February 28th, 2024

Plenty of fun ways to enjoy winter in the Hills

By Medicine Hat News on December 29, 2022.

The Cypress Hills boast a variety of winter activities.--NEWS PHOTO KENDALL KING

The Cypress Hills are alive with a variety of winter sports and recreational activities, with extended hours through the Holiday Season.

Most sports and recreational activities are weather dependent. For updates on activity status, operating hours and all other information contact the Cypress Hills Provincial Park Visitor Centre at 403-893-3833, ext. 5.

The centre is open Wednesday to Sunday weekly, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. But, in recognition of the New Year, will be open from now until Jan. 8, with regular hours resuming Jan. 9.

Downhill Skiing

Hidden Valley Ski Resort offers a variety of trails for skiers and snowboarders of all ages, as well as a terrain park.

Lessons are available for beginner and advanced skiers and snowboarders. And there are also season-long programs offered by the Elkwater Ski Club.

Equipment is available for rental. And there are lockers on site in the resort’s day lodge.

Hidden Valley also remains open from now through to Jan. 8, 2023, with lifts running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Cross-Country Skiing

The hills are home to 60-plus kilometres of groomed and non-groomed ski trails for all levels of cross-country skiers.

The Spring Creek trail system is recommended for beginner to novice skiers, while the Spruce Coulee trail system is recommended for novice to experienced skiers.

Skis are available for full and half-day rentals at the Cypress Hills Visitor Centre.

Sledding/Luge

Those interested in tobogganing have a choice of the toboggan hill, located south of Hidden Valley on Highway 41, or the backyard luge, located on the Elkwater Learning Centre’s lawn, opposite the marina.

Visitors must bring their own sled or toboggan to the toboggan hill, but may bring their own or borrow a disc toboggan at the backyard luge.

Skating

During the winter months, Elkwater is home to a public outdoor skating rink – located on 7th Avenue – and a skating loop, though the loop is not yet open this season.

Ice Fishing

There are three sites for ice fishing in southeast Alberta: Elkwater Lake (pike and perch), Reesor Lake (rainbow trout) and Spruce Coulee Reservoir (brook trout).

Ice fishing is not recommended with ice thickness less than 20 centimetres.

Those interested in Ice Fishing should check the digital Alberta Guide to Sportfishing Regulations booklet (available online) prior to heading out on the ice.

Snowshoeing

Numerous trails are open for snowshoeing, however those interested are asked to avoid trails set up for cross-country skiing. Snowshoe rentals are available at the Cypress Hills Visitor Centre.

Fat Biking

All groomed trails are open for fat biking except those belonging to the Spring Creek trail system. Proper tires no less than 3.7 inches in width are required, and skiers take priority on the trails.

Camping

Winter camping is permitted by reservation.

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