Snowshoeing at Cypress

Trees in Mist

It never happened.

The awesome ski season I was so looking forward to never happened.

In all my years of skiing, I’ve never seen a worse season than this past winter. What little snow the North Shore mountains received last November was washed away with an early season Pineapple Express. (A Pineapple Express is a storm system that moves in on the Pacific Northwest from Hawaii ― they are warm and wet and sometimes windy.)

Warm and wet do not good ski conditions make.

Ski Trail

The irony of me writing a post about our lack of a ski season is that today is Family Day. Family Day is a provincial holiday enjoyed by most Canadian provinces on the third Monday of February (which is also the same day as Presidents’ Day south of the border). But in British Columbia, we celebrate Family Day on the second Monday of February. In my mind, it makes for a weird holiday ― knowing that the rest of Canada is working, I can’t help but feel I’m playing hooky.

Why did BC chose a different weekend than the rest of the country?

I’m so glad you asked as it’s still a sore point for me. I would love to spend a Family Day long weekend with my family in Alberta ― but that’s not possible since our holiday weekends don’t coincide.

The reason our oh-so-wise provincial government leaders chose to set the mid-winter holiday Monday on a different Monday than our neighbours to the east and south of us is so that BC families could have their ski resorts to themselves. (An aside: now there’s a government with a good grasp of how much it costs to raise a family in BC ― did you know that British Columbia has the highest child poverty rate in the country? I bet having a family day on the slopes is a high priority for parents who can’t afford to buy their kids a new pair of runners, much less ski clothes.)

At any rate, here we British Columbians sit with a holiday weekend during which our government promised us we’d have our mountains all to ourselves.

Which we do, because, oh yeah, there’s no snow.

So, what to do instead? Well, even when there isn’t enough snow for skiing, there is enough for snowshoeing, another of my favourite winter activities. (Although, truthfully, I should say was, as even the snowshoeing season appears to be over. The local mountains post daily updates that they remain hopeful more snow is on the way, but I have my doubts that Mother Nature is going to cooperate.)

OK. Enough with the whining. I did have a great day playing in the snow on the mountain a couple of weekends ago with some of my friends, and sharing the photos from that glorious day is the reason I’m posting today.

My friends and I went snowshoeing at Cypress Mountain. Just thirty minutes from downtown Vancouver, Cypress used to be known as Cypress Bowl and consists of three mountains, none of which are named Cypress. Black Mountain and Mount Strachan are where the downhill skiers and snowboarders hang out, and Hollyburn Mountain is the Nordic ski area. There are 11 km of self-guided snowshoe trails on Hollyburn that interlace the cross-country trails and, if you so desire, you can follow those trails all the way to the top of the mountain.

Believe me, it sounds more arduous than it is. Snowshoeing, to the uninitiated, is as simple as going for a hike in the snowy woods. Modern snowshoes have crampons, so climbing or descending the mountain trails is fairly easy to do. Some snowshoers prefer to use poles; they can give you extra stability on the steeper trails.

Snowshoe Trail

The bonus for us on the day we chose to go play in the snow was that Hollyburn was encased in fog, so we had a walk in snowy, misty woods. (Another indication of our warm winter has been the amount of fog we’ve seen these past few months.)

Trail Markers

Part way up Hollyburn Mountain is Hollyburn Lodge, which has been the mountain’s refuge for skiers and snowshoers since 1926.

Hollyburn Lodge

The licensed café inside sells hot and cold food and drinks, although you’re welcome to bring your own food to eat in the lodge. There’s also live music on weekends. And if you chose to join a guided snowshoe tour, fondues (chocolate or cheese!) are part of the package.


My friends and I are hoping to squeeze in one more day of snowshoeing this season, but if it doesn’t happen, I know we’ll be back as soon as we can next season.

4 responses to “Snowshoeing at Cypress”

  1. BK says :

    Thanks for clarifying why BC chose to be the odd one out for Family Day. I had wondered…

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