A winter ski trip doesn’t necessarily have to include bank-breaking lift passes or hour-long lift lineups. Here are five smaller resorts that are well worth pointing your skis, or boards, toward.
Mount Washington Alpine Resort, Vancouver Island, B.C.
Nestled in the Comox Valley between the Pacific Ocean and Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, Mount Washington is home to Canada’s deepest pile, receiving, on average, a whopping 38 feet of snow each year. With 81 runs, intermediate snow surfers can hone their skills on Invitation and Fantastic off the Sunrise Chair, advanced riders can explore more than 400 acres of steep and deep in the Outback, and, for those who prefer their skiing a little more horizontal, the resort offers an additional 55 kilometres of Nordic trails. Don’t miss the Boxing Day Torchlight Parade and Fireworks. Opening Day for the 2017/18 season is December 8.
Marble Mountain Resort, Steady Brook, Nfld.
Marble Mountain Resort in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Humber Valley has a peak elevation of more than 1,700 feet, covers 230 acres and has been serving winter sports enthusiasts for more than 60 years. The resort boasts Atlantic Canada’s highest vertical drop, its only high-speed detachable quad and an average annual snowfall of 16 feet. There is plenty of challenging terrain for intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders, with 39 trails and a mini mogul trail. Open late on Fridays for night skiing, the resort also offers “zero lift lines” and an extensive ski school program. Marble Mountain’s scheduled opening date is December 26, 2017. It could be earlier, depending on weather.
Apex Mountain Resort, Penticton, B.C.
Named Canada’s Best Small Destination Resort by Ski Canada Magazine, the Apex Mountain Resort is quickly gaining recognition for its dry champagne powder, with an average of 19 feet falling each year. The resort has also become a National Training Centre for Moguls and Aerials. Its six-minute high-speed quad ride, 2,000 feet of vertical and four terrain parks make it a firm family favourite. Beginners can warm their toes in the Billy Goat Hut before cruising down Grandfather’s Trail, while powder hounds can venture out to the steep chutes of The Gun Runs, a double-black area on the north side of the mountain where the light fleecy powder stays for days. Apex is expected to open on December 2 for the 2017/18 season.
Lakeridge Ski Resort, Uxbridge, Ont.
Located fewer than 70 km from downtown Toronto in Oak Ridge Moraine, Lakeridge Resort features 23 runs over 70 acres. The terrain is perfect for those new to downhill skiing, but also caters to more experienced riders with mogul runs and three dedicated snowboard terrain parks. Three quads, a handle tow and a magic carpet on the bunny hill make getting around a breeze, but the close proximity to T-Dot means the hill can get busy with school groups, so some careful planning is required by those looking to get out of the city for a cheeky snow day.
Owl’s Head Estrie, Quebec
Overlooking Lake Memphremagog in the southeast of Quebec, Owl’s Head Resort has been hosting skiers for more than 50 years and offers 175 acres of skiable terrain with an average annual snowfall of 14.5 feet. Eight lifts serve this family-friendly hill, with access to 52 trails and glades that include panoramic runs like Lilly’s Leap trail and the fourth longest vertical in the province. There is something for every level here, from 15 easy greens to the expert “KICKPOW!” sector, a backcountry zone that can only be accessed by a 4.8 km snowshoe or on touring skis.