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Snowed In: Prince George’s Best Cross-Country Secret

Adventure, Winter

You don’t have to take just our word for it – talk to any club member, and they will tell you that Caledonia Nordic Ski Club (often referred to as Otway by locals) is one of the best things about Prince George! With over 55km of fresh trails and impressive sports resume from the 2019 World Para Nordics and 2015 Canada Winter Games, Caledonia Nordic Ski Club is the perfect blend of top performance facilities for professional athletes and leisure sports enthusiasts.

More often than not, it is one of the reasons why local athletes and nordic sports lovers choose to stay and live here. Yes – we’re not joking, it really is that awesome!

Why? For locals and vacationers, it’s only a short 10 minute drive from almost anywhere in the city. Even this close to the urban centre, skiing on the trails feels like you’re far removed from the city.  The vast network of trails take you through pristine local forests, and  rewarding views overlooking our beautiful Nechako River valley. With no vistas of civilization, you truly get to step away and immerse yourself in nature.


Our lodge boasts an ‘anti-resort’ feel, with no long lines, expensive lodge fees or paid parking. The building is large and has a casual cozy charm locals and visitors fall in love with – equipped with all the amenities you need.

The top-level of the lodge acts as an informal meeting ground and a great view point for the stadium. The large windows and a spacious deck overlooking the stadium area let’s you keep tabs on the skiing action. You might even notice the newfangled yellow snow-making cannons too!  These cannons are recent additions, and now allow the club to make snow, enabling an earlier, and longer, ski season (last season folks were skiing well into April).
 
Gear up! In the lower half of the lodge, you’ll find a fully equipped shop and retail space for day passes, season passes and of course, equipment rentals from skate skis or classic skis, snowshoes, chariots and even a sit-ski. Skiers needing to apply glide wax to their skis will find a wax room located next to the rental shop.  Irons are offered at no charge, to melt wax onto skis.

Once your gear is on, the stadium area is flat and spacious. This allows new skiers a safe area to get comfortable. If needed, the friendly staff will guide you on the appropriate trails for your skill level. With a balanced mix of trail difficulties, many are suitable for complete beginners and novices, so you’re sure to jump on a run in no time. New skiers will enjoy the flat trails found along the valley bottom, which we recommend testing out before heading further into the hill. More advanced skiers will appreciate the turns and hills found on the runs uptop Cranbrook Hill. Trails are marked similar to downhill skiing trails – green/beginner; blue/intermediate; black/advanced.

Oh, and remember how we mentioned snowshoes? There’s specific snowshoe trails (used by mountain bikers in the summer) that also leave from the lodge and can take you deep into the forest.

Families are often surprised that they can bring their dogs!  Caledonia Nordic Ski Club offers specific dog-friendly trails, (about 8 km worth), where your canine pal can run alongside as you ski.  These trails are separate from, but connected to, the main trail system with a specific parking lot located 400 metres prior to the main lot. All skiers are welcome on these trails, but dogs certainly steal the show!

One of the best resources the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club offers is a daily Grooming Report. Located on their website, trail groomers give morning reports on the condition of the trails, and updates on what trails have been groomed. Trails are typically set with classic tracks on one or both sides, with a lane for skate skiers in the centre.

A pleasant place for families to gather is the Rotary Terrain Park.  Located about 400 metres from the lodge, the Terrain Park is an old gravel pit, with a loop trail, and small, but adventurous hills to practice on.  Plus, there is a fire pit to cozy up to, roast marshmallows and toast hotdogs! Parents can safely socialize while watching their children play around the Terrain Park.

With short winter days, activities are not limited to daylight, but make no mistake, as darkness falls, lights turn on and illuminate the night. The stadium and about 10km of trail are lit until 9:00 pm! Some evenings, snow crystals possess a specific quality to bend the lights’ beams. On those nights, it appears as if you are skiing amidst a tunnel of twinkling diamonds.

For those preferring a more “natural” experience, unlit trails are available too.  Headlamps assist skiers in the dark, but on clear, moonlit nights, switch off the headlamp for a light-free, celestial experience – with only the moon’s reflection illuminating the snow-covered trees and trails, and a star-studded night above.

While you may come for the skiing, there are many more cool north activities and adventures to be had in Prince George. Another one of the most beloved is the Outdoor Ice OvalBritish Columbia Magazine named it in the top ten of B.C.’s awesome outdoor rinks! Located at Exhibition Park, the Outdoor Oval is a 400-metre Olympic size track – using natural ice, skaters will need to bring their own skates, and admission is only $2/person, and $5/families.

Winter hikers, dog walkers, snowshoers, and fat bikers can explore one of the 100 city parks covering 1500 acres in our urban centre.  Some of the local favourites are Forests for the World (located behind the University of Northern BC), the Pidherny Recreation Site, and the 30km Centennial Connector Trail Loop. Trail maps are situated at the trailheads and the variety of trails offer opportunities for urban folks with various skill and confidence levels to unplug and immerse themselves in nature.

Following a healthy outing on the trails, folks have many tantalizing options for tasty aprés-activities, including indulging in our locally made flavours at the northernmost fruit winery in Canada and two winning breweries. For grub, consider a trip to the downtown core which offers a multitude of locally-owned restaurants, sourcing farm to fork ingredients and salt of the earth atmospheres.

We offer any traveller a soft landing. For those looking to be located in town, a host of hotels, B&Bs and niche accommodation providers offer a variety of amenities including pools, waterslides and a casino to round out the apres-ski experience. For pure convenience, the closest accommodations to Caledonia Nordic Ski Club are bed & breakfasts Arbor Suite and The Grateful Bed


Be bold and discover the basecamp to the North; a city that flourishes in nature and owns winter. 

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