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Ready to ski? Dakota Ridge opens Jan 11 after heavy snow

Significant snowfall allows for winter fun at Dakota Ridge

Get your skis shined up! Dakota Ridge will officially open Jan. 11, and will be ready to welcome those who want to get out and enjoy the winter weather. The opening is about a month behind schedule because of the unseasonably warm winter the Coast has experienced so far. 

Thanks to a significant amount of snowfall over the weekend, the recreational area now has enough of a snowpack to support snowshoeing, skiing and sledding, said a Jan 9 release.

Jessica Huntington, manager of parks services at the Sunshine Coast Regional District, which manages the area, said conditions have substantially improved due to the latest weather system that came through, as well as colder temperatures. 

She said that Dakota Ridge received 60 cm of snow over the weekend and that snow has continued to accumulate this week. As of Jan. 10, the snow is at a healthier depth of 80 cm.

Not all of Dakota Ridge area will be open right away, clarified Huntington. The main trails such as Squamish main, Yellow cedar, Wren, Chickadee and Stadium will be ready to receive visitors on Jan. 11.

Huntington explained that staff focus on getting the facility set up and clearing the main trails. As conditions improve and time allows, staff will continue to expand the trail network out to include Blueberry loop and others.  

All-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and snow bikes are not permitted in Dakota Ridge. There is, however, an access trail that can be used by these types of recreational vehicles to get to terrain beyond the Dakota Ridge winter recreation area.

Both the release and Huntington noted the road conditions getting to the ridge. Four-wheel drive vehicles with winter tires and chains are required. The road to Dakota Ridge is an active logging road that combined with winter conditions means residents must use caution, and to be prepared to stop or pull over if they come across a logging truck.

“We do our best to keep it clear and plowed but there's icy snowy, slushy sections, and it's quite narrow in some areas with soft accumulations of snow on the shoulders,”Huntington said. “So everybody just needs to be patient and drive with caution and be prepared.”

Looking forward

With more snow in the forecast for this week, it looks like conditions on the Ridge will remain consistent.

Environment Canada predicts a 60 per cent chance of flurries on Friday, Jan. 12, and then a consistent 40 per cent chance from Jan. 13, to 15.

Temperatures are expected to range from -4 to -9C, so any precipitation that falls is likely to be snow, especially at higher elevations such as Dakota Ridge. 

In an interview with Glacier Media, Alyssa Charbonneau, meteorologist at Environment Canada explained that the winter storm has been making its way through B.C., with interior regions receiving up to 20 cm of snow.  

Although this weather has been a stark change for some, Charbonneau said that a storm like this that brings winter weather to many different parts of the province is typical this time of year.

“I think it's notable because it has been so warm, so mild, the highways have been relatively dry and we haven't had a lot of winter weather to deal with up until now,” she said.

The winter conditions won’t be leaving with the storm. Charbonneau added that when the weather system passes over, some very cold air will be moving in behind it.

“Can't count winter over yet, it's really important to take all those precautions that we maybe haven't had to think about recently and start to put those in front of mind,” she said.

– With files from Alanna Kelly

Jordan Copp is the Coast Reporter’s civic and Indigenous affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.