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Winter in Terrace: A Haven for Outdoor Adventure

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Shames Mountain | Marty Clemens

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Where the mountains come together in a valley full of clear, freshwater rivers, the city of Terrace, the traditional home of the Kitsumkalum and Kitselas Peoples, has been on the map for outdoor adventurers for decades. Close to the ocean and even closer to snow-laden alpine peaks, Terrace has it all for those who like to explore. Whether it’s motorized, self-propelled, off-grid, or right on top of it all, Terrace’s topography lends itself to getting adventurous in every way you can imagine. Here’s how to get the best from Terrace in the winter.

If you’re exploring BC’s snowy backcountry, make sure you’re aware of the risks and well prepared for your activities. Be sure to check the avalanche forecast before heading out.

Shames Mountain | Andrew Strain

Skiing and Snowboarding at Shames Mountain

An under-the-radar destination of legend in ski and snowboard circles, Shames Mountain is an anomaly in the world of ski resorts. Rarely a lift line, sprawling natural terrain, and a prodigious amount of snowfall make this winter utopia a must-visit for both die-hard powder seekers looking to sample big back-country bowls and budget-conscious families looking for an affordable ski getaway. With metres of coastal snowfall, gladed, slackcountry terrain, and even a few tasty cruisers for good measure—all with a no-frills community co-op kind of vibe—Shames Mountain punches well above its weight. 

Ski Shames
Two people stand on the deck of a wooden building with red siding. The railing on the deck is made from colourful skis, and there are white, criss-crossed skis above the deck.
Onion Lake Nordic Ski Trails | Marty Clemens

Nordic Skiing, Snowshoeing, and Fat Biking at Onion Lake

Every cross-country skier knows a Nordic trail is only as good as its services, and at Onion Lake, the Snow Valley Nordic Ski Club has ensured world-class amenities like night skiing, a regularly-cleared parking lot, bathrooms, and a common lodge heated by the comforting crackle of a wood fireplace. 

Located to the south, between Terrace and Kitimat, Onion Lake has groomed trails for classic and skate skiing. They even offer a dog-friendly trail for those who glide with pooches. A groomed, 4.7-kilometre trail was built specifically for fat bikes and snowshoes. So pedal and stomp your way around the area without fear of running into the swift XC skiers.  

Snow Valley Nordic
A skier is barely visible in the deep, undulating powder. Huge peaks can be seen in the background.
Coast Range near Terrace | Mattias Fredriksson

Heliskiing and Catskiing

Got a little extra change in your pocket and a thirst for deep, untouched snow? Heliskiing is an experience every skier or snowboarder should try at least once (just be careful; it’s highly addictive). The soft, deep snow of the alpine pairs well with swift, awe-inspiring flights in the mountains. Less than two hour from Vancouver by air, Terrace offers heliskiing so close to the city yet so far from the everyday.

Northern Escape Heli Skiing and White Wilderness Heliskiing both offer whirlybird ripping and have beautiful lodges (and multiple package options) for you to soak up the glory at the end of the day, eat fabulous food, and rest up for another day of shredding. Nearby in the Kispiox Valley, visit Skeena Heliskiing and the always-welcoming Bear Claw Lodge.

Want a similar experience on a budget? Skeena Cat Skiing is less than two hours east of Terrace and offers the same deep snow but accessed by cat. Cats can navigate the kind of thick storms that regularly hit the area and leave helis grounded. Whichever you choose, the allure of deep powder will leave you breathless at the end of each run.

The Shames River | Jeanine Philippe

Winter Fishing 

Fishing in winter is not at the top of most anglers’ lists, but for the dedicated and passionate there’s a reason one gets dressed warmly and tackles high water: steelhead. 

From the famous banks of the Skeena River to its steelhead-rich tributaries, the Kalum, Kitimat, and the Copper rivers, Terrace is the place to be for the rare fish. Remember, steelhead fishing isn’t easy, but the reward of catching one of nature’s most beautiful and difficult-to-find fish is worth the effort. 

Two snowmobilers ride away from the camera through deep powder with snow-covered trees on either side.
Between Terrace and Kitimat | Dylan Marek


If you prefer the high-octane twist of the throttle and echo of a snowmobile’s distinctive “brap brap,” Terrace has more than enough to keep you going. 

About 80 kilometres north of town, the Big Cedar snowmobiling area has a five-kilometre trail that takes sledders through towering conifers to panoramic views. Located nearby, Sterling Mountain’s trails are maintained by the Skeena Valley Snowmobile Association, which includes several day-use cabins at Sterling Lake and Jack’s Lake.

Just down Highway 37, you’ll find the community of Kitimat, a haven for snowmobilers, with endless trails and backcountry day-use cabins just outside of town.

Remember to always check the avalanche forecast before heading out.


How to Get Here

By Car: Most visitors drive Highway 16 to Terrace to take advantage of the incredible scenery along the way. Driving to Terrace from Vancouver, Calgary, or Edmonton is a must, whether its your first time in Canada or you have lived here your whole life. As you get closer to Terrace, you will be treated to views of pristine forests, dramatic mountain vistas, and the mighty Skeena River.

By Air: The newly expanded and renovated Northwest Regional Airport services both Terrace and Kitimat, and is located about 11 km from downtown Terrace. Air Canada, WestJet, and Central Mountain Air operate several direct daily flights to and from Vancouver, as well as a flight to Prince George. Several national car rental companies provide service directly at the airport.  Taxi and shuttle services are available.

By Ferry: If you have the time, hop on a BC Ferries vessel and enjoy a mini-cruise along the west coast of the province, from Port Hardy at the northern tip of Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert. The 220-km drive from Prince Rupert to Terrace is one of the most scenic drives in BC. Check Drive BC for road conditions before and during your journey.

Where to Stay
As a busy hub in B.C.’s north with a great airport, Terrace has a wide variety of hotels, from nationwide chains like the Sandman and Days Inn, to luxury lodges made for anglers and skiers on vacation. Places like the Skeena River House Bed and Breakfast and Hidden Acres Farm and Treehouse Resort offer travelers a more unique experience. Wherever you stay, the town of Terrace will charm and enchant.

Where to Eat and Drink
Adventure usually means getting up early, and getting up early means coffee. At Xanders Coffee, Cafenara, and Cafe Zesta, the friendly staff will get you caffeinated and filled with food for a day of fun. Want more to chew on? The Bear Country Inn and Northern Motor Inn both do a decent breakfast. Terrace is a centre of industry in Northern BC, and with that comes the full spectrum of chain restaurants for those who want the familiarity of home.  

Après + Eats
Don Diego’s is a must visit with its authentic Mexican cuisine and dedication to delicious margaritas. Blue Fin Sushi Bar brings the bounty of the Pacific Ocean inland, serving all the sushi standards you expect in a big city sushi restaurant. Haryana’s does fantastic Indian food. As with all northern destinations, Mr. Mike’s Casual Steakhouse is a likely hub of socializing and late-night fun. Find the party here most nights.

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