Snowshoeing the Ancient Forest in Northern BC

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If you are new to snowshoeing, or don’t like to do a serious trip up a mountain, there are a lot of great easy snowshoe trips that you can do around Prince George.  If you still would like a really scenic snowshoe trip, I recommend visiting the Ancient Forest, which is 113 kilometres (70 miles) east of Prince George. The Ancient Forest is an interior temperate rain forest full of old Cedar trees, many of which are estimated to be at least 1,000 years old!  It is beautiful during all the four seasons of the year, but I think that my favourite time of the year to visit it is in the winter.

A person standing next to giant trees

It is called a rain forest, but it’s more like a snow forest as it gets a lot of precipitation year round.  Because of the tons of snow that it receives in the winter, it is a great place to snowshoe!  And unlike during the other seasons where you must not go off the trail as you will damage the undergrowth and even the base of the trees, you can explore the area off trail a bit in the winter. I would still recommend that you take care not to touch the trees so you don’t damage them, or the fragile yellow gold-dust lichen that grows on them.

On the day that I came out with my friend, we started up the trail on the west side entrance.  As it was a colder day, I noticed that there was a lot of beautiful Hoar Frost on small trees.  If you haven’t seen it before, it looks like delicate feathers from a distance.

Snowshoeing in the Ancient Forest. Photo: Carolyn Ibis

After looking close up at the Hoar Frost, we then continued on our way until we entered the Ancient Cedar forest.  The first thing that I noticed when entering the forest is that the trees look so pretty with the snow swept up against their bases.  We followed a well used snowshoe trail until we reached Big Tree.  After taking it in, we continued on through the forest.  Even with the plants and flowers covered in snow, you will find a lot of things to look at,  like various animal tracks in the snow,  the towering trees, and if it’s cold enough, more hoar frost.  With the lack of plants to add colour,  the yellow gold-dust lichen on the old Cedars really stands out too.

Snowshoeing in the Ancient Forest. Photo: Carolyn Ibis

At one point while snowshoeing, we eventually started making our own trail, and it was wonderful to snowshoe on lots of fresh powdery snow.  It was so deep, that I am sure that if we took our snowshoes off, we’d be buried in it!

Snowshoeing in the Ancient Forest. Photo: Carolyn Ibis

We eventually made our way to Treebeard Falls. In the winter the water that tumbles over the Treebeard waterfalls is silenced as it’s buried underneath frozen ice and snow. It is still very pretty to look at with it’s beautiful ice sculptures covering the flowing water underneath.

Snowshoeing in the Ancient Forest. Photo: Carolyn Ibis

After visiting the falls, we explored more around the forest.  Eventually, we come across the very scenic views below of Dimsdale Mountain on the left and Mt. Sir Alexander on the right:

Snowshoeing in the Ancient Forest. Photo: Carolyn Ibis

After spending most of the day wandering around, it was time to head back to our vehicle to warm up and head home.

The trail in the summer is at least 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) long, depending on the route you take, but you can spend a good day wandering around the forest in the winter. It is definitely a different experience seeing snow in an Ancient Cedar forest, and one that you would rarely see on the coast. If you are visiting Prince George or McBride, British Columbia, in the winter, I’d take the time to drive out to the Ancient Forest and check it out on your snowshoes- I think it will be something you’ll never forget!

If you’re curious about what the Ancient Forest looks like in the summer, and also want to learn a little more about the forest and the Universal Boardwalk that was recently built there, check out the blog post BC’s Ancient Forest: a natural, accessible wonder.