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When it comes to locations for winter activity around Prince George, especially snowshoeing, the possibilities are endless. With a maze of trails that can be accessed both within the city limits, as well as in the surrounding areas, it can be difficult to choose the best place to hit the trail.
There are both private and public options for snowshoeing venues nearby. The most popular option for a private venue is the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club. This is a non-profit organization, but there is fees to use their trails.
As far as the public options go, although there are many, there is three main trails (or trail systems) that come to mind when I think of great locations to get out in nature.
Eskers Provincial Park
Eskers is a great beginner / intermediate location for snowshoeing near Prince George. With 15 kilometers of marked trails, you can do anything from a quick 20 minute walk with the kids, to an all day excursion, exploring all of the trails that Eskers offers.
The trails weave through the numerous lakes and marshes that make up the park. Often in this pristine habitat, you will even be lucky enough to come across some of the local wildlife such as grouse or moose. While snowshoeing is one of the highlights of winter in this particular park, there is no track setting.
Crooked River Provincial Park
This park can be found north of Prince George, just south of Bear Lake. While in the summertime this park consists of a popular campground, during the winter the gates are closed at the highway. Luckily, this is part of what makes it great for snowshoeing! Not only is there marked trails throughout the park, but you can also embark down any of the road systems that navigate throughout.
For shorter ventures, the bear lake trail around the main lake is quite popular, but if you are ambitious and feeling up for a bit longer jaunt, the square lake trail takes on a large loop which then joins up with the crooked river trail to take you back to the main (bear) lake.
Similar to Eskers there is no track setting in this park as well, although this is also a popular destination so it is usually not an issue.
Viking ridge is, by far, the most technical of the three locations. This should only be considered my advanced people since it is a very steep trail and takes you above treeline on to a mountain ridge.
The views that you obtain on this trail are second to none. You can see a full 360 degree view of all the surrounding, low lying, areas. The trail starts with a steep ascent through the forest which takes you to an open meadow. From there, you climb higher to a small lake, and then finally on to the ridge.
The Viking ridge trail is not track set, and although there is flagging on the way up to help you navigate, it is not recommended for unexperienced outdoors people.
For both Eskers and Crooked River, detailed trail maps can be found online at the BC Parks website (www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks). For Viking ridge, information can be obtained through the Caledonia Ramblers website (www.caledoniaramblers.ca).
Whether you choose to embark on a venture to one of these locations, or just find one on your own, you are sure to experience nature at its finest around Prince George. After all, is there such a thing as a bad day when you are in the great outdoors with snowshoes strapped to your feet?
Copyright N. Trehearne 2015
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