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Where to ride is a tough decision these days in Prince George.
While trying to decide what trails to ride one day, my riding partner and I mutually commented that there were almost too many choices. Although not a bad thing, I will admit I have a difficult time riding all our local trails in a given season. Prince George has multiple areas to ride, with levels to suit all abilities and interests. Otway has added close to one new trail every year for the past 5 years and I am almost certain the Pidherny Recreation Area has exceeded that.
Along with the growth of our trails, is the growth of the riders. People ask me all the time why I think there has been such a huge growth. My answer is simple and always the same: because it’s fun! As a mountain bike instructor, I coached about 40 brand new riders this past season. When I say “brand new”, I mean people who have never ridden on dirt before. Some of these people literally bring their fresh new bike to the lesson and have not even ridden it yet. And the best part is seeing their smiles when we are finished!
For a beginner starting out, the best place to visit would be Otway. These trails are located in the midst the Otway Nordic Center ski trails on Otway Road and are all single-track trails. There are 2 full green trails, many blue rated options with a few black mixed in for a lot of variety. For a beginner, I recommended doing a loop of Home Run and Tin Can Alley. If you have a little more experience but questionable fitness, take Home Run-Inside Passage-Midway-Karma; and yes, there are maps posted at all the major junctions making navigation a breeze. If you are more experienced and like a good workout, get yourself up to the Doghouse via Curves-Espresso or Karma-Twister-ACDC, all great climbs. You can do a couple loops up top including Java, Cyclone and Cross Cut to easily fill an hour and a half. If you like “old school” technical riding, check out Tree Hugger and Adams! Otway has something for everyone, even some fun little air time opportunities on Cyclone and Tornado Alley.
Pidherny is generally considered a little more advanced than Otway, only because it has some steeper/ technical sections that are not as easily avoidable. If you are a beginner rider, I would suggest parking at the top parking lot on Foothills Blvd., which is directly across from Vellencher Road. A beginner option would be to take the green Foothill Access trail all the way to the Ten Dollar/Flow Job trailheads. Both Ten Dollar and Flow Job are blue rated, but do-able for a beginner; just ride slower your first time so you don’t accidently get air on some bumps or roots. Both these trails take you down to the mid-way point of Pidherny, where you can do repeated loops going back up Ten Dollar. Note that Ten Dollar is the only two-way trail to get you back to the access trail, so caution when going both directions. I would not recommend going much further down if you are a beginner, because you still need to get back to your vehicle at the top. Some people will park a vehicle at the bottom and shuttle up to avoid the climb back out.
If your skill level suits some steeper descents, start with the blue access trail from the top parking lot all the way to the start of Papa Woods. You can then take any of the trails from here including Papa Woods, Carcass and Dixie noting that all have Technical Trail Features (TTF’s), most with ride arounds. If it’s your first time down one of these, ride with caution and check out the features first before attempting them. You can also descend the more advanced Valve Job or New England Clam Chowder (NECC), which both come off the blue access trail before you reach the Papa Woods trail-head. These will pop you out on a quad trail; hang a right, then a left, bringing you down to the start of Ditch Pig, which will take you a little further down. If you need to get back to the top parking lot, you can head back up to the road and then up Ten Dollar and along either access trail. Or you can plan to shuttle and avoid the climb.
Pidherny also has some extremely challenging technical cross country loops that are better accessed from the lower parking lot, and are located on both sides of Pidherny Road. These include Climb It, Pulaski, Front Porch, McLeod on the east side of the road as well as Gus’ Grind, GXC, Peanut Butter, Big Ass Hill, Sidewinder and Ridge XC on the west side. Don’t say I didn’t warn you that most of these have advanced technical sections and some challenging climbs! Note that the east side trails are currently not on the Pidherny Recreation Site trail map, as they are out the previous boundary; this includes the bottom of Valve Job and NECC. The future map will have these east side trails as the boundary has been extended. I highly recommend you have a map on hand as there are currently no trail maps posted within the trail network, only in the parking lots. Even with a map; however, you may still get a little lost. If getting lost if not your thing, I recommend you try to ride with someone local who knows the trails.
Be sure to bring water with you and maybe even a small snack. Also, a spare tube or patch kit, tire levers and a pump may prevent a “less fun” walk out. You can access links to trail maps and other local cycling information at www.pgcyclingclub.ca. Stay safe and have fun!!
PMBI Level 1 Instructor
Fem Bike BC
Perhaps because the outdoors are so beautiful and impressive here, or because sports culture and facilities are so exceptional, many people might not think of Prince George as British Columbia’s northern arts capital. Having made a life in the arts here, I can tell you confidently that it is just that, and I’m always excited to share with visitors and locals alike why I think so. The opportunities to experience and engage with professional and community arts here are hugely outsized for a regional centre.
The Prince George Symphony Orchestra is Canada’s northernmost professional orchestra, and one of the longest continuously operating professional orchestras in Canada. (Full disclosure: I am thrilled to be the PGSO’s General Manager). Every year, the PGSO hosts outstanding guest soloists from all over the country and indeed the world, but what’s really amazing is our local musicians. The orchestra has a core of highly-trained professional musicians who lead sections made up of a combination of local pro freelancers and skilled volunteers (and a few freelancers flown in from other centres to supplement key roles). All the PGSO’s professional musicians are involved in the arts community in multiple other ways; many are the music teachers who form the next generation of local talent, and all play in other musical ensembles and settings.
Theatre North West has had one of the highest per-capita subscription rates of any professional theatre company in Canada. (Full disclosure: I used to be TNW’s Marketing and Development Officer). As a member of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, TNW hires professional actors, designers, and theatre artists from all over the country, creating its own teams and productions from absolute scratch every single production. I’ve often heard remarks to the effect that people are amazed that the quality at Theatre North West matches what’s available in major centres—but it should come as no surprise, not least given that TNW brings you literally the same individuals you would see onstage in those very cities, here united around a northern heart beating at the creative centre. What also surprises people all over this country is that Prince George is not just a town with a theatre, it’s truly a theatre town, whose support for TNW rivals the support shown to any professional theatre in Canada.
Two Rivers Gallery curatorial insight, exacting conservation standards, and inviting community outreach bring the city not just beautiful art of the highest quality, but lively aesthetic and intellectual challenges. I must especially applaud their commission of “Balance” by Peter Von Tiesenhausen, which stands right outside their front doors, and which is a thought-provoking and superlative sculpture that I think could be a serious contender for the next Mr. PG.
Judy Russell and Enchainement Productions bring us incredible dance and musical theatre opportunities that invite comparisons to all-professional productions. (Full disclosure: the PGSO is about to undertake its biannual collaboration with Judy’s dance company on their production of The Nutcracker; so excited!). This past summer, the Sound of Music was heard by an impressive succession of packed houses at the PG Playhouse, and I’m sure Evil Dead: The Musical will be this fall as well, before they launch into The Nutcracker just in time for Christmas.
As a winter city, it’s perfectly apt that ColdSnap!, our folk and popular music festival, livens up our winter with some of the best Canadian and international artists around, up close and personal in intimate venues around town. I would be remiss not to mention the contribution some of our most stalwart arts venues have made—and not just the big ones like the CN Centre and Civic Centre. Books & Company, Nancy O’s, Groop Gallery, the University of Northern British Columbia, the Exploration Place, the Prince George Public Library, and the College of New Caledonia all provide a home not just to music and visual art, but also to Prince George’s thriving literary arts scene. We are home to a range of brilliant and widely recognized local writers, especially poets, to the degree that no less a luminary than Toronto publisher and poet Jay MillAr called Prince George “the secret poetry capital of Canada.”
With all the amazing talent we have working on both the creative and management sides, and with the inspiring level of support the community provides to its artists and arts institutions, I am so glad to be a part of the city’s forward momentum in the arts. I’m hopeful that the national recognition and community pride stirred by the Canada Winter Games will continue to bring out the best in us, and without a doubt, it’s the arts’ turn to take centre stage in our city.
#takeonpg Yoga at Connaught Hill Park with Sufey Chen.
Anyone with a pup knows that our four-legged friends quickly become an important member of the family and it’s great to bring them along on family vacations. As nice as it is for them to not be separated from the family, travel can be tough on them. With this in mind, I like to know where to stop to let them have a good run and take in some fresh air (among other dog-attracting smells), rather than random stops on the side of the highway. Prince George has some great open spaces where dogs are free to roam.
Ginter’s Field, named for the man whose grand house once sat at the top (but is now just leftover rock walls and stairs), is a beautiful space of field and trees right in town. Park in the gravel lot at the top of Massey Drive, just west of Ospika Blvd. and let the dogs run free in the large field or go for a bit of a hike. Trails run up to the old house ruins, which offers a nice view, and you can even continue climbing up the hill all the way to UNBC for a bit more exercise. The pups will like it either way!
Tucked away off of Foothills Blvd., between Ospika Blvd. and First Avenue is a huge expanse of woods and meadow that is a real treat for people and dogs alike. Trails connect to the meadow from many directions (Foothills and the residential areas surrounding it), but once inside the wooded area, you can easily forget you’re in city limits. The trails are all leashed areas, but as soon as you hit the open area of the meadow, dogs that are under control can run free. This is a surprisingly big area, great for walking or jogging with your pup. Keep in mind that although you’re in the city, it’s still very wooded, so do be mindful of wildlife encounters and how that may affect your canine friend. On my most recent visit to the meadow, I saw a fox bouncing through the grass; I do suggest carrying bear spray, just in case!
If your pup loves freedom, but requires a bit more containment, the fenced-in dog area at Duchess Park is a great fit. With two fenced areas (one for small dogs and one for large), dogs can meet some friends and burn off their pent up energy. Located on Ross Crescent, in the Prince George bowl, the park also features a large accessible playground and bike park, perfect for entertaining the kids while the dogs have their own fun. Pack a lunch or grab something from the nearby Parkwood Mall to make for an enjoyable afternoon with the whole family.
Tourism Prince George is excited to announce a new event series for our sport stakeholders: the SportPG Speaker Series! These informal training and networking events will be a great opportunity to learn about a topic at the heart of sport hosting from a local expert, network with fellow sport stakeholders, and enjoy some tasty food and drink, all courtesy of Tourism Prince George. Mark your calendars and register today, you don't want to miss out!
Four evening sessions are planned to be held in the Kin 1 Lounge on Tuesday evenings throughout 2016. Click on the links below for additional information.
Each attendee will be entered into a draw to win a FREE registration at the 2017 CSTA's Sport Events Congress in Ottawa in Marcy 2017! The more SportPG Speaker Series events you attend, the more you'll be entered to win. Click here for more information on Sport Events Congress.
Camping near Prince George is something everyone should experience. Whether you’re looking for a full hook up site, or a remote bush camping experience, the options are endless. Although there are far too many great locations to cover in a short article, I will highlight three of my favourites. These three locations share one main trait – awe inspiring beauty.
Purden Lake is one of the more popular destinations around Prince George for camping. It has everything from a georgeous lake for fishing and swimming, to a hiking trail system where you’re bound to see spectacular views or even some of the resident wildlife.
Located 64km east of Prince George, this location is ideal for a night’s stay if you’re just passing through, or are looking for somewhere to stay for an extended visit. The campground features 78 sites, of which 12 are tent only sites. Reservations are available online to secure your favorite spot in advance, but for the last minute traveler, there are also first come, first serve spots available.
Whiskers Point Provincial Park
Even though this location is a little bit further from Prince George, Whiskers Point Provincial Park should not be overlooked. Located approximately 100km north from the outskirts of the city, this is an ideal location for people heading north on towards the Alaska Highway.
This park is equipped with everything from horseshoe pits to volleyball nets and is sure to have something suitable for the whole family. One of the best parts though, is the sheltered sandy beach – the perfect place for a mid-day swim, or just relaxing in the sun.
There are 59 sites available at this campground with running water in the facilities nearby. Similar to Purden Lake, there are both reservation as well as first come first serve sites available.
Rec Sites near Francis Lake
For the campers looking to enjoy a more rustic, remote setting, there are rec sites scattered throughout the area. One of the most beautiful areas to enjoy is the rec sites near Francis Lake, which is located roughly 40 kilometers south east of Prince George.
Not only is there a great rec site at Francis Lake, but there are also 8 other rec sites in the area to choose from – most of which, are also waterfront on the shores of other nearby lakes and rivers.
These rec sites are located in remote areas and are strictly on a first come first serve basis, so be sure to have a back-up plan in place in the event that they are full upon your arrival. These sites have no services, but there is endless opportunity for the ATV enthusiast or outdoors person to be able to go right from the front door of your tent or trailer.
Although these three locations don’t even begin to touch on the amount of camping opportunity in the area, no matter what the type of amenities you’re searching for, you will be able to find just the place near Prince George. Trailers, tents, full hook up, or remote – you name it, you’ll find it.
Copyright N. Trehearne 2015
Prince George is surrounded by an abundance of luscious forests that are home to many trails,. These trails are maintained by the province, among other parties, and are accessible to the general public to enjoy. These day-hikes vary from Easy to Difficult, and many have the opportunity to become overnight trips. Four well-known Moderate hikes near Prince George are: Teapot Mountain, Fort George Canyon, Raven Lake and Grizzly Den.
There are many types of user groups that want to explore the outdoors. The top 3 accessible trails (trails designed with Boomers, wheelchairs, families and the general public in the forefront of the planning process) in Prince George are: GWL Mobility Trail, The Ancient Forest and Forests for the World.
The Ancient Forest
Dawn Kealing Travel Writer, Life, Love and Adventure
In 2015 Prince George celebrated our 100-year anniversary as a City site. We have compiled our culture and the Prince George Heritage Commission created a web page for Prince George’s centennial called 100 Iconic Prince George People, Places and Objects. Hosted by The Exploration Place Museum, the page can be viewed at: http://www.theexplorationplace.com/pg100/100-prince- george-icons
Our top 5 cultural picks are:
Little Prince Steam Engine
The Little Prince Steam engine arrived in 1912 on a sternwheeler. The wood-burning Dinky engine was used to help build the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, now operated by CN. It runs on a 2.2 kilometre long track in the Park near The Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre in Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park. The train runs from the May long weekend to the Labour Day long weekend weather permitting. You can also enjoy hard ice cream sold in the train station. Check with the Exploration Place, 250 562-1612 for operating hours or visit: http://www.theexplorationplace.com/
Prince George Fire Department sled
This horse-drawn sleigh was used by the Prince George Fire Department from 1918 to 1928 to haul fire hoses and other firefighting equipment. It was manufactured in Winnipeg – similar models were used by fire departments across Canada. The sleigh and other fire equipment from the past can be seen at the Central B.C. Railway and Forestry Museum, open year ‘round at 850 River Road Road near Cottonwood Island Park. The Prince George fire department celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2015, which was also the 100th birthday of the City of Prince George.
Thousands of years ago, as glacial ice sheets melted and formed the Nechako and Fraser Rivers, the steep sandy slopes known as the cut banks were formed. They have long been a Prince George landmark inspiring artists and photographers. The cut banks were the site of North America’s only ski race on sand, called Sandblast. First held in 1972, the race attracted participants from all over the world, including Canadian ski champions. It was discontinued in 2004 after three people were hurt while trying to navigate the course on a couch rather than skis. High on the cutbanks in McMillan Creek Park, hikers and picnickers enjoy walking trails, interpretive signs, and spectacular viewpoints overlooking Cottonwood Island Park and the City.
The Northern Hardware and Furniture store on the corner of Third Avenue and Brunswick Street downtown was founded in 1919. A room upstairs houses artifacts including the first vacuum the store sold (a manual bellows) that same year.Originally on George Street, the business has been at its current location since 1940. It is the oldest family-owned business in Prince George, still run by the Moffat family. The store’s motto: If we don’t have it you don’t need it!
Bridget Moran statue
The plaque next to this unique statue of Bridget Moran, 1923-1999, describes how the prominent social worker, activist and author worked tirelessly to support families in the region. The sculpture was created by artist Nathan Scott and is located at 3rd Avenue and Quebec Street downtown. Scott also created the statue of Terry Fox found in the Community Foundation Park at 7th Avenue and Dominion Street.
Article submitted by Jeff Elder Cultural Coordinator
Regional District of Fraser-Fort George
The Northern Lights truly are Mother Nature's beautiful creation. Living in Northern British Columbia in Prince George we have the privilege of experiencing her beautiful dancing Aurora Borealis. This gorgeous performance in the night sky can be seen all year round with the proper tracking. This blog will discuss and answer a few frequent questions on how to see and photograph the beautiful Northern Lights.
Before discussing the best way to view and photograph the Northern Lights, many people want to know what the Northern Lights are and how they are created. After some brief research I discovered they are the result of many collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere and charged particles released from the sun's atmosphere. The many, many variations in colour in the Northern Lights are due to the type of gas particles that are reacting with each other. The most common auroral color, a pale yellowish-green. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 322km (200 miles). Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora. The Northern Lights can be seen in many different shapes and forms, ranging from patchy or scattered clouds of lights, to beautiful rippling curtains or shooting rays of light illuminating the sky with and eerie mysterious glow.
Another pair of common questions is: what is the best location for viewing the Northern Lights? and when is the best time? As a photographer I'm always searching for the next best location, but for anyone trying to view or take pictures of the Northern Lights I would strongly suggest a quick drive out of the city. Prince George has light pollution which can make viewing the Northern Lights difficult and less vibrant; it's not impossible but you need a much stronger solar storm for city viewing. A quick drive in any direction out of the city at one of our beautiful lakes would be the best suggestion (Nukko Lake, West Lake, Shane Lake, Tabor Lake, Bednesti Lake, or Purden Lake).
As for the best time, there really isn't one. My suggestions would be to Google an Aurora group and join one that has free email subscriptions for Yellow and Red Alerts. I combine an Email Notification, an iPhone Aurora app with Notification, and many Facebook groups with all sorts of Notifications. To chase the Aurora properly, I have found one must exhaust all options.
To successfully photograph the Northern Lights all you need is a camera and tripod, For a successful night shot you need your camera to be on a sturdy object. Secondly you need a camera; preferably a DSLR camera and some Smart Cameras with the ability to control your Shutter Speed to a minimum of 5-10 seconds. Normally I will zoom my camera out so I can see as much as the night sky as possible, (24-120mm I would use 24mm) For night shots I use between 10-20 seconds for my Shutter Time. Why 10 seconds? You want the camera to let as much light in as possible. This is why you drive away from the light pollution of the city.
It is also important to carefully select your ISO. I normally start off at 800 ISO, if it's too dark then bring your ISO up and vise versa. An easy set up guide for starting is: lowest focal length, 10-20 Seconds, and 800 ISO. Adjusting all the settings for the perfect shot is different every night and every location.
The number one tip I will give everyone is to always have fun and enjoy what you’re doing on your night adventure, regardless of whether you’re taking photos or not. Mother Nature can be tricky sometimes. Don't give up if you’re unsuccessful on your first try. Most photographers will visit the same spot 5-10 times before achieving the photo they want.
Thanks again for your time and reading my blog on the Northern Lights.
If you want to follow any of my recent work, you can find me on Facebook at K.Foot Photography and Instagram @kfootphotography.
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