Snowshoes, sometimes referred to as “webs”, work by distributing the weight of the person over a larger area so that the feet don’t sink completely into the snow, a quality called "flotation". While today they are used mainly for recreational purposes, often by hikers and runners who like to continue their hobby in wintertime, in the past snowshoes were essential tools for fur traders, trappers and anyone whose life or livelihood depended on the ability to get around in areas of deep and frequent snowfall. The traditional webbed snowshoe originated with northern First Nations, such as the Huron, Algonquin and Cree. New snowshoes are light and versatile, and provide outstanding exercise.
The extensive network of BC Snowshoe trails in Tumbler Ridge is ideal for getting around on foot, be it walking, hiking or snowshoeing, one of our favourite winter activities. Many of the cross-country ski routes can be followed on snowshoes, but you are asked to please keep off the groomed ski trails and the set trails in the canyons.
A popular route is the Wolverine Trail system (maintained by the WNMS) that begins and ends at the golf course. From here, you travel over the open, snow-covered greens before entering the woods beyond, beside 10 km (6.2 mi) of forested trails with views high above the Murray River Valley. The system of interlocking loops is groomed (and reserved) for skiing, and you can choose how far you want to go alongside the trails before looping back. Just when you need a warm-up break, the Lost Haven Cabin beckons with its woodstove and the opportunity to rest, enjoy a hot drink and meet others who are out enjoying our snowy playground.
Another fine BC Snowshoe outing is to Flatbed Falls up Flatbed Canyon. The trailhead is less than five minutes from town, and offers a 7 km/4.4 mi (return) trip through mixed forest to the 4 m (13 ft) waterfall on Flatbed Creek. Along the way, you may see the summit of Mt. Spieker in the distance.
In Wapiti Lake Provincial Park, beautiful wintry scenes of rivers, lakes and surrounding mountains wait to be discovered by experienced hikers, cross-country skiers and snowshoers. The park is 60 km (37 mi) south of Tumbler Ridge, accessed via the Wapiti River Forest Service Road. The 4-person backcountry cabin (at km 19.2) is open all year and available for a maximum of two nights, with the expectation that it will be kept clean, litter-free and in good condition for the next visitor. Terrain is rugged and weather can change quickly, so advise someone of your plans.
The most ambitious snowshoeing quest, down and back up Quality Canyon, begins in a tranquil forest setting close to the Tumbler Ridge townsite (6 km northeast on Hwy. 52). Impressive scenery and some challenges (frozen chutes) keep the trip interesting. The vertical icefalls are the usual turnaround point on this trip. Quality Falls is a popular canyoning spot in summer.
For more information on snowshoeing in Tumbler Ridge, contact the Visitor Centre and the WNMS.