Nipika-Cross River trails named best in Canada
By Steve Hubrecht
Columbia Valley skiers boast—and with good reason—of the quality of the cross-country trails here. Well, it turns out that opinion is shared across the continent: A USA Today poll earlier this winter named the Nipika Mountain Resort-Cross River Canyon Recreation Site’s Nordic Trails the best in Canada and eighth best in North America.
USA Today published its rankings in a top 10 cross-country skiing destination list released in December. Getting nominated for the list, let alone the top 10, is no easy feat. The Cross Country Ski Area Association (CCSAA), the largest trade association for Nordic ski resorts, uses a panel of cross-country skiing experts to select the top 20 Nominate places for cross-country skiing in North America. From this list of 20, USA Today then conducts a multi-week online opinion poll in which digital voters determine the top 10.
“For us as a mom and pop operation, it makes us proud to compete against the likes of Lake Placid and the Canmore Nordic Center and then beat them to get this ranking,” says Nipika Mountain Resort co-owner LyleWilson. said the pioneer.
The trails along the Nipika-Cross River have been attracting attention for some time, and have managed to squeeze into USA Today’s top 10 for the last three years. But this is the first time they’ve beaten all other Canadian Nordic ski resorts.
The award comes as Nipika celebrates its 40th birthdayth Anniversary of its trail system, which is the result of collaboration between the resort and Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC), a branch of the province’s Department of Environment and Climate Change.
Portions of the trails are on Nipika’s own property, but many are on the province-owned Cross River Canyon Recreation Site. Nipika maintains the entire network under an agreement that began in 1983.
“It all started with a 12-kilometer straight ski trail between Nipika and the natural bridge and Cross River Canyon,” explained Wilson. “Since then we’ve continued to expand it.”
The trail network now includes around 50km of designated cross-country trails, 40km of bold bike and snowshoe trails, and a further 70km of mixed-use recreational singletrack trails that attract hikers and trail runners in the summer. The largest single expansion occurred in 2000 when the network doubled in size with the addition of its southern section.
“We used to groom one slope with a single Skidoo and an old trail groomer. Now we have a fleet of state-of-the-art grooming equipment and six snowmobiles,” Wilson said. “It is a huge commitment to maintain the trail system, but very rewarding to have created a local mecca for cross-country skiing.”
Nipika and the Province signed a ten-year management agreement back in 1983 and is currently in its 10th yearth year of their fourth consecutive deal.
“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, excited to be recognized by USA Today, and hope to continue to expand,” said Wilson.
First place in USA Today’s list of the top 10 Nordic ski resorts went to Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Colorado. The only other Canadian cross-country resort besides Nipika to make the top 10 was Stokely Creek Lodge in Ontario, which was ninth on the list, just one spot behind Nipika.