The opportunity for backcountry recreation is one of the main attractions to living in Cranbrook, and there are many different things to do in all four seasons.
With winter upon us, breaking out the skis is a common pastime, especially with the Kimberley Alpine Resort just up the highway.
But for backcountry enthusiasts, there is something a little closer to home.
Heading up Gold Creek Rd. and hooking a right turn onto 38th Ave. will take you right to the South Star Trail head, as the street dead-ends at the trail entrance.
“The thing for our community is it’s really close by, it’s only eight kilometres up there and there’s a multitude of activities you can do—walk, take your dog, cross-country ski, snowshoe,” said Dave Basaraba, the project director for the South Star Recreation Society.
Whether well-known or not, the South Star Trails has proven to be a popular place for cross-country skiers to get outside and enjoy the wintery landscape, according to Basaraba.
“The trail conditions are pretty good,” said Basaraba, who has volunteered with the society for the last six years. “We’ve groomed the trails last Monday. There is lots of use up there—all kinds of people. A great part about the South Star Trails is that they’re very close to the community, so if you want to go cross-country skiing on a groomed track, the only other place to go is Kimberley.”
There are many different trails to chose from that totals up to 30 kilometres in a 1,300-hectare space overseen by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Popular as an easy hiking area in the spring and summer, the South Star Trails are just as enticing in the winter for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
“The snowshoe trail is very well used, there are a lot of people who use it,” said Basaraba. “I was up there this weekend and there’s an average of 20-30 cars there all day coming and going and enjoying the trails.”
There are groomed and tracked trails for cross-country skiing, with some trails dedicated for dog-use.
“There is a canine trail up there where you can walk around with your dog or snowshoe or cross-country ski. It’s six kilometres and there’s a picnic table,” said Basaraba. “There is a nine-kilometre snowshoe loop that you can take your dog on and it goes up to the top.”
Trails are groomed after significant snowfall with the use of snowmobiles and grooming equipment purchased from private donations and funding from the Columbia Basin Trust.
“Most of the money goes towards paying for the maintenance of the equipment that is used to groom the trails,” said Basaraba.
There are two outhouses and picnic tables located on the trail network, plus signage and maps scattered around to help people keep their bearings.