Things To Do
Summer & Spring
- Copper Point 250-341-3392
- Coy’s Par 3 250-345-6504
- Eagle Ranch 250-342-0562
- Fairmont Creekside 250-345-6660
- Fairmont Mountainside 250-345-6514
- Fairmont Riverside 250-345-6346
- Radium Resort 250-347-6266
- Radium Springs 250-347-6200
- Th’ Flats 250-349-5266
- Windermere Valley 250-342-3004
Quads and other motorized vehicles are not permitted on the Crown Land to the south. Please respect your neighbour’s quiet use of their cabin by not riding around on the community roadways either. In addition, they are not legal on our roadways and you may be fined by the RCMP.
Our community has been acting as stewards for the Crown Land to the south of Columbia Ridge through careful usage and planned clean ups. The vegetation is very fragile and motorized vehicles are not permitted in the area. Our care of the Crown Land helped prevent development of the property into a campground in the past and through our continued respect we can help retain this pristine property for everyone’s enjoyment.
Camping is not legally permitted on vacant lots due to Regional District by-laws and zoning. Construction trailers are permitted only while building is in progress.
- Fairmont 250-345-6029
- Panorama 250-342-6941
- Kimberley 250-427-1333
As we all know, Columbia Lake settles into a frozen state for at least four months of the year. How it sets up for skating is often dependent on the first freeze. Was it cold and dry or was it wet and snowy? The best ice forms when we get a good, dry, cold snap without any precipitation or wind. The ice surface forms smoothly with few surface imperfections to trip over. If it remains cold, any snow that falls in weeks to come gets blown away leaving a smooth glassy surface.
These are the best conditions for ice skating. When this happens, you can often skate the entire length of lake and enjoy long smooth glides.
Of course, things can go terribly wrong if the weather warms up to the point that wet snow, or (shudder) rain falls on the ice. Clumps of snow on the ice melt and freeze to the ice leaving a pebbly, pock marked surface. When this happens there isn’t much you can do but breathe a heavy sigh and hope for the better ice next year.
Right below Columbia Ridge you often see a mix of ice and drifts of snow. Each year ice rinks are cleared and trails plowed for skating. But, as mentioned, the quality of the skating experience is fully dependent on the initial freeze. Maybe in the future we can get a pump down on the lake and flood a section for a smoother rink.
From my experience, the best place to ice skate on Columbia Lake is at the south end of the lake at the provincial park. Here the ice is smooth and usually snow free. The further down the lake you progress the lumpier it seems to become.
Please note the road down to the lake is often not suitable for use in winter – vehicles can get stuck and towing companies may refuse to respond. Even walking can be treacherous due to icy conditions.
The Whiteway is turning into a full on winter recreational venue. Not only are there plowed ice skating paths, they are expanding this year with numerous rinks for public skating and ice hockey. It is great to see the community of Invermere pulling together to create such a wonderful winter experience for residents and visitors alike.
The lake isn’t a man made skating rink. Remember this. Weather conditions, where you are and temperature can all affect the quality of ice below your feet. There are warm springs in Columbia that are often found along the shoreline that can produce thinner ice. Always be aware of your surroundings and check the ice depth, especially early in the season, before venturing out. For more information on ice safety, check out this link to the Canadian Red Cross Web page. They have a ton of information when playing on ice. You can find their website here.
All you really need is a pair of skates and you are good to go. Hockey skates and figure skates both work well but if you really want to rip up the lake, consider a pair of speed skates or a hybrid called the Nordic Skater. Speed skates can be costly but the Nordic Skater, designed in Sweden where snow and ice culture is engrained in every living soul, was invented for outdoor skating and is relatively inexpensive.
The Nordic Skater is designed for use on open ice and for long distance cross country skating. These blades are mounted onto a plate that supports the most common cross country bindings allowing you to wear your comfy XC ski boots instead of a cold leather skate. The blades themselves are longer and flatter than a hockey blade for better glide but have a turned up tip to get over the occasional rough patch of ice that you may encounter. I have been wanting to get a set of these babies for a few years now but haven’t quite made the plunge yet. The price range varies from $130 to $300 if you have boots. You will spend more if you want a new set of boots as well. If you are interested, check out the Web page here.
It is a busy, disorganized webpage but has some good information on it. Look for the link that says “Nordic Skate Homepage”. This will take you to a little video that will give you some more information and get you enthused to get out on the ice. The shop is in the US and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t find any distributors in Canada for this product.
Do you want the simplest, easiest way to get outside and enjoy the winter? Do you cringe at having to squeeze your feet into tight plastic boots and then clamp those onto slippery long sticks? Does going fast terrify you? Well if that is the case, snowshoeing might be your answer to getting outside and enjoying winter.
When you think of snowshoeing I bet you envision a large, bearded fellow, all covered with furs tromping through the forest with a musket slung over his shoulder. You see his long, wooden snowshoes, strung with catgut, stamping out large diamond shaped patterns in the snow as he trudges along looking for critters on his trapline. It is an iconic look; a very Canadian look, that stirs the adventurous spirit in us to explore beyond our own boundaries and limitations. To search for something we didn’t know was there before.
Snowshoeing has changed little since the days of our musket carrying forefathers. You can still buy wooden snowshoes that are almost the same as the ones they wore, right down to the catgut (which I donÂ’t think actually comes from cats but from sheep and cattle) at your local hardware store. They will get soft and stink when wet and the bindings will get loose and sloppy but for a few bucks you can be trudging along just like they did.
Or, you can invest in the new aluminum or plastic snowshoes that are so popular nowadays. These upgrades on the classic design are lighter, stronger and have solid binding systems that will stay firmly attached to your feet for as long as you want them to. They come in many shapes and sizes and as many price points depending on how much you want to spend or what your intended use is. Throw in a pair of poles for added stability and you are ready to tackle the great outdoors.
Cross country skiing is, in its purest form, the most simple, and accessible form of skiing. Anyone can do it. All you have to do is clip into a pair of skis and shuffle along any snowy surface and you are skiing. Almost anywhere a blanket of snow has been draped across the surface of the landscape you can go cross country skiing.
I really enjoy getting out on my skis and gliding through the silent, winter wilderness. When you get a good rhythm going the scenery flows by like a river and you forget that it was cold out when you started. Cross country skiing is a great way to get some exercise during those long winter months when you would rather be snuggled up in front of a warm fire. Let the fire wait. Light the fire inside first and enjoy what winter has to offer.
Your best bet for learning more about cross country skiing in the valley is to check out the Toby Creek Nordic ClubÂ’s web site. They do a lot to promote the sport of cross country skiing in the valley and their web page is loaded with information on where to go, programs available and race schedules. Check it out here.
When I first moved to Columbia Ridge, I envisioned being able to establish a trail network right out the back door in the crown land to the south of the neighbourhood. This only seems to be a reality during the best of snow years, which I have discovered really only ever amounts to a few inches at best.
The lake also offers an option for skiing but the wind often removes most of the snow from the ice. It is best to stick to the edges where the snow tends to accumulate. The tricky part of skiing on the lake is getting to it. The road down to the shore is treacherous, making the descent on skis something more akin to skiing down Everest. I recommend walking down but that too is wrought with danger. Make sure you strap some of those rubberized crampons to your boots for the journey up and down the hill.
If the conditions permit, the lake and the surrounding crown land offer the closest most accessible XC skiing around. If you want a truly enjoyable day on the skis, you are going to have to do a bit of driving. Here are my three top recommendations for a day on the snow.
The Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club maintains the Whiteway on Lake Windermere. This new venture started just a few years ago and has been getting a ton of use. The Whiteway is groomed for both classic and skate skiing and is great for beginners and families as it is flat as a pancake. There is a user fee of $5 but you should go all the way and get a membership with the Toby Creek Nordic Club for a mere $30 per person or $80 per family and help promote the sport of XC skiing in the valley.
Nipika Mountain Resort
This little jewel is tucked up against Kootenay National Park one hour from Columbia Ridge. To access it, head over Sinclair Pass into Kootenay Park and then turn right onto Settlers Road. Twelve km in, you will come to Nipika and 50 km of impeccably groomed trails for your XC entertainment. I highly recommend checking it out as even during the busy season you will find yourself wondering where everyone is.
The trails are flipping awesome with levels for all people. Warming huts dot the landscape and the views are stunning with natural bridges, waterfalls and towering mountains.
There is a great vibe out there with friendly, helpful people. The day lodge has a large area to eat your lunch and a wax room so you can get your skis ready for the day. Cabins are available for rent if you wish to make a weekend out of it.
More information on Nipika can be found on its Web page.
Located at the Kimberley Ski Resort, the Kimberley Nordic Centre is managed by the members of the Kimberley Nordic Club. They do an amazing job keeping the trail conditions in top notch shape. The 30km of trails are groomed for both classic and skate skiing and consist of some twisty, rolly beginner loops with nastier intermediate and expert loops linking through the main trails. The facility also boasts the only night skiing trail in the valley. This 3.3 km beginner’s loop is well lit and a great way to burn off a dinner from a night out in town.
Fees for the trails are $10/day up to a maximum of $25 per family.
Our community owns 2 white and green kayaks and 1 orange kayak. We also have 3 canoes – 1 red, 1 green and a blue/teal canoe and 2 paddle boats. These are community assets paid for through your community dues. After using these watercraft ensure that they are properly secured as they can easily float away. High water and strong winds have blown boats to the far north end of the lake and several times the boats were very difficult to find and retrieve.
Please drive slowly and watch for oncoming vehicles. The road is narrow and often people are walking and biking on it as well. Please note it is not maintained and therefore not suitable for use in winter – vehicles can get stuck and towing companies may refuse to respond.
If you would like to anchor your boat in the lake below Columbia Ridge please contact the mooring coordinator at email@example.com to be assigned a moor. Please see the Moorage and Dock Use Policy and Rules under the Members Area.
Please note that no one should be walking on the railway tracks. Please make sure to advise your children and guests as well. CP Rail can impose very heavy fines ($10,000) on an individual for being on the tracks and the Community Association could lose our Crossing Agreement and thus our lake access. Crossing is only permitted at the north end below the road.
Please ensure you lock the gate behind you to discourage non-community members from using our facilities, as we do not want to be held responsible or liable for their safety. To obtain the code please contact the Treasurer.
The tennis/pickleball court, next to the community center, is owned by Columbia Ridge Waterworks and maintained and operated by the communities of Columbia Ridge and Spirits Reach for the enjoyment of their members.
Please restrict your game to 45 minutes if others are waiting to play.
Do not bring glass containers. No food or drink are allowed on the playing surface.
Sweep the court prior to play with the provided broom. Only wear soft-soled, non-marking footwear.
Dogs, skateboards, roller-blades, lacrosse, hockey sticks, frisbees, scooters and bicycles are not permitted at anytime.