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Winter Trails

Nordic, Night Skiing, Snowshoe & Dog Friendly Trails

The winter ski season typically starts in December and ends in April. During the winter our members and visitors can enjoy 55 km of groomed trails, night skiing, dog friendly trails, and numerous snowshoe trails.

Trail passes for non-members must first be purchased at the main facility in the office/rental shop.

The following guidelines are designed to ensure all users have a safe and enjoyable experience on our trails. We ask everyone on the trails to:

  • Have a current pass visible.
  • Use only skis on ski trails.
  • Use only snowshoes on snowshoe tracks.
  • On two way trails keep to the right.
  • Skate, herringbone and snowshoe without damaging the classic ski tracks.
  • After a fall, fix damage to the tracks.
  • No smoking anywhere on the property.
  • Help with maintenance: remove small branches and debris/litter from the trails.
  • Report trail issues to the office or contact: tracksandtrails@caledonianordic.com
  • Dogs use only the designated “Dog Ski Trails”. Dogs must be under voice command. Be a “responsible” owner and clean up after it. See the “Dog Friendly Trails” tab for more details.
Safety

You are responsible for your own safety. Always ski prepared. Keep to marked and lit trails, bring extra water, clothing, and snacks. ALWAYS tell someone where you are going.

(Updated December 2023)

The Caledonia Nordic Ski Club has 10km of lit trails for night skiing. The rolling terrain is suitable for all skill levels and trails are set for classic and skate skiing.

  • Night skiing is only open members and day visitors (Trail Passes in rental office or in after hours drop box)
  • Lights are on for night skiing from sunrise (~6:30am) to sunset (~9:30pm)
  • Lit trails (See map, Yellow Highlighted Trails-https://www.caledonianordic.com/trails-facilities/trails-winter)
  • Check our hours of operation for when the Day Lodge is open. 
  • Rentals are not available after 6:30pm and must be returned by 8:00pm
  • Use of snowshoe trails is included in purchase of membership.
  • Non-members, please purchase a snowshoe trail pass at the office.
  • Please always yield to oncoming skiers when crossing ski trails!
  • Dogs are not permitted on the snowshoe trails.
  • Please ensure you are using snowshoes on the snowshoe trails. Walking in boots can damage the trails making it challenging for others.

The Caledonia Nordic Ski Club has approximately 8 km of dog friendly trails for skiers, snowshoers, and their dogs.  The entrance to the dog friendly trails is 400m east of the main facility right at the corner past the train tracks in the Barking (Parking) Lot.

Trail passes for non-members must first be purchased at the main facility in the office/rental shop. Please purchase your pass and drive to the Barking (Parking) lot to access the dog trails.

The following guidelines are designed to ensure all users have a safe and enjoyable experience on our trails:

  • Ski and snowshoe passes must be visible at all times. If you plan to ski or snowshoe after office hours then you must have a season’s pass.
  • Snowshoeing with dogs on the ski trails is NOT permitted except to access the dog friendly, out and back trail that starts on the south side of the ski trail, to the left of the parking lot. Please walk single file on the North side of the ski trail until you can access the snowshoe trail on the south side. Skiers come down the hill very quickly so be aware.
  • All skiers skiing on the dog trails should anticipate encountering dogs and their owners and behave in a kind and courteous manner towards both. Dogs have the right of way on the dog trails.
  • Dog owners are responsible for their dogs and assume the risk that other dogs will be encountered along the trails.
  • Skijoring is not allowed on any of Otway’s ski trails, including the dog trails.
  • A maximum of three dogs per skier and four per group of skiers.
  • Dogs must be on a leash in the parking area.
  • Keep your dog in your vehicle until you are ready to ski.
  • Please remove dog feces from the trail surface.  This is especially important in the parking area where people tend to be ‘inattentive.’
  • Where appropriate along the dog trails use the utensils provided to toss dog feces off the trail into the woods or bag the feces and dispose of it in an appropriate manner.
  • Return the ‘poop scooper’ utensil to the designated post where you acquired it.
  • Keep your dogs under control when approaching other skiers and pets.
  • Have proof of rabies vaccination.
  • Do not bring dogs younger than 4 months to the ski area. They will not have the appropriate inoculations to play with other animals.
  • Do not scold, hit or touch someone else’s dog.
  • Be friendly with other dog owners. It’s more enjoyable if everyone is nice!
  • If your dog becomes: unruly, stressed or rough; leash the dog and leave immediately.
  • Do not bring female dogs in season if not spayed.
  • If a group of dogs are bullying another dog, make sure your dog is not participating and encourage other owners to do the same.

 Members not abiding by these rules will be subject to the club’s discipline code.  Please immediately report all incidents related to the dog trails to the club General Manager.

(Updated December 2023)

We get it! Many people have questions about grooming patterns, decisions, schedule and best practices. Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions:

Who should I direct my grooming suggestions or concerns to?

Please read below to see if we’ve already addressed your grooming questions. Otherwise, please contact us via email. We will do our best to respond in a timely manner. 

What equipment does the club groom with?

The club grooms with a 2014 and a 2007 Piston Bully 100.  These machines are specifically designed for cross country ski areas and have powerful tillers which can groom and track set 3.3m in one pass.  We also have two snowmobiles specifically for pulling grooming equipment, a 2013 Expedition 1200cc SWT and a 2010 Skandic 800cc SWT.  Primary grooming equipment includes a 2m Tidd Tech G2 snowmobile groomer with track setter, a 2m Yellowstone Ginzu snowmobile groomer with track setter and a 3.2m roller to compact snow.

Why not use PB100’s all the time?

The PB 100’s can’t be operated in low snow conditions due to the depth of the cleats on the tracks and the aggressiveness of the cutters on the tiller.  This prevents it from being used in early season as the tracks and tiller will bring debris to the surface and spread it through the snow pack.  Ideally, there needs to be a minimum of 60cm of moderately compacted snow before the larger machine is utilized.  Each time the snow is tilled, the snow crystals are altered and become finer.  This improves the skiing surface in the short term however when the snow is tilled too much the crystals become small and rounded, creating a less than ideal surface and reducing the durability of the snow surface. The snow pack can be renewed with the introduction of fresh snow but the cycle starts again until another snow renewal.  The idea is to find a balance to prolong the life of the ski surface.  Snowmobile groomers (G2, Ginzu) have a less aggressive action and do not alter the snow crystals as much.  The snow surface remains more easily skiable for a longer duration.  The G2 or Ginzu are also narrow enough that the skating lanes can be groomed without affecting the classic tracks.  In addition, the snowmobile groomer can travel faster than the PB 100, so more km of trail can be covered in a similar time period. In the spring, when there is frequent freeze/thaw cycles, the PB 100 tiller does a great job of chewing up the ice.  Unfortunately, each time this is done, the snowpack is reduced and the ability of the snow crystals to adhere to each other is further diminished.  Snow crystals have a finite capacity to be worked.

Why does the club groom with snowmobiles?

Snowmobile grooming is the only option in low snow conditions.  They are fast and economical to operate and reduce the damage to snow crystals.  The narrow width of the implement also allows the grooming of the skating surface without damaging the existing classic track. In the spring, if the snow is not too hard, the G2 or Ginzu, with additional weight, can grind up the top layer of snow without reducing the snowpack as much as the PB100.  This allows the trails to be groomed more frequently. I like fast skiing on hard trails. Why are the trails groomed so frequently? The club tries to provide conditions suitable to the majority of skiers.  The goal is to provide stiff dependable classic tracks and a firm, non-icy skating lane.  These two objectives can be challenging to reach at the same time.  The trails which are generally more challenging and are ranked as “more difficult” or are part of designated race courses are groomed to suit more experienced skiers.

Does the club groom every day?

The CNSC is one of a handful of BC clubs that have the capacity to groom daily and, conditions permitting, generally this is the case.  A groomed trail can remain in good condition for several days depending on skier traffic and grooming it unnecessarily is neither cost effective nor productive in terms of the workable life of the snow. Grooming staff strive to balance the longevity of the snow pack with providing the best possible skiing surface for members. Weather conditions have a significant effect on grooming and if the weather is inclement the club will not groom.  For example, if the snow is too warm or too wet, grooming will quickly turn the snowpack into concrete.  The Pine Flats area of Otway is in a cold microclimate which allows the trail in this area to be groomed more reliably than those higher on Cranbrook hill.  Some trails require a greater depth of snowpack before they can be groomed and are not open in early season.

My favorite trails were not groomed one Saturday morning!

The clubs executive and grooming staff feel that the trails and the grooming of trails is the clubs number one priority.  The goal of the club is to have outstanding trails when snow conditions allow.  The club has a capital plan to continuously invest in its grooming fleet with additional equipment purchases and preventative maintenance.  In addition, it tries to ensure that back-up grooming staff are available 24/7.

What is the order that the trails are groomed?

Grooming staff strive to provide a selection of trails of varying difficulty levels for different users, as well as grooming the favorites, within the timeframe of the grooming schedule. The order in which trails are groomed is selected each day by each operator, taking into account, each days specific requirements and the most logical order to avoid double grooming any one section of trail. 

The trail was icy after yesterday’s rain. Why wasn’t it groomed?

The PB100 tiller can chew through ice but grooming in warm weather will cause more harm than good, as a smooth even trail can’t be reset.  Snow temperature needs to stabilize and water needs to pass through the snow pack to better facilitate grooming.

How long does it take to groom all the trails?

The club has over 55 km of trails and the PB 100 can average 5 km/hour in ideal conditions.  It takes a minimum of 11 hours to groom all the trails at one time.

What should I do if I see a grooming machine heading toward me?

Please move to the side of the trail, well off the compacted area.  This will allow equipment to pass and continue grooming the trail network without interruption.  The operators must take additional care when passing skiers, which slows operations.  If you are approaching a machine from the rear leave a wide gap between yourself and the implement.  The operator may not see you and may stop suddenly.  The resulting collision between skier and implement could result in serious injury.

Why did the club purchase a second Piston Bully 100?

The engine of the PB100 is a conventional diesel and can be maintained locally, however, diagnosis of the Piston Bully specific electronic controls and hydraulic system is very complex and specialized.  Our efforts to obtain specialized assistance locally have been problematic in the past.  In some cases we have no choice but to send the machine to Kelowna (the western Canadian PB Service Center) for a complete detailed inspection, overhaul and maintenance which could take weeks.  Members determined that this down time was problematic.  We purchased a second machine in the fall of 2014 to reduce that down time.  In addition we have a plan in place to quickly ship machines to Kelowna for repairs rather than attempting repairs locally or having the technician travel to PG.

Why does the club groom in the morning rather than at night or during the day?

Grooming may take place at any time of the day or night, but there are two preferred times for grooming.  When there is snow in the forecast grooming will take place in the early morning to better facilitate the compaction of fresh snow onto the trails.  With no snow in the forecast the trails will be groomed overnight to better facilitate curing times for the snow pack to make them more durable to skier traffic. Grooming during the day or early evening is avoided because of the number of skiers on the trail, resulting in safety concerns and because in the late winter and spring this is the warmest part of the day.  Grooming typically takes 4 to 6 hours per day and grooming staff will be adapting their schedule to the weather conditions to provide the best trail surface conditions for users.  Groomers typically try to be off the trails by 10 am.

Do groomers get paid?

The club uses paid grooming staff to ensure the quality of grooming.

How can members help make better trail conditions?

Please do not ski behind the groomer and avoid trails that are very freshly groomed, as you will punch ski tracks into the snow.  It takes a minimum of one hour for the snow to set up after grooming to provide that smooth firm corduroy that the majority of members love.  Try to preserve classic tracks when herringboning up hills or skate skiing by staying well away from set tracks.

The Greenway trail is groomed from time to time.  Is there a schedule for grooming?

The CNSC is continuing its partnership with the Greenway Society to occasionally groom the Greenway trail.  The intent is to groom the Greenway at regular intervals, when time and conditions allow.

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