In case you missed it, we've introduced our challenge to you for 2014-- 52 Weeks of Trails. Each week we'll blog about a trail (hike, bike, snowshoe, and paddle!) and we hope you enjoy and share your experience with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and/or Instagram using #52weeksoftrails. Happy Trails!
Week #6- Dakota Ridge Winter Recreation Area
If you’ve followed our blog in the past, you’ve likely read one of our blog posts on Dakota Ridge, including a recent one just this past December. Rather than give you all the Dakota Ridge basics again, let’s just dive into the trails themselves, and if you need more info – be sure to visit the Dakota Ridge website. What’s more, this is the perfect week to visit Dakota Ridge; this Monday, February 10th, is Family Day and the SCRD is offering free access to Dakota Ridge for families all day!
If you are planning to snowshoe, head up the Balsam Loop/Ridge Walker trail, located just to the right of the main map board. You’ll cross several “intersections” with cross country ski trails that run perpendicular to the snowshoe trail—so always be on the lookout for skiers. Once you’ve passed the last ski intersection, you’ll head up a bit further before coming to a fork- where you’ll be choosing to head left to the top of Dakota Ridge on the Ridge Walker trail, or to right onto the Balsam Loop trail. The Ridge Walker trail is a bit more uphill, but provides a longer hike and the trail winds over frozen ponds and opens up into almost meadow like conditions—full of pristine snow. Take the loop around and then head back down the trail, where you will connect with the Balsam Loop. Should you choose to go right at the fork, the Balsam Loop is where the wide open views await you. On a clear day, you can see as far as Mt. Baker in Washington State, as well as the coastal mountains, Vancouver Island, and plenty of ocean in-between. Once you’ve soaked in your views (and hopefully taken lots of photos!), this trails loops around and back to the map board at the base next to the warming hut and the parking lot.
Overall, there are 8km snowshoe trails and 19km of cross country ski trails, but with many loops it’s easy to go for a couple hours or a full day. Season passes and day passes can be purchased at the Sechelt Aquatic Centre or at the Gibsons & Area Community Centre. Day passes can also be purchased at the Dakota Ridge trailhead once season begins (exact fee amount required), at Alpha Adventures, and Source for Sports in Sechelt.
Photo courtesy of Alpha Adventures
· Direction to Dakota Ridge: To access Dakota Ridge, turn north off Highway 101 onto Field Road (between Sechelt and Roberts Creek). At the end of Field Road, turn right onto the logging road, and follow the signs up the rest of the way (about 14km total drive). It is a good idea to have your chains on or at the ready before moving into the snow zone. The Sunshine Coast Regional District, in cooperation with community volunteers, maintains the road to Dakota Ridge and the trail system. For those not prepared to drive in winter conditions, Alpha Adventures in the Wilson Creek Plaza offers a shuttle service, as well as day ticket sales, snowshoe and ski rentals, tours, lessons, and sales.
· Map: Dakota Ridge (courtesy of SCRD)
· Geocaches- there is 1 geocache in the park. If geocaching is new for you, it’s a real-world treasure hunt, so don’t miss out on the fun.
Share your hiking adventure with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using hashtag #52weeksoftrails