Story by Tricia Edgar
VANCOUVER — To many Canadians, it’s the reality of winter: snow, and lots of it. But to Vancouverites, this snow thing is more like a whim of nature. Sometimes it snows in the city, and sometimes it doesn’t. Vancouver folk prefer that the white stuff be kept on top of the mountains. The gentle climate of Vancouver has led to the city’s famed mountain-beach-city combo. Play on the mountains, then head to the beach at sunset for a latte from a local café.
No skis? No snowboard? No problem. You can experience the gentler side of Vancouver’s winter on the local mountains, even if you don’t want to hurtle down the side of one. If you’re visiting the West Coast, you don’t need to trek very far to experience the joy of winter, Vancouver-style.
On Vancouver’s wet coast, the snow can be a bit more elusive. It’s there, but it’s more of a destination. One of the most amazing rides to see the snow begins on Grouse Mountain, which calls itself The Peak of Vancouver. During the Christmas season, the resort boasts reindeer and a sleigh ride as well as seasonal events. As always, one of the highlights is getting there via a tram trip up the mountain.
Moving Into Quiet: Snowshoeing
One of the fastest-growing sports among the non-daredevil crowd is snowshoeing. This quiet activity takes you off into the forest, far from the crowds lining up at the lifts.
On Grouse, the snowshoeing trails wind across a pond. There’s even a snowshoe version of the world-famous Grouse Grind. While the original Grind follows a gruelling summer path, this one takes you closer to the peak on a snowshoe trail. Those who feel less ambitious can simply enjoy a walk in the forest, and the snowshoe routes quickly take you away from the hub of activity in the centre of Grouse.
On Cypress Mountain’s Hollyburn snowshoe trails, follow the paths up to a café, where cross-country skiiers and snowshoers congregate for a hot chocolate before heading back down the mountain.
Chocolate. Snow. Ah, yes. On Mount Seymour, enjoy special snowshoeing events on New Year’s Eve and beyond. Those events involve chocolate fondue, snowshoeing and the romance of a quiet walk in the forest.
Family Madness: Toboganning
For the non-skier, Mount Seymour offers several tobogganing areas that begin near the parking lot before the ski hill. Yes, it’s paid tobogganing, but the hills are nicely groomed and if you forgot to bring your toboggan in your luggage, you can rent a tube. On a clear day, you can sit on top of the mountain and see Washington state’s Mount Baker in the distance as you slip slide your way down.
Sleeping in the Forest
If you want to go far, far off the beaten track, Mount Seymour also has a winter group campground that is maintained by BC Parks. It’s available for rent, so if you’re bringing a group and want to try a night of camping in the snow, this is the place to do it — a mere 20 minutes from the closest grocery store.
Like the elusive Sasquatch, the idea of snow play in the rainforest seems like it’s just not quite possible. But it is, and both snow and play are available in spades in the Vancouver area, even if you’re not keen to ski or snowboard.
MAP WITH DIRECTIONS TO GROUSE MOUNTAIN FROM VANCOUVER
View Larger Map