Cross-country skiing in Prince George: Otway’s Nordic Winter Festival

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Located a mere fifteen minutes from downtown Prince George, Otway is an amazing recreational hub for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing enthusiasts. They claim 55 kilometres (34 miles) of groomed trails, including lighted trails for night skiing and dog friendly trails, a big lodge with concession, equipment rentals and a biathlon range.

Otway Nordic Ski Center in Prince George

The lodge at Otway.

We arrived at the Otway mid-morning. After finding a somewhat wobbly rhythm, we glided down a short trail to the gravel pit and the smell of a campfire where they were holding a hot dog roast.

Otway Nordic Ski Center in Prince George

Trying to find our groove. Photo by Anne Scott.

Not being much of a skier, going up and down even the small hills was a tad frightening. A very kind member of the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club must have taken pity on us and offered up some tips (for which I was grateful… that is, until he made me test my newfound knowledge by actually climbing shakily up a hill and screaming my way back down). But really, everyone I met was relaxed, smiling and beyond friendly!

Otway Nordic Ski Center in Prince George

Otway’s trails are well-marked.

We headed back to the lodge for lunch – a delicious hot bowl of homemade chilli, hot chocolate and a cookie – a perfect fit for the beautiful winter day. We sat outside on the lodge’s big balcony, watching the families having fun below and enjoying the live fiddle music being played next to us.

Otway Nordic Ski Center in Prince George

Delicious chili lunch and the perfect break from skiing.

After lunch, we signed up to try out the biathlon range. We received a quick orientation and actually got to try out shooting (without the pressure of slowing our breathing and heart rate from a fast pace race first, thankfully!). Having shot plenty before, I was happy to hit five out of five targets (my hubby only hit four, but I promised not to mention that part, so don’t tell!).

Otway Nordic Ski Center in Prince George

My husband testing his skills at biathlon.

At the end of the day, we took some time to explore some of the trails and practice our “not falling going down hills” (I’ve got a lot of work to do there, it seems). After an hour of this, I know we barely scratched the surface of the trail circuit. It was a beautiful day – gorgeous scenery, friendly people and incredibly well planned activities by the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club (thank you!). I’m definitely adding cross-country skiing to my (growing) list of favourite things to do during our northern winters.

Otway Nordic Ski Center in Prince George

One of the many trails at Otway.