Story by Tricia Edgar
Vacay.ca Outdoors Columnist
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — The first frost of the season has touched the rooftops, and on top of Vancouver’s mountains the first dusting of snow has come. If you’re on your way up to Whistler, check out the Vancouver snow scene along the way. If you’re visiting Vancouver and you’d like to try your hand at winter sports, the local mountains have a variety of activities for the casual winter tourist to the more adventurous and serious boarders and skiers.
Grouse Mountain Ski Deals
On clear days, you can see the city and the forests that surround it from Grouse Mountain’s famous gondola, the Grouse Mountain Skyride. Stop for hot chocolate at the top and look out onto the snow, or get busy snowshoeing, snowboarding, or downhill skiing. In the winter, Grouse also boasts an outdoor skating rink: a relative rarity in Vancouver’s warmer winter weather. For those with limited mobility, Grouse is a good choice, as the Skyride is accessible.
Feeling adventurous? Check out the mountain’s zip-lining adventures that help you soar over Vancouver vistas. Want to take in the atmosphere? Grouse has several options for casual dining, including Lupins Café and the Grouse Grind Coffee Bar.
Unique Winter Attraction: In addition to ski, snowboard and snowshoe trails, Grouse puts on a great Christmas show. Beginning November 24, children large and small can visit The Peak of Christmas to chat with Santa, listen to choirs and learn about real reindeer.
Mount Seymour: Ski and Snowboard Adventures
Seymour is known for its snowboarding, downhill skiing, and snowshoeing trails, and this year the resort is debuting a new high-speed chair, the Mystery Peak Express. If you prefer to sit and slide, Mount Seymour offers several tubing and tobogganing runs. Slide down the hill in an inner tube and get pulled back up! For smaller children or avid walkers, try out one of the tobogganing areas as well.
Unique Winter Attraction: Walk around lakes and through quiet mountain forests on a guided snowshoeing hike. Themes include Winter Workout, Navigate Nature, Winter Survival, and a fabulous Chocolate Fondue hike. Chocolate and snow — what could be better? Custom tours are also available.
Cypress Mountain Ready for Ski Season
Four terrain parks for snowboards to play in, and many alpine trails to ski on. Cypress is a magnet for both the alpine and Nordic crowds.
For kids, there’s a magic carpet ski lift, an easy-to-access lift that makes it simpler for children to learn how to ski. The resort is also installing a ski carousel this year to help the smallest skiiers learn how to stay steady on the snow.
Not into racing down hills? In nearby Hollyburn, cross-country skiers can enjoy 19 kilometres of trails. Snowshoe trails crisscross these trails as well, and all of the Nordic enjoyment culminates in the cozy Hollyburn Lodge, where you can enjoy a hot chocolate and look out at the falling snow.
Unique Winter Attraction: This year, the Patio Park at Cypress features an airbag to help riders practice their jumps.
Time to Hit the Slopes in Vancouver
If you’re a nervous beginner, all of Vancouver’s mountains offer packages for adults and kids who are new to the slopes. Equipment rentals are also available. Find your snow legs with a short lesson or a series that will get you skiiing or boarding. For a workout that doesn’t involve quite as much sliding, snowshoeing is a quiet option that allows you to explore the alpine forests in the winter months.
For the quintessential Vancouver moment, begin your day at Jericho, Kits Beach, or Ambleside and take a winter walk, then head up the mountains for some snow play. Looking down on Vancouver’s forests and inlets from one of its peaks, you’ll see why Vancouver, despite its warm temperatures, is a beacon for winter sport.