Winter playgrounds in Vancouver

Winter playgrounds don’t get much better than Cypress Mountain, just 30 minutes from downtown to the west of Vancouver.  The ski resort was host to the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events for the 2010 Winter Olympics, held in a number of venues in the city, and acts as a magnet for winter sports fans as well as having a host of activities for summer visitors.

But it’s the snow that folks come for, and as a keen skier myself I was able to join the many thousands who flock to the trails to try their hand on the well-kept slopes. Cypress Mountain is ideal for all levels of skiers, with plenty of easy tracks, some more difficult ones and then the ones only for the very experienced.

The resort is split into two areas, the Alpine for downhill skiing and boarding and the Nordic for cross-country. Cypress Mountain is part of the North Shore Mountains and has the largest vertical rise in the area. There are more than 50 runs for downhill skiing and riding, with six chairlifts and a couple of surface lifts to get you to the top. For cross country fans there are over 19 kilometers of well-groomed trails, again aimed at all ranges of experience.

For beginners, or those who want to build up their knowledge and experience further, there are ski schools for downhill and cross country skiing so it’s easy to develop skills, and for those who don’t have their own equipment there are rentals for skis, skate skis and snowshoes together with a limited amount of rentals for over boots and clothing. This is especially handy if you’re only an occasional skier.

Add in a snow tubing park that’s great for parties, a sliding area for the under sixes who can bring their own sled, and opportunities to trek along snowshoe trails, and Cypress Mountain becomes a one-stop shop for winter sports.

It’s also worth checking out the eateries on the mountain. The Alpine area has the Cypress Creek Grill, the Crazy Raven Bar & Grill and the Gold Medal Café, and the Nordic Area has the historic Hollyburn Lodge and the Nordic Café.