Monday, February 12, 2024

Plan a Cross-Country Ski Getaway to Radium Hot Springs

Looking for a fun affordable winter ski getaway near Calgary? Radium Hot Springs has it ALL going on for a cross-country ski weekend with several different Nordic Centres and trail options nearby for every ability and skill level.

Radium Hot Springs has it ALL going on for cross-country ski getaways (Photo location: Nipika)

The Village of Radium Hot Springs is located in British Columbia, and is a 3-hour drive from Northwest Calgary via Kootenay National Park. It is easily reached Friday night for a short ski weekend or I recommend visiting for a long weekend if you really want to take advantage of the recreation opportunities available.

Below are the different options for skiing in the Columbia Valley with Radium hot Springs as your base camp. And if you scroll to the bottom, you'll find suggestions for accommodations. 

Also, further in this guide, I've provided suggestions for affordable one-night "power getaways" with two days of skiing and only one night of lodging required. (It's amazing how much skiing you can fit in to a short weekend.)

Nipika Mountain Resort is big on views with awesome Nordic ski trails

Skiing at Nipika Mountain Resort

Nipika Mountain Resort is located approximately 30 - 40 minutes north of Radium via Kootenay National Park and Settlers Road. We like to ski here on our drive back to Calgary, or it's a great day trip from Radium if you want to go to the hot springs afterwards.

"Nipika is a cross country skiing mecca with 50km of groomed trails. They are professionally groomed on a regular basis for both classic and skate skiing. The terrain ranges from beginner to expert and flows through treed areas, open spaces with mountain views, and alongside the Kootenay and Cross Rivers." - Nipika Mountain Resort

Skiing over the Natural Bridge at Nipika Mountain Resort 

And, if you have a dog, this is THE number one place you'll want to ski. The resort is very dog-friendly and well behaved dogs are allowed off leash on all trails.

If you don't have a dog, you'll still LOVE skiing here. Nipika is one of the best Nordic Centres we've skied at, and the trails are incredibly beautiful. We love skiing the north trails to the Natural Bridge, over to the Confluence Bridge, and back in a 12 km loop, visiting two warming huts along the way, both heated by wood burning stoves.

Note the Confluence bridge was not installed for the 2024 winter season. You can still ski to the river from either side, and cross the river using the Natural Bridge.

One of the warming huts at Nipika where you can start a fire and have lunch or snacks

Novice skiers will appreciate the easier south trails where the views are no less stunning. I like to ski the perimeter loop on this side for the viewpoints over the rivers. You'll also pass by one warming hut on this side which is a great place to have a snack or lunch break.

Trail fees apply to ski here and you can pay them when you arrive inside the main lodge. You can also rent skis, fat bikes, or snowshoes - and the resort maintains an extensive trail system with separate trails for all user groups. (And their fat bike trails are amazing if you want to try a new sport.)

You won't find beautiful ski trails like this too often!

Want to stay overnight? There are nine classic log cabins that sleep 4-13 people.  Guests also have access to a skating rink and sledding hill on site and receive complimentary trail fees.

Visit the Nipika website for trail conditions or follow them on social media for updates (You'll find them on both Facebook and Instagram.) - and they answer messages regularly if you're looking for overnight conditions.

Nipika has 9 cabins on site for ski getaways

Skiing at the Panorama Nordic Centre

Panorama Mountain Resort is a 30 minute drive from Radium via Invermere. You'll find parking outside the Nordic Centre at the Greywolf Golf Course. Inside the clubhouse you can pay your trail fees, get a map, and stock up on anything you might need from new gloves to ski wax. You can also rent skis and equipment.

And if you are visiting Panorama with a mixed group, you can access the Nordic ski trails from the main base area as well. The multi-use Valley Trail is groomed and trackset, and it starts from near the Toby Chair (Look for the big blue sign visible from the parking lot outside the Approach Hotel.)

The Valley Trail takes you from the main resort ski area to the Nordic Centre

Skiing under the Toby Chair to the Nordic Centre

"The Panorama Nordic Centre at Greywolf offers more than 20+ km of regularly groomed trails dedicated to cross-country skiing. Through forest and alongside Toby Creek, the cross-country specific trails provide an uncrowded experience in spectacular mountain scenery." - Panorama Nordic Centre

Starting from the golf course we like to ski up to the Hale Hut and back, an intermediate ski which visits two warming huts in approx. 7 km round trip. The Hale Hut is sometimes heated by a propane stove and makes for a great lunch spot. On warm days I like to eat outside on the beautiful covered deck.

Make sure you ask if the stove will be turned on at the Hale Hut before you start skiing on extremely cold days. I had to turn back once when I found out that the stove was broken on a -30 day. (On warm days it's not a big deal and you can still eat inside out of the wind.)

If you want to go further, ski the full Placer/Great Scott Trail out and back for approximately 18 km total distance.

The Hale Hut is a great place to warm up on cold days!

The Pentagon Hut is not heated, but offers a dry place to have lunch out of the wind

The trails are groomed daily and are great for both classic and skate skiing. Dogs are also allowed on all trails at Panorama, but you'll need to purchase a special $5 pooch pass if you want to ski with your pup.

Read the Dog use rules here if you plan to visit. 

There are also separate trails for hiking and fat biking (with fat bike and snowshoe rentals on site if you have non skiers with you.)

Ski trails do NOT allow foot or bike traffic and are for skiing only. Fortunately the multi use trails visit both huts, so you can meet up with non-skiers in your group at the huts.

There is a large multi-use trail network. Ski Trails do not allow foot traffic

Perfect grooming at Panorama 

Note that the ski trails at Panorama are not overly "novice-friendly" (in my opinion.) There is a large hill from the Nordic Centre that you'll have to ski down to reach the river, and then climb back up at the end. There's also a long climb involved to reach the Hale Hut.

This trail system is fabulous for intermediate skiers, but true beginners may want to try Nipika or try skiing on one of the Whiteways mentioned below.

Check the Nordic Pulse website for trail conditions.

And if you're looking for accommodations right at Panorama, check out the Approach Hotel which is conveniently located at the base area of the resort for both downhill or cross-country skiing. It's the perfect ski in/ski out basecamp.

Most trails at Panorama are quite hilly and best suited for intermediate skiers

Skiing on the Lake Lillian Whiteway and Junior Johnson Trail, Invermere

Invermere is a short 15 minute drive south of Radium, and there are a few options for skiing here.

The Toby Creek Nordic Club grooms and track sets several trails around the Columbia Valley including a loop on Lake Lillian outside Invermere and a loop on the Junior Johnson, a double track beginner mountain bike trail across the road from the lake.

Each loop is approximately 3 km in distance and you can ski both from the same parking lot. The Lake Lillian loop is 100% flat and great for novice skiers. The Junior Johnson Trail has a few short hills as the trail winds its way through the forest. 

The Junior Johnson loop is groomed and trackset for cross country skiing, and there is also a groomed loop for fat biking and hiking (without tracks.) We skied both loops when we were there for a total of about 5 km. 

Easy skiing on the Junior Johnson Loop outside Invermere

Users are requested to pay a $5 day use fee payable online here or in the cash box on the welcome sign.

There are no rentals available so bring your own equipment.

Check for conditions on the Nordic Pulse website.

I also like to check for updates on the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club Facebook page before heading out here because the Columbia Valley often has warm spells in the winter, forcing the club to close access to the lake loop due to unsafe conditions. The Junior Johnson is also only groomed and trackset when there is enough snow.

The Panorama Nordic Centre is the place to ski when it's been too warm to safely ski on a lake.

Easy family skiing on the Lake Lillian Whiteway

Skiing on the Lake Windermere Whiteway, Invermere

The Toby Creek Nordic Club also grooms and track sets a large loop around Lake Windermere. It's another easy option for beginner skiers and the loop is 100% flat. The same trail fees apply as above, $5 per day, and dogs are allowed to join you while you ski on either Whiteway.

"In 2014 the Lake Windermere Whiteway was named the world’s longest skating trail by Guinness World Records. At over 30km in length, this multi-use trail offers ice-skating as well as groomed skate and classic cross-country ski trails.
The Whiteway provides winter sports enthusiasts an incredible facility, adding to the already abundant list of winter activities available in the stunning Columbia Valley. It offers 2 access points: one at Kinsmen beach in Invermere and one at Windermere Beach." - Toby Creek Nordic Club

I've personally never skied on this lake but I've ice skated the loop many times. Access to the lake is either from Kinsman Beach in Invermere or from the public beach in Windermere.

Check for conditions on the Nordic Pulse website. And as mentioned above with Lake Lillian, check the Toby Creek Nordic social media accounts too for updates because warm weather can close Lake Windermere too.

The Lake Windermere Whiteway offers ice skating and cross-country skiing in winter

Recommended Accommodations in Radium Hot Springs

On my recent trip to Radium Hot Springs, we stayed at the Prestige Radium Hot Springs Resort. We had a one bedroom suite with king bed in the main room, jetted tub, and a separate bedroom/living room with a pull out sofa.

We loved our suite with the extra space we got to enjoy as a family. My husband and I watched cheesy sitcoms on the TV from our bed while our son hid out in his own room playing games on his I-pad. (Win win for all.)

One bedroom suite at the Prestige Resort in Radium Hot Springs

And our son definitely wanted to try out the jetted tub, so he put on his swim suit and settled in for a taste of the luxury lifestyle he'll never know at home where he has to make do with a shower.

Aside from our very comfortable room, we enjoyed the location of the Prestige Resort on the main street of the village. We were able to walk to restaurants and coffee shops without having to drive anywhere, and the quiet streets are lovely for a walk around town looking for wild turkeys and the sheep herd.

Our suite at the Prestige had a separate bedroom / living room with pull out sofa

Amenities at the Prestige include:

  • A selection of rooms starting with simple two bed hotel style rooms all the way up to kitchenette suites or family and executive suites with a separate bedroom

  • There is a mini fridge in each room

  • Select dog-friendly rooms

  • A large swimming pool and hot tub

  • A fitness centre for guests over the age of 19

  • Elevation Massage and Spa on site

  • A business centre with a computer and printer (and there is free WiFi at the hotel)

  • Seasonal sports equipment and board games free to borrow

  • Conrad Kain's Kitchen and Grill Restaurant on site open 7 days a week from 7:30am - 11:00pm 

  • The Don Agave adults-only Cantina is also located on site featuring Mexican food and drinks - and last time I ate here, we were able to order food from the Cantina menu in the family restaurant.

Swimming pool and  hot tub in the Prestige Resort for unwinding after a day of skiing

One-Night Power Getaways to Radium Hot Springs 

This has seriously become one of my family's favourite things to do each winter.

We drive to Radium on Saturday, stopping to ski on the way, we stay overnight in an affordable motel or hotel in town (Expedia is great for finding a good deal,) and then we spend Sunday skiing before driving home.

We try to keep things affordable, and so I pack lunch for Saturday, and we also bring a small cooler with us so that we can have breakfast in our hotel room Sunday. We sometimes pre-make sandwiches for Sunday as well, and bring lots of snack items, so the only meal we have to purchase is dinner Saturday night.

For the skiing, we like to drive out via Yoho National Park so we can ski at Emerald Lake. Then we drive to Radium via Golden. It adds a bit of distance, but it's a great way to spend a day skiing the trails in Yoho without the 4+ hour round trip drive from Calgary.

Gorgeous Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park

Then on Sunday we usually ski at Nipika on our way back to Calgary, making a loop with Kootenay National Park.

And we definitely fit a trip to the hot springs in there somewhere (usually after we arrive Saturday.)

Without Yoho, you could also ski Nipika on Saturday, and then ski at Panorama on Sunday before returning home. There are so many options for a short one-night trip with two ski days.

The Confluence Bridge at Nipika is always fun to ski across

Read more about Winter Adventures in the Columbia Valley

Winter is a magical place to explore in the Columbia Valley

Disclaimer: We were hosted at the Prestige Resort on our recent trip to Radium Hot Springs. As always, all words and opinions are my own along with all photography used in this story.

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

The Ultimate Group Backcountry Ski Weekend at Shadow Lake Lodge

Shadow Lake is one of my favourite places to visit in the Canadian Rockies with a gorgeous backcountry lodge located near the lake. Spending a weekend at the lodge breaks the trip up into two very reasonable ski or hiking days with a third day spent exploring around the beautiful lake.

Shadow Lake Lodge in backcountry Banff National Park

I was extremely fortunate to visit Shadow Lake Lodge  twice last year, and I was able to return to the lodge last month for an incredible ski getaway with a large group of friends.

Once again, I got to experience the luxury of going backpacking in the Canadian Rockies without a tent or sleeping bag, and I carried nothing other than my regular ski gear, lunch for the first day, and basic overnight items (PJs, toothbrush, etc.)

Waiting for me was my own private cabin at the lodge which I shared with a girlfriend, gourmet meals prepared by a chef on site, hot water + showers, and a comfortable bed to sleep in!

Gorgeous Shadow Lake, visited from the nearby backcountry lodge

Introduction to Shadow Lake Lodge

The Alpine Club of Canada maintains a large collection of backcountry huts, cabins, and shelters across Southern Alberta and BC, but Shadow Lake is their first luxury property offering private cabins and gourmet meals.

The lodge is situated in a beautiful meadow half a kilometre from Shadow Lake (easily visited on skis or snowshoes in the winter while spending the weekend at the lodge.)

Private cabins at Shadow Lake Lodge

All Inclusive Backcountry Stays at Shadow Lake 

Each stay at Shadow Lake Lodge includes afternoon tea when you arrive with an assortment of charcuterie items and hot beverages. A gourmet three course dinner is served later with a soup or salad appetizer, a main course entrée, and dessert.

Breakfast is served the next morning with fresh baking, granola, yogurt, fruit, and a hot entrée. Then a lunch is packed for your day's adventures with a sandwich on homemade bread and tasty snacks or cookies. (Guests custom order their sandwich choices at dinner each evening.)

Just one of the amazing meals we had at the lodge

Alcoholic beverages are not included with your stay, but the lodge has a large wine collection along with beer and other beverages available for purchase.

Note, the lodge tries to accommodate all dietary restrictions and allergies, and you'll be asked if you have any special concerns before your visit. There will always be a vegetarian option for lunch each day as well.

Read more about dining at the lodge here.

Evenings at Shadow Lake Lodge are very cozy and warm

Private Cabins, Showers, and Hot Water

Nothing says decadence in the backcountry like hot water and sleeping in a real bed off the ground! Take a hot shower when you arrive and enjoy a comfortable sleep in your own private heated cabin with two double or queen sized beds per cabin. (A couple of cabins also have king beds for a romantic getaway.)

There are no bathrooms in the cabins, but the heated bathroom cabin is a short walk away where you'll find toilets, sinks with hot water, and showers. 

Other than the private cabins, there are two shared cabins, one for meals, and one with a fireplace for common gathering. Come winter the shared fireplace cabin is a very cozy place and we enjoyed afternoon yoga sessions after skiing (yoga mats provided.) The cabin is also loaded with a variety of games and a large reading selection (books + outdoor magazines.)

No backcountry camping here! 

Overnight Stays at Shadow Lake Lodge

The lodge requires two night stays from their guests. In winter, the lodge is only open on weekends so guests ski or hike in on Friday, and then everybody leaves on Sunday morning.

All stays are based on double occupancy (so bring your partner or a friend) but most cabins can sleep up to four people with an additional add-on amount per person.

For information on rates at the lodgevisit the Shadow Lake website. And I encourage you to sign up for their newsletter where they promote their specials.

Easy winter travel to Shadow Lake Lodge with light overnight packs

Big Reasons to Plan a Group Getaway to Shadow Lake Lodge

For my recent trip to Shadow Lake Lodge, I managed to successfully gather enough adults from my ski group to book 8 cabins and it ended up being a very easy trip to organize and plan (and brilliantly fun with a lodge full of friends, new and old.)

Advantages to booking your next group trip at Shadow Lake Lodge:

1. No cooking required! 

Have you ever tried to organize shared meals with a large group? I have and it requires splitting people into cooking groups, figuring out dietary restrictions and how to accommodate those individuals, and then worrying about not having enough food or dealing with challenges when somebody drops the ball and forgets one of their ingredients (or underestimates how much pasta sauce or spaghetti to bring!) 

At Shadow Lake Lodge, there is a professional chef, and Ryan does everything!! You just show up and watch your pants get tighter with each meal. There's no prep work, no cooking, and no dishes! 

If you're going to leave the kids for the weekend, do it right, and leave the work too!

Afternoon tea at Shadow Lake Lodge

Gourmet meals are included with every stay at Shadow Lake Lodge

2. Separate cabins for privacy and quiet time. 

Not everybody is an extrovert, but Shadow Lake Lodge provides individual cabins so that the introverts in your group can retreat to their own space in the afternoon or evening to nap, read, or simply unwind. 

I wouldn't know what that's like since I was always in the shared cabins playing games, but we had several people in our group that preferred to have their own space.

Individual private cabins at Shadow Lake Lodge

3. An access trail for all abilities

We had different paces and abilities in our ski group, but we had split into small groups for the ski in/out, and non-skiers could have easily hiked in as well. The Redearth Creek Trail as a hike would be doable by anybody with an average fitness level. - And mixed groups can always ski or hike in separately, still spending the weekend together at the lodge and doing day trips together on Saturday.

Cross-country skiing to Shadow Lake Lodge on a wide groomed trail

4. Group bookings are easy peasy to make. 

There was no way I was putting 8 cabins on my credit card. Fortunately, I knew the lodge had many cabins available for the weekend, so I just announced the trip to a large ski group, and then I had everybody make their own booking. I played the job of matchmaker trying to pair singles for the trip, but I didn't have to deal with any of the actual booking logistics.

If you want to plan a group trip to the lodge, just send them an email and ask which weekend would have the most space. Then you'll know how many friends to round up. (I suggest doing it early in the season to grab the most availability.)

An easy group trip to Shadow Lake Lodge for 16 people

5. Stays at the lodge are extremely fun as a group! 

Meals are enjoyed as a large group in the dining cabin (you'll be arranged into table groups of 6-8 people,) afternoon tea is a big social event from 3-5pm each afternoon, and you can spend hours playing games in the cabin next door. (We even played dice and card games during afternoon tea in the dining room.) 

Skiing or hiking to the lake is also an easy half day adventure that anybody can do with a pair of snowshoes. My group tried to ski to the Ball Pass Junction and there was no shortage of laughter as we took turns pulling each other out of snow drifts after tumbles on the hills. We are definitely solid friends after that adventure!

We had fun skiing in and out of the lodge together

Ski touring around the lodge was fun with my girlfriends

6. The lodge is perfect for making new friends

I paired complete strangers for this trip who then carpooled and skied to the lodge together, and shared cabins! And then I watched strangers become best friends. I watched new friends laughing and enjoying incredible time together at each meal sharing stories and creating memories.

It was beautiful to watch and I know each person on my trip appreciated the opportunity to make new adventure partners. It's hard as parents to get away as a couple, so it's important to have friends to enjoy these trips with. And even if you don't have children, it's not always easy to find somebody who can take 3 days off work, responsibilities, life, etc. Group trips are great for creating new adventure groups.

Backcountry trips are perfect for expanding your adventure group

7. A trip to Shadow Lake Lodge is just challenging enough to push past your comfort zone. 

The trip to the lodge isn't "hard" but it's still 4 hours of skiing, all uphill! Even hiking in winter can be an undertaking if it's cold outside or one isn't used to snowshoeing.

Skiing to the lake requires navigating a narrow singletrack trail and for those new to ski touring, it will be a solid adventure! And even beyond the skiing or hiking, for many people this will be their first winter backcountry trip ever! It could even be their first overnight trip carrying a backpack.

Nobody comes away unchanged from a trip like this. People grow, they build resiliency, and they develop self confidence.

An adventure getaway has to be a little bit thrilling and challenging

The rewards are huge for a backcountry trip to Shadow Lake Lodge

Tips for planning a group trip to Shadow Lake Lodge 

As mentioned above, planning group trip to the lodge is quite easy, but there are a few things that worked well for me this time, or things I'd do differently next time.

  1. I created a Facebook messenger group to organize logistics such as carpooling and to discuss the trip (packing, questions people may have, etc.)

  2. I encouraged people to create small groups for the ski in because it would be hard to ski in a group of 15+ people.

    I would recommend that you encourage people to plan their groups carefully though. A person who hasn't skied in 3 years might not be a good travel companion for somebody who skis every weekend and prefers a faster pace. They can hang out at the lodge together, but they might want to ski in with others better suited to their pace and ability. - and it's easiest to carpool with those you'll ski with.

  3. Message the lodge ahead of time if you have people in your group that you want matched together for meals. Roommates will be placed together, but you may want to be seated with other close friends as well.

  4. We brought extra games that were personal favourites, but you really don't need to. The lodge has a large selection.

  5. We had a mixed group (mostly ladies, but also a mom/son team, and a couple looking to get away together.) This worked well, no complaints, but you may find it easier to have a theme to your group booking. Our trip felt more like a girls' weekend and I was hoping that our two men didn't feel out of place.
It was easy to find a group of friends eager to spend a weekend in this paradise!

Mt. Ball looms over Shadow Lake

Winter Access to Shadow Lake via Redearth Creek

Shadow Lake is easily reached year round via the Redearth Creek Trail. The trail can be hiked, biked, or skied as a long day trip (14 km one way,) but  I recommend splurging on an overnight stay at the decadent Shadow Lake Lodge. Most people won't appreciate a 30 km round trip ski day.

The Redearth Creek Trail follows an old road for 11km to the junction with Pharaoh Creek and then you continue for a final 3km on a narrower trail to the lodge. The entire distance is snowmobile packed and trackset each Thursday afternoon for skiers coming in on Friday. 

The link above goes to the All Trails website and shows the full route to the lodge.

The Redearth Creek Trail is trackset before each weekend's guests arrive

Beautiful backcountry skiing to Shadow Lake Lodge

Hikers are welcome on the Redearth Creek Trail as well, but please walk beside the ski tracks and make sure you are not creating divots with your boots. (If so, you should be prepared to snowshoe because holes in the trail are dangerous for skiers coming down steep hills.)

The first 11 kilometres is a gradual climb on a wide packed trail. Skiers may have to herringbone sections near the bottom and it's an exciting ski back down, requiring upper intermediate ski abilities. The trail does flatten out in the middle though and you'll be able to ski in the tracks for long sections.

Skiing the packed and trackset Redearth Creek Trail

The final 3 kilometres starts with a steep hill that most skiers will walk (up and down,) carrying their skis.  It takes about 15 minutes to get up the hill, and then the trail flattens out again up top. This section however, is rolling with short punchy climbs and steep twisty descents (in both directions.) On my recent trip we walked large sections on the way out because the snow was very fast and the trail is quite narrow (making it hard to snow plow.)

Overall, the trail gains approximately 400 metres of height, spread out over the 14 km. It took us 4 hours to ski to the lodge on my recent trip, and only 2 hours to ski out.

Skiers with strong intermediate abilities should be fine with regular Nordic skis and you do not need backcountry skis. I used my skin skis with metal edges and did appreciate my edges on the fast trail coming out.

The upper trail to Shadow Lake Lodge has steeper sections that can be challenging on descent

Avalanche hazard: From the Parks Canada website: "From the trailhead, two avalanche paths cross the trail at kilometres 3.3 and 4.4. Between kilometres 6.3 and 8, avalanche paths from Copper Mountain exist above the trail. Do not stop in these areas."

The first two paths are signed, so stop when you reach the slope, listen and look. If all appears clear, you'll be safe to cross (even if something starts to slide while you're crossing.) They're short paths and they typically would only run in late season (every 10 years.) I also recommend skiing across one at a time, and then waiting on the other side for each member of your group.

The third area starts after the campground you'll reach at kilometre 6. Stop here to have snacks, eat lunch, or address clothing issues. I was told this avalanche slope only slides every 100 years, so it's not a huge risk. Caution should always be taken though along with a good steady pace through this section. You can stop when you reach the junction to the lodge at the start of the big climb.

The first two avalanche paths are signed so you won't miss them

Winter Day Trips from Shadow Lake Lodge

When you arrive at the lodge, staff will give you suggestions for ski touring or snowshoeing around the area on the Saturday. Top choices will include:

Shadow Lake  - Ski or snowshoe to visit the iconic Parks Canada red chairs near the end of the lake.

 It took us an hour round trip to reach the red chairs from the lodge on skis. The link goes to the All Trails website and there is no avalanche danger if you stop at the red chairs. 

Easy ski touring to Shadow Lake

You can easily ski to Shadow Lake on regular Nordic skis

This outing is doable on Nordic XC skis as long as the trail has been packed down or skier tracked by others ahead of you (lodge staff and guests are pretty good at keeping the trail in shape.)

And if you don't want to ski to the lake, you can borrow snowshoes from the lodge (bring your own winter boots.)

It's an easy ski or hike to the Red Chairs at Shadow Lake

Ball Pass Junction - From the lake, cross the bridge, and then take the trail heading towards Egypt Lake and the junction with Ball Pass. There is a campground at the junction, and there is no avalanche danger if you stop here. The link goes to the All Trails website.

It took us 3 hours round trip for this outing on Nordic XC skis, but we had to turn around before reaching the junction when we ran out of ski tracks to follow ahead of us. If nobody has done this trail recently, you'll need snowshoes (and even if it's been packed down, it's not an easy ski trail and you'll want wider skis suited for light touring.)

Ski touring towards the Ball Pass Junction

Note the lodge only has 8 pairs of snowshoes to lend out, so you may want to consider bringing your own pair if you plan to hike on the Saturday. (They can be strapped to your backpack for the ski in.)

Whether you ski or snowshoe, the scenery never ends around Shadow Lake

Hiking option for Gibbon Pass -  This makes for an excellent day trip from the lodge on snowshoes. It is only 6 km return with 450 metres of height gain, and you can borrow snowshoes from the lodge if you bring your boots.

Don't continue past the monument at the top of the pass. There would be avalanche terrain if you were to proceed.

See the full route on All Trails covering the Vista Lake - Arnica Lake - Twin Lakes - Gibbon Pass hike. Note this is a summer route only! You'll be turning around at the pass.

The trail to Gibbon Pass is much steeper! Snowshoes required (photo from a previous fall trip)

Gibbon Pass on our last visit in September

Booking a Trip to Shadow Lake Lodge

Visit the Shadow Lake Lodge website for information on pricing and availability. Rooms can be booked on the website or by email to

The lodge is open 7 days a week in the summer season, but is only open weekends in winter.

All guests arrive on Friday, spend the weekend at the lodge, and then ski or hike out on Sunday.

Shadow Lake Lodge

Additional Reading

Read about my previous trips to Shadow Lake Lodge in the summer and autumn seasons:

It's a fun ski out on Sunday! Mostly downhill all the way to the parking lot

Disclaimer: My trip to the lodge was hosted in partnership with Shadow Lake Lodge and the Alpine Club of Canada. As always, all words and opinions are my own and I wasn't paid for writing this story.