By Sarah Tokarek
Welcome to Secwepemcúl’ecw Territory.
The Shuswap is located on the traditional unceded territory of the Secwépemc Peoples.
Winter in the Shuswap brings endless possibilities.
Whether you are a backcountry enthusiast, a family looking for fun, or a first-timer, we have something for everyone this winter.
Embrace the cooler temperatures and capture the essence of winter while engaging with our community, connecting with nature, and spending the days outdoors.
Here’s our list of essential winter experiences you need to try this season!
When life gives you snow, go snowshoeing!
Once the snow accumulates and makes hiking trails too deep to access, Snowshoeing is a popular choice and is a great beginner’s sport because it takes minimal experience and is easy to learn.
Bundle up, grab those shoes and head out on one of the Shuswap’s spectacular winter and Nordic trails.
Larch Hills is a Nordic dream with over 170 km of cross-country ski trails and 17 km of snowshoe tracks. You will find warming huts on the course, a heated chalet at the parking lot, and even a dedicated dog trail. A more extended day trek up to Cec’s Cabin makes for an unforgettable backcountry trip, and you can ski and snowshoe at night on the illuminated trails.
The snowshoe and cross-country ski trails at Skmana Lake in the North Shuswap are well-marked and family-friendly. In addition, there is approximately 18 km of Nordic winter trails around the forest and lake, plus a warming hut to cozy up, have a fire and take a break.
Don’t have snowshoes, don’t worry! You can rent snowshoes for the whole family at John’s Ski Shack or Skookum Cycle & Ski in Salmon Arm.
The BEST Snowshoeing spots in the Shuswap are found here:
Shuswap XC Ski and Snowshoeing Guide
As far as winter sports go, sliding and tobogganing are at the top of the family fun list! Something about zipping down a hill or zooming through a forest can enliven our spirits.
The Shuswap offers great sliding hills and winter play places to take on these timeless and exhilarating family traditions.
Load the sleighs, start the car, and hit the hills!
Some of our favorite winter play places offer sliding hills, amenities, picnic tables, and designated firepits. Skimikin Lake is surrounded by sliding hills and provides a full day of old-fashioned outdoor fun. White Lake is a great go-to spot for winter sliding; the mountain behind the playground and bike park offers an exhilarating ride. Locals know that Larch Hills has an excellent tobogganing hill beside the north side of the parking lot.
It is always a good idea to wear a helmet when tobogganing, and please respect private property.
3| Ice Skating
The ultimate Canadian pastime, ice skating is a great way to enjoy the crisp winter air with family and friends.
We are so lucky, here in the Shuswap, to have a great selection of both maintained and natural outdoor rinks, each one offering a new and unique experience.
Silver Creek Community Park and Farrell’s Field in the North Shuswap are two of the best outdoor rinks by Columbia Shuswap Regional District. And a recent addition to the outdoor rink circuit, Sorrento-Blind Bay Community Park has a maintained rink and snow-plowed, forested walking trail around the park’s perimeter.
Farrell’s Field in Celista boasts 17,000 square feet of ice. The rink is beautifully lit at night, and the music plays, creating a magical winter experience under the stars.
If old man winter chooses to cooperate and weather conditions are favorable, ice rinks can be found on our local lakes like White Lake, Gardom Lake, and Skimikin Lake.
The Shaw Centre at Salmon Arm Recreation, The Art Holding Memorial Arena in Chase, and The Sicamous & District Recreation Centre are indoor ice rinks that offer public skating.
Always consider the risks of skating on natural ice before heading out.
See information on ice safety from the following resources:
Canadian Red Cross Ice Safety
Adventure Smart BC Ice Safety
4| Ice Fishing
The Shuswap offers exceptional year-round fishing, and winter is no exception!
Local hot spots like White Lake, Skimikin Lake, Hidden Lake, Gardom Lake, and Paul Lake transform into wintery wonderlands and community gathering spots. Ice fishing is fun for the whole family at these easily accessible spots.
Don’t forget that you’ll need a BC Fishing Licence.
Please, always consider the risks of recreating on natural ice.
See information on ice safety from the following resources:
5| Cross-Country Skiing
Two great ingredients for a fantastic family day are fun and exercise! If traversing through old-growth forests or around a frozen lake is your winter style, the Shuswap has hundreds of kilometers of cross-country trails to explore.
Cross-country skiers of all levels will appreciate the variety of skiable terrain and quality of track-set trails at our Nordic Clubs. Larch Hills Nordic Society is home to some of BC’s finest courses. With over 170 km of ski trails, 57 km of which are regularly groomed and illuminated trails, there is no shortage of variety for the outdoor enthusiast.
Skmana Ski and Snowshoe Club in the North Shuswap offers 18 km of track-set classic ski trails. All are well-marked and cover many natural forests, lakes, and streams.
For a more backcountry feel, Skimikin Lake is also known by locals for its snowshoe and cross-country skiing trails, including short looped Nordic trails near the lake and longer, more backcountry-style courses. A perfect place for beginners and children!
Plan your route: Skimikin Trails Map
6| Winter Wonderland Walks
Walking in a winter wonderland….sounds like a mid-winter dream!
What better way to enjoy the stillness of the winter landscape…the frosty lake, the dusted mountains, the evergreen canopies, or the sound of the snow crunching underfoot. Here are a few of our favorite family festive walks in the Shuswap.
Eagle River Nature Trail | Sicamous
This is an easy, super enjoyable, family-friendly, flat pathway with 6 km of well-marked loop trails through old-growth stands of the Cottonwoods, Hemlock, and Cedars.
Waterfront Raven Trail & Christmas Island | Salmon Arm
One of Salmon Arms’ best waterfront wildlife viewing trails with incredible views of Shuswap Lake.
McGuire Lake | Salmon Arm
A stroller and wheelchair-accessible paved path looping a natural lake in the heart of Salmon Arm. This a great family stroll and a place for littles to explore!
Herald Provincial Park & Margaret Falls | Sunnybrae
A perfect winter adventure through a fairy-tale-like forest and frozen waterfall. This is a favorite family destination in the Shuswap.
Syphon Falls | Gleneden Salmon Arm
A short hiking trail to a beautiful hidden waterfall tucked in the forest.
The Salmon Arm Wharf | Salmon Arm
Salmon Arm features the largest curved wooden wharf in North America. Sunsets are spectacular here, and the twinkling city lights glisten on the water at night, making a perfect backdrop for a hot chocolate and winter stroll.
Winter Waterfalls | Shuswap
In the winter, waterfalls turn into ice, transforming into an icy wonderland. A curated winter waterfall tour awaits you!
Plan your route here: Shuswap Trails
*For personal safety, it is essential to consider your footwear’s ice and snow traction capabilities. Adding tractions to your boots will not only help navigate slippery terrain, but they may also prevent a fall. Winter tractions: What to use and wear to buy locally
7| Winter Traditions
The busy holiday season is upon us! From sleigh rides and holiday trains to community light-ups and Christmas parades, we love all things merry and bright!
This December, feel the joyful moments in our communities. In Salmon Arm, be sure to visit the pop-up Christmas trees downtown! Decorated Christmas trees sponsored by local businesses adorn the streets, offering a special treat or gift, and are interactive. Shop windows, historic landmarks, and charming lamp posts are decorated in festive trimmings and bows. Take a stroll while shopping locally in our beautiful downtown!
Walters Sleigh Rides in Notch Hill is a delightful way to spend the afternoon for all ages, and freshly baked cinnamon buns are just one of the holiday highlights.
Caravan Farm Theatre is a sleigh ride show that is a beloved winter holiday tradition.
Locals love the annual CP Holiday Train that rolls through the Sicamous, Salmon Arm, and Notch Hill on December 15th. The North Shuswap Santa Parade is on December 9th, from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm.
Local tree farms offer festive fun, including hot chocolate and scavenger hunts. This year, consider getting your Christmas tree from any of our U-Cut tree farms. Jespersen Solvang Tree Farm, Smith’s Christmas Tree Farm, and Jim’s U-Cut Christmas Tree Farm are open and ready for the season. If you prefer to pick out a pre-cut tree, Demill’s Farm Market and Pedro’s Farm Market offer fresh-cut trees in various species and sizes.
Taste of the Shuswap is doing a fantastic job keeping us up to date on local happenings in the Shuswap, and you can find the up-to-date information here: Taste of the Shuswap
8 | Celebrate Winter Solstice | December 21st
The enchantment of the winter solstice may mean something different to everyone. It marks the beginning of the astronomical winter and is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Traditionally, fire and light help warm and bring comfort during this celebration.
We invite you to get outdoors and try a new activity, a nighttime hike, gazing at the stars, a beach bonfire, a winter walk, or even a cold water immersion.
Light the night and celebrate solstice!
9| See The Sparkle
This holiday season, locals are excited about the third annual Shuswap Holiday Twinkle Trail, which is an online, interactive Christmas lights map featuring homes and businesses lit up to help fill our festive buckets! The map is the perfect way to plan your magical family outings and get in the season’s spirit.
Blind Bay residents Rebecca and Thomas Goode show they care by creating this festive map for all to enjoy. Shuswap Holiday Twinkle Trail Map
To get on the map, send your name and address to email@example.com.
10| Have An Old Fashioned Family Day
As lakes freeze and snow piles up, an insatiable appetite for nostalgic and timeless fun emerges. One of the best things about winter is an old-fashioned family day, playing hockey, snowmobiling, and classic ice fishing in our sparkling outdoors!
Gathering fireside with a warm picnic or hotdog roast with friends and family captures those simplistic holiday memories.
Engaging with your community by involving neighbours or committing to acts of kindness and giving to charity are timeless. Visiting Santa at the mall, writing Christmas cards, and carolling with your family is what memories are truly made of.
Let’s spend the day falling in love with the joys of winter, the happiness of the holidays, and the magic of the Shuswap!