Go north for Nordic on growing Quesnel-Wells cross-country ski trail network
Quesnel/Wells BC — Northern BC is the ultimate place for cross-country skiers and winter lovers. The trails are plentiful and they always give access to solitude, fresh tracks and a perfect day of peace in the mountains. Not to mention, Nordic skiers have been getting spoiled lately with an ever-increasing network of trails meandering through the meadows and mountains with access right from your backdoor in Wells BC and nearby Quesnel.
The community forest trails near Wells keep expanding—reaching nearly 30 kilometres of trail at last tally—and with the addition of the Martins Pass Hut, you can now find the perfect spot to warm your toes and catch your breath as you have your breath taken away by the views and the deep sense of quiet that you can’t avoid on a winter adventure in this dreamy winter destination.
WATCH: northern BC cross-country ski adventures in Wells & Quesnel
The new backcountry cabin is only a six-kilometre ski on groomed trails from Wells, although you could easily add in other loops to extend the adventure. The snug log cabin has bunks and a stove and could fit 6-8 people for a cozy overnight excursion.
According to Dave Jorgenson, local wilderness guide, entrepreneur and trails advocate, "It’s the perfect opportunity for Nordic skiers to have an overnight cabin experience."
We caught up with Dave and his wife Cheryl at the Frog on the Bog for morning snacks and coffees before Dave joined us for a tour through the forested trails. (To book your own guided trip, look up Dave at WhiteGold Adventures.)
Cornish Mountain Loop, the access trail to Martin's Pass Hut, is a mild climb easily manageable for skiers on classic nordic ski gear. All told, the trail spans 12 kilometres, with the hut awaiting at the halfway point.
As we set out, the trees were laden with the big recent snows and the snow kept falling on us all day. Is there anything better?
If you haven’t yet had your fill of ski days by spring, Tony Fiala, local skier, ski coach and two-time Canadian Olympic biathlete tells me that in spring, "You can ski the Cariboo Mountains and paddle on the incredible Bowron Lake in the same day."
It sounds like the perfect plan to beat the shoulder season doldrums.
If you’re into more sculpted ski terrain, the Cariboo Ski Touring Club maintains the Hallis Lake Nordic Facility just outside of Quesnel BC. There are 75km of groomed ski trails, lit tracks, two snowshoe trails and a stunning public lodge to warm up and get après started.
The popularity of snowshoeing continues to flourish, and this year, the club volunteers have hand built a new warming hut at the highest point in the network. The traditional Scandinavian cabin harnesses the ambient warmth from an outdoor fire to keep your spot warm without getting smoked out, and has some of the best star watching around.
The community of Nordic skiers is flourishing throughout the North, as more people discover the effective health elixir of fresh air and gliding on snow. Editor's note: due to extreme warming conditions this season, Hallis Lake closed temporarily in early February. Check back for snow conditions and updates on the Cariboo Ski Touring club website or the club Facebook Page.
"It doesn’t matter what you did that day, if work was hard or if you are struggling with anything else in your life," says Tony, "life is just good once you’ve had a ski."
The only way to improve on an incredible nordic ski weekend in Wells and Quesnel is to have a great après at the Barkerville Brewery: award-winning local craft beers, fabulous NA (non-alcoholic) cocktails and all the local foods that you’ve been dreaming of on the trails.
When You Go
Driving Wells is a 1h drive from Quesnel, or 2h15 from Prince George, BC.
Ski find info on Wells' expanding trail network at the Wells and Area Trails Society (WATS) website. The Cariboo Ski Touring Club operates the Hallis Lake Nordic Centre, 15km South of Quesnel on Quesnel-Hydraulic Rd. Day passes are available at the lodge.
Eats & treats visit Frog on the Bog in Wells for cool local products and great eats!
Gear for all your outdoor gear, check out Rocky Peak Outfitters in Quesnel. (And say hi to Brenda while you’re there!)
Apres Barkerville Brewery is unmissable in downtown Quesnel at 185 Davie St.
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