced, equipped skiers only.
Cross-country skiing is also popular in the Smithers area. The Pine Creek Cross-Country Ski Trails and Chris Dahlie Cross-Country Ski Trails in the scenic Smithers Community Forest provide two sets of groomed trails of varying levels, accessed on the Hudson Bay Mountain Road. Tyhee Lake Provincial Park, and a dozen other areas offer Nordic skiing in fine, dry, powder snow near Smithers.
Babine Mountains Provincial Park, 9 miles (15 km) east of Smithers off Hwy 16, has an extensive system of trails open to skiers and snowshoers. A popular overnighting destination is the Silver King Cabin, just over 8 miles (13.5 km) down the trail, but there are many routes in this area. Because this is mountain backcountry skiing, there is the danger of avalanches. Take the appropriate precautions.
On the east side of the valley in the Babine Mountains Provincial Recreational Area, cross-country routes from trailheads along Driftwood Road east of Hwy 16 lead to Driftwood Canyon, Silver King Basin, and Harvey Mountain. Skiers follow an old mining road in Silver King Basin for almost 7 miles (11 km) to reach the subalpine region. The Silver King Cabin is located about 8 miles (13.5 km) from the trailhead. There’s room for about 12 people to overnight in the cabin on a first-come basis. If you like to be on your own in the outdoors, with the chance to spot a diminutive northern pygmy owl (one of the few owls that hunt by day), this is the perfect winter getaway in the ‘great white north.’
The Morice Mountain Ski Trails, in the Silverthorne Lake area of the Houston Community Forest, are track-set by the volunteer Morice Mountain Nordic Club. There is about 24.5 miles (40 km) of well-signed, groomed trails. There is also a 5.5-mile (9-km) trek along unmaintained trails to an overnight cabin just below the tree line on the slopes of Morice Mountain, a starting point for excursions into the alpine. The cabin is free to members and a nominal fee for non-members; it must be booked in advance through. The trails are southwest of Houston on Buck Flats Road.
The Omineca Cross-Country Ski Trails, 4 miles (6.5 km) south of Burns Lake on Hwy 35, consist of 15 miles (25 km) of groomed trails. There are also many, many ungroomed trails, such as hiking trails, that are open to cross-country skiers.
Shames Mountain Ski Area and the Terrace Area
Shames Mountain in the Coastal Mountain range of British Columbia is one of North America’s best kept secrets, known for its great views and more snow than any other lift-served ski area in North America! Enjoy the massive amounts of snow without the lineups or crowds! Shames allows skiers and snowboarders easy access to an amazing backcountry environment If you like tree skiing, steeps, big mountains or just powder, Shames has it all!
The first year that Shames Mountain Ski Area was opened, it had to close. Seems they weren’t expecting quite so much snow: the top of the ski lift got snowed under. Shames Mountain boasts the most accumulated snow of any ski hill in North America (but just try telling that to Mount Baker Ski Area in Washington state). Fifteen runs accommodate skiers of all levels on a vertical rise of 1,705 feet (520 m), and the ski resort offers equipment rental, multilevel ski lessons, snowboard lessons, a double chairlift, T-bar, and handle-tow services. Shames Mountain is located in the Shames Valley of Northwest BC, 13 km off Highway 16, between Terrace and Prince Rupert. From Terrace, travel about 12 miles (20 km) west of on Hwy 16, then 9 miles (14 km) north on Shames Road.