Cross-country skiing is a wonderful way to enjoy the Otter Valley in winter. Draped in snow and ice, covering open forests and fields, broad ridges and logging roads on maintained and marked trails, the nearby hills and mountains form a dramatic backdrop to the pleasures of traveling over crisp snow through the valley.
The highlands of the Thompson Plateau provide ideal terrain for avalanche-free cross-country skiing just 8.5km/5mi from downtown Princeton at China Ridge. Here trails for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers thread through mixed forest of pine, fir and spruce to cozy warming cabins and outstanding viewpoints.
There are challenges for all skill levels at China Ridge, which is located 8.5km/5mi from Princeton. Classic and skate skiers can head out on groomed trails through forest and across open meadows. Trails are rated nicely by skill level but all trails are well maintained and gently progress through the stunning back-country scenery.
For those needing more of a challenge, there are enough black-rated areas to keep advanced skiers challenged and back-country enthusiasts can venture onto an additional set of untracked trails.
Elevations at China Ridge range from 1000m/3281ft to 1400m/4593ft. Snow conditions are usually excellent with lots of dry powder and plenty of beautiful, sunny days. Make sure to bring a camera to record terrific views of the valley, snowy rangeland and the ragged peaks of the Cascade Mountains as you will want to tease your friends with the dramatic and alluring beauty of the Valley when you return!
Cross-country skiing is also popular on the nearby, un-groomed Trans Canada Trail.
Once Otter Lake has frozen over, skiing may be done right on the lake. See brochure for trail maps or see www.cyclelogicpress.com/chinaridge.html. Trail maps are also available at the Princeton Visitor Centre, 105 Hwy 3 East.
To help ensure everyone has a pleasant time:
The Otter Valley area offers cross-country skiing for every level of ability. While a great deal of work has been done in the various recreational areas for your winter enjoyment, this is a wild and natural area, and hazards are part of the wilderness environment. Safety is your responsibility; you venture out at your own risk.
Be prepared for emergencies on the trail. Carry a pack with a map, compass, first-aid kit, extra food, extra clothes, waterproof matches or lighter and fire starter, and an equipment repair kit.
Travel with others, and choose a trail suitable for the least experienced member in your party. Tell friends or family where you're going and when you plan to return.