The Comox Valley’s All Season, Outdoor Playground
Some say Vancouver Island has it all, and most locals would agree. The Comox Valley especially is a treasure trove of pretty much any kind of natural feature available: Beaches, rivers, waterfalls, forests and, king of them all, Mt. Washington. After having been recently purchased and finally seeing the piles of snow locals were worried had fled the mountains for good, Mount Washington is getting back into the swing of things. There’s something to do during any season – it is the ultimate, all-season backyard playground.
Of course, winter is the go-to season for Mt. Washington. With an 11m average of snowfall, it boasts some of the deepest packs in Canada. Besides the Alpine resort, there are numerous Nordic features in Paradise Meadows including cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Plenty of people take their snowmobiles out to play and there is O-Zone tubing and backcountry hiking, plus skiing to top it off. With 60 runs, 6 chairlifts and 55km of Nordic trails, there’s something for everyone in the winter. Top it off with an après and a snowball fight and it makes for the perfect day.
Oftentimes, the snow lasts well into excellent spring skiing conditions. The end of the ski season brings with it numerous events including contests like the Slush Cup and the Downhill Dummy Race. Things are beginning to shape up for the summer season, but there is still plenty of great snow and great times to be had.
Summer marks a new season of its own if there’s leftover snow to be had: Snowmer. Conditions permitting, Father’s Day weekend features a re-opening of some of the Alpine skiing trails at the resort. Feel free to get your bronze on skiing in your bikini; just hold on tight to that top if you take a tumble.
At a bit lower of an elevation, the snow is finally (mostly) melted, and Paradise Meadows and Strathcona Park hiking trails are in full swing. Take a dip in a chilly, snowmelt-fed mountain lake, feed the Whiskey Jacks on the palm of your hand and hit the trails for camping and fun.
Once the Alpine snow has finally all melted, there is plenty of hiking, as well as scenic chairlift rides and various, summertime events. Just look out for those mountain bikers though, as the Mt. Washington bike park has finally reopened. With about 13 trails as the bike season progresses, riders of all experience and styles can finally live up the summers again at their local mountain.
As the Valley waits with baited breath for the first sign of ski season, avid hikers and mountain bikers will be making the best out of the last warm days. Paradise Meadows and Strathcona’s trails see plenty of traffic in the fall and are stunning as the scattered maples begin to change colour. The brisk air is perfect for a mountain wander with the right gear. Coming into September, the bike park begins to wind down and prepare for when the burms and jumps are covered in the fluffy white stuff.
Visiting the Valley at anytime of year guarantees you can find something to do up Mount Washington. With stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, the Valley below and Strathcona Park, it’s worth checking out – even if you just snag a beer at the bar and take in the view.
Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk
Feature photo by: Iwona Kellie