11 Must-Ski Trail Systems in the Thompson Okanagan

When the snow flies in the Thompson-Okanagan region, plenty of great locations can be found to strap on cross-country skis or snowshoes and enjoy the winter weather. There’s nothing like stopping in the quiet solitude of the forest along a ski trail. Depending on where you head, cross-country skiers can be on the trails as early as mid-November and as late as March. Here are a few of our favorite places to play in the white stuff in the cold weather!

Belle Mountain Ski Trails

Traversing through a mix of wooded and open areas, the Belle Mountain area offers over 20 km (12.5 mi) of trails groomed for classic skiing and snowshoeing while nearby, Dore Valley also offers some ungroomed trails. The trailhead is found by following Highway 16, 8 km to the Belle Mountain Road then a further 5 km to the parking lot and warm up cabin.

Photo via: mcbride.ca

Big Bar (Clinton) Cross-Country Trails

Found 6 km down the Big Bar Road, a well-maintained network of approximately 25 km (15.5 mi) of groomed trails and a further 15 km (9.3 mi) of backcountry trails can be found. The trails lead through the forest and even offer views of the Mable Range. Snowshoeing is also possible. There are maps as well as six shelters with fire pits and outhouses scattered throughout the system.

Photo via: Thompson Okanagan BC Backroad Mapbook

Bonanza Pass Ski Trails

Located 30 km east of Christina Lake, the Friends of Bonanza Pass have developed an ungroomed trail network through the rugged backcountry found here. Over 30 km (18.6 mi) of trails, all named after constellations, along with two warming shelters run through the area which also makes use of the Iron Creek Road and West Bonanza Road for the Orion Loop. A parking lot is located off Highway 3 at the Bonanza Pass.

Photo via: Western Canada Backroad GPS Maps

Kane Valley Cross-Country Trails

The beautiful Kane Valley is home to a well-established 50 km (30 mi) trail system, open from December through March. The trails travel through open timber and sloping meadows and are best suited to classic skiing. Easier terrain is found around the second of the six trailheads, while the trails around the perimeter offer a more challenging ski.

Photo via experiencenicolavalley.com

Larch Hills Ski Trails

Located on Edgar Road east of Salmon Arm, Larch Hills has over 150 km (94 mi) of ski trails to explore (43 km of the trails are groomed and 98 km are ungroomed). The trail system follows a network of old and new logging roads, and there are several chalets and shelters. Snowshoers will find marked trails and the ski area has a dog-friendly trail.

Photo via skilarchhills.ca

Manning Park

The Manning Park Cross-Country Ski Trails weave up and down the rolling forested hills around Lightning Lake with 64 km (40 mi) of groomed trails, including 17 km (10.5 mi) of skate skiing trails. A further 160 km (99 mi) of backcountry trails are available for those wishing to cut their own path, including a 3 km (1.9 mi) ski to the end of Lightning Lake and some serious climbs up to the ridge of the Three Brothers (to the north of the highway).  Elevation gains on the ski trails range from 60 to 760 m (200 to 2,490 ft). Snowshoers will find over 30 km (18.6 mi) of snowshoe trails.

Photo via manningpark.com 

McCulloch Cross-Country Trails

The Kelowna Nordic Ski Club maintains about 75 km (47 mi) of cross-country trails and 75 km (47 mi) of snowshoe trails in the McCulloch/Hydraulic Lake area. 23 km (14 mi) of the ski trails are dog-friendly, as are all of the snowshoe trails. To get here, take Highway 33 from Kelowna and look for the turn-off just over 6 km past the Big White Road.

Photo via: Western Canada Backroad GPS Maps

Nickel Plate & Okanagan Valley Ski Trails

Accessed via the Hedley Nickel Plate Road, the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre is home to 46 km (29 mi) of trails set for skate and classic skiing along with 24 km (15 mi) of snowshoe trails. Additionally, the user-maintained Okanagan Vista trails are found nearby and are shared with snowmobilers, with loops running north and south from the parking area. It is possible to access the backcountry around Apex Mountain via this trail network.

Photo via: Thompson Okanagan BC Backroad Mapbook

Sovereign Lake Ski Area

This trail system is one of the premier ski areas in Canada and offers 50 km (31 mi) of groomed cross-country ski trails with a series of short loop trails (up to 5.5 km long) dissecting the beautiful subalpine meadows of the area. It is also possible to link up with the Silver Star and Trinity-Ricardo Trail networks, offering over 100 km (62 mi) of groomed trails, or to explore 20 km (12.5 mi) of snowshoe trails.

Stake Lake & Lac Le Jeune Trails

There are over 60 km (37 mi) of classic and skate cross-country trails found to the south of Stake Lake. These include 3.7 km lit for night skiing, 5 km of dog-friendly trails and 12 km of snowshoe trails. Trails connect with those around Lac Le Jeune, which are ungroomed and feature some long, steep climbs. A local favorite is the 8 km (5 mi) Gus Johnson Trail which circles the lake, but there are over 73 km (45 mi) of trails and old roads to explore in total.

Photo via: Western Canada Backroad GPS Maps

Wells Gray Park

Located near the main gate to Wells Gray Park are 50 km (30 mi) of well-maintained trails for all levels of classic style skiers maintained by Helmken Falls. The Murtle River Nordic Trails offer another 85 km (53 mi) of groomed trails which are maintained by the Wells Gray Outdoor Club. Adding to the mix, most of the summer hiking trails become winter snowshoe trails and the park offers fantastic backcountry skiing, with a well-established series of backcountry huts between Battle Creek and Trophy Mountain.

Photo via skihike.com 

You can find all of these ski areas and more in our Thompson Okanagan Backroad Mapbook and British Columbia GPS Maps!

Did we miss your favourite Trails? Let us know in the comments below or share your best adventure photos with us on Instagram using #brmblife for a chance to be featured on our feed and win prizes.