Raven Lodge, a Vancouver Island Nordic gem you wish you found sooner
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Visit #MYMW for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or fatbiking out of Mt. Washington's Raven Lodge, for a different kind of mountain adventure on Vancouver Island.
“Get down and boogie!" My instructor cracks a smile as he gives our crew of downhill skiers and snowboarders our first cross country ski lesson.
Steve Fediow, an instructor at Mount Washington, is trying to get us to bend into our legs, to keep it soft, feel the ground of Vancouver Island’s beautiful Nordic trails.
This is the first of three sports we’re trying out today. The mission? To find out what all the hype is about Mount Washington’s Raven Lodge.
Raven Lodge is this hidden gem a two-minute drive (or ski) downhill from the main ski lodge. It's a different feeling down here. You’re out of the hustle and bustle of typical alpine culture. At Raven Lodge, things are more laid back, and Nordic.
Don't get me wrong, it's not a ghost town. Booking your rentals and lessons ahead of time is a good idea, especially for the weekend. But feel confident knowing you're stepping into a stress-free zone.
“When you’re up on the mountain you’re so concentrated on being on the hill it’s a completely different experience,” says Vivian Schau, a snowboarder in our group from the Comox Valley.
“It’s really nice to be able to get outdoors here and to take in the incredible views”.
Take a cross-country ski lesson
From the lodge, you’re connected to an extensive network of machine-groomed and classic set cross-country ski trails that weave through ridges, valleys, and vista views.
Take a peek at Mount Washington's live Nordic grooming report right now to get a top-down look at what you're in for.
Without too much effort, our group of new nordic skiers reach ‘the lookout’, a rewarding view above the trees. It’s a natural spot for learners to break and decide if you want to go further, or are ready to head back for your next adventure.
We’re reluctant to stop now but excited to try another new-to-us sport.
Before we head back, we get one more cross-country ski tip from instructor Steve, “It doesn’t matter if you’re at the Olympic level or if this is new to you, see how long you can stretch that glide. You want to spend less time on two skis.”
Before I tried it, I thought Fatbiking must feel a bit like biking through sand. Oh, how wrong I was.
You’re stable. The fat tires keep you above the snow so there really isn’t any drag. To anyone who feels uncoordinated in a new sport (like me), this is the one to try first.
And if you’re a natural athlete, like Vivian’s husband, Cory, go ahead and pop a wheelie (I refer you to the photo above).
The Fatbikes routes extend from Raven Lodge in multiple directions but they are weather dependent. Ask the staff when you're asking about rentals for the best spots of the day and they'll point you in the right direction.
Go for a snowshoe
Tree Beard isn’t the name of a lord of the rings character here, it’s the start of a snowshoe trail into British Columbia’s oldest provincial park.
Strathcona Provincial Park is just a stone’s throw away from Raven Lodge where you pick up your snowshoes and meet your tour guide. (They’ll help you put your shoes on, don’t worry).
Having a guide is clutch. While we snake through trees towards “the ponds” we’re actually learning about our surroundings, instead of just passing by.
Like do you know how to spot a Hemlock? They're the trees drooping at the top.
At times you can see a chairlift on the Mount Washington peak in the distance, or cute cabins and chalets, but for the most part, you’re completely surrounded by nature and wildlife.
If you’re looking for a date night-feel, go for the snowshoe fondue! It’s an evening outing each Saturday of the season that ends with a 3-course fondue back at Raven Lodge.
With stunning architecture and mountain charm, did you know they do weddings (and other events) at Raven Lodge? True story, this was the top choice for my wedding venue two years ago before I was even into the Nordic scene. It's so pretty here.
As I’m leaving Raven Lodge with a full day of memories, and tired legs, I’m extra thankful that the parking lot is close and spacious so I can take it easy as I pack up my car.
Our group is inspired. Vivian, Cory and their daughter are coming back tomorrow. I’m trying to decide which weekend to book a Snowshoe Fondue!
WHEN YOU GO
Money Saver Tip
Mount Washington Gold Passholders get unlimited access to both Alpine and Nordic terrain so you can do all this and more.
Book your adventure
Guided group tours and rentals are available to help you explore the 22km of trails in the area. Reserve ahead for Saturday Snowshoe Fondue tours.
Nordic skiing lessons
Try a discover skate or classic lesson to get you gliding right! Private or group lessons are available, best to book ahead.
Not sure what trails to try? The staff in the rental shop have a map and some great suggestions.