Back to Nature: Nordic skiing night or day in BC's Cariboo region
The sport of Nordic skiing captured British Columbians by heart last winter and is well poised for continued enjoyment this winter. The secret’s out – with tons of space to distance, endless groomed trails, and a new pace of skiing that is less intimidating than downhill and more cost-effective, cross-country skiing is what everybody is talking about. Perhaps by now, you’ve ventured to your local Nordic centres and are looking to switch it up. If Nordic skiing tourism wasn’t a thing before, it is now, and we have just the places for your next Nordic adventure – welcome to the Cariboo’s 100 Mile Nordics & the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club at Bull Mountain.
BC’s Cariboo region starts just north of Lillooet in the Fraser Valley. If you’re travelling from the Lower Mainland, this is up the scenic Fraser Valley via Highway 1 and then 97. If you’re coming from the Sea to Sky Highway, it’s a gorgeous drive through Whistler and Pemberton (and you will notice traffic dissipate after Whistler as you leave the crowds behind in the Coast Mountains). Whichever way you choose, 100 Mile Nordics is roughly 5 hours from Vancouver, 4 hours from Kelowna, and 2 hours from Kamloops. Bull Mountain, home to the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club, is 1 hour and 20 minutes further north from 100 Mile House.
What to expect
Nordic skiing has become a favourite among many because it offers a quiet reconnection with nature in the winter that can’t be found on crowded ski slopes. It’s accessible, affordable, and easy to learn.
Nordic skiing in BC’s Cariboo region offers a break from the busy mountains that are close to urban centres. This is a place where winter wildlife roams freely. From the resident fox at 100 Mile Nordics to singing birds and, if you’re lucky, a bobcat or lynx. Cariboo trails are truly immersed in nature. 100 Mile Nordics welcomes visitors to explore the 45 kilometres (28 mi) of groomed trails and 2.5 kilometres of LED-lit trails while Bull Mountain features 28 kilometres (17 mi) of trails in the daytime and 3.5 kilometres of trails lit at night. Bull Mountain also has 5 kilometres of dog trails to snowshoe and cross-country ski with your pooch!
At 100 Mile Nordics, there are two cabins to visit and explore out on the trails while a warm, cozy lodge welcomes visitors from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm and until 10 pm on Wednesdays. Whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned professional, 100 Mile Nordics has programming and rentals available for all skill levels. Bringing a youngster along? Rent a chariot to pull behind you on the trail so that nobody is left behind looking after the little ones.
The lodge at 100 Mile Nordics is everything you’d expect from a mountain escape. A cozy timber lodge with a crackling fire serves up hot drinks and food and makes for a great warm place to warm up in between laps. This is also where you’ll find rentals and helpful staff or volunteers to guide you in the right direction for your day on the trails. You may also purchase your day pass or rentals online for a contactless transaction.
At the time of writing, Bull Mountain’s indoor facilities are for essential and emergency use only. However, the facility advertises that their gate is always open so if you plan to ski past 10 pm, just bring a headlamp! Rentals for this facility can be found at Caribou Ski in Williams Lake.
While exploring Bull Mountain or 100 Mile Nordics, change out the cross-country skis for snowshoes and stomp through the forest on the snowshoe trails as well. Snowshoe rentals are available at 100 Mile Nordics and offer a great way to add some variety to your winter adventures.
Accommodations & winter activities
The Fishing Highway 24 in BC’s Land of Hidden Waters region is an ideal basecamp for 100 Mile Nordics. Countless lakes that provide fishing and recreation opportunities in the summertime freeze over and become private pond hockey and skating rinks, as well as prime ice fishing spots in the winter. As the nearby home to Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club, Williams Lake makes for a fantastic place to spend a night or two in between Nordic laps and exploring the Cariboo and Chilcotin regions.
Guided ice fishing adventures are available throughout the Fishing Highway region and if you own snowshoes, be sure to check out the Bridge Lake Ice Caves trail. Likewise, if you own cross-country skis, trailblaze the vast expanse of frozen lakes and safely find your own route. Accommodation options across the Fishing Highway range from lakeside lodges and B&B’s, to private log cabins with kitchenettes also located beside their own skating rinks. Staying in a cozy cabin out here is equally part of the experience as the outdoor adventures themselves!
Be sure to plan ahead, always have winter tires, and check DriveBC before heading out on the roads. For more information on responsible travel in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region, check out this guide.
This story was facilitated through BC Nordics via Canada’s Western Ski Areas Association in partnership with Destination British Columbia.