Hit The Trails in Cranbrook BC
As the temperature drops and the champagne powder dusts the ground, a new world emerges around Cranbrook. Fields of grass and wildflowers are replaced with the glistening sparkle of snow. Trees become enveloped in a cozy white blanket, and the trails transition from fall dirt to a winter wonderland, just waiting for you to explore.
Whether you prefer the satisfying crunch of snow compacting under your snowshoes, the graceful glide of your Nordic skis on a groomed track, or the thrill of pedalling a fat bike under the canopy of a snow-covered forest, the opportunities to get outdoors in the winter around Cranbrook are never-ending.
What makes Cranbrook a fantastic place for winter exploration is the variety of landscapes available in the area. Within 20 minutes of town, you could be cruising around a frozen lake, standing atop a lookout with expansive 360-degree views, or exploring the undergrowth of the second-growth forest. If you’re willing to venture just a little further, the peaks of the Rockies or the wetlands of the Columbia River Valley await.
While the options are limitless, here are three iconic locations close to town worth exploring this winter.
Cranbrook Community Forest – With over 100km of trails weaving through stands of Douglas Firs right on the edge of Cranbrook, the Cranbrook Community Forest is one of the region’s crown jewels. In the winter, 23km of single track is groomed for fat bike enthusiasts, while snowshoers and walkers are free to explore the remaining trails to their heart’s content.
Take the short but steep hike up to the old fire lookout on Eager Hill for an up-close view of Fisher Peak. On a clear day, the vista extends down the Rocky Mountain Trench past Columbia Lake. The trail is usually well packed from regular traffic, meaning snowshoes may not be needed. Microspikes can be helpful on slippery days.
For cross country skiers, the place to go is the South Star Recreation Trails, located at the south end of the city. 25km of trails are groomed for classic and skate skiing, providing both novice and advanced skiers opportunities to practice and perfect their technique. If you prefer snowshoeing, designated snowshoe routes meander through the facility. Or, hop on a fat bike and tour the Kinnikinnick loop, an 8km circumnavigation of the recreation area.
For the best effort-to-reward ratio in the Cranbrook area, take a 15-minute drive north and step out into the wide-open grasslands of the Wycliffe Buttes. This 2km hike follows a well-trodden path to the top of a rocky butte, where 360-degree views of mountains and valleys await. If you’re an early bird, there’s no better spot to watch the sun cresting the Rocky Mountains to the East. Behind you, the warm rays of the sun coat the white canvas of the Purcells. After a fresh snowfall, snowshoes are helpful for this hike. Otherwise, the trail is usually well packed from local hikers, and only boots and/or microspikes are needed.
About the Author
Mark is a filmmaker, photographer and writer based in Kimberley, BC. An avid traveller throughout the Kootenays and abroad, he enjoys exploring the natural world, camera in hand, seeking out compelling stories. He’s often found deep in the backcountry, running, climbing or on skis, challenging himself to discover new scenes and viewpoints.
Get ready to hit the trails in Cranbrook, get the right gear to make your adventure not only more enjoyable but safe as well. The following shops are some of the local shops to visit for winter gear!