You’ll find Lake Windermere in the Columbia Valley between the Rocky Mountains to the east and the Purcell Mountains to the west. The lake is the winter home of the Whiteway, a recently declared Guinness World Record holder with the title as the longest naturally frozen skating trail in the world with 29.8 kilometres of cleared ice.
By the time December rolls around and the lake is frozen solidly, the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club goes to work. A six metre wide path of ice is cleared around the circumference of the lake. When they started back in 2008, only a 15 kilometre loop was cleared. Now it’s the whole lake and it’s officially 29.8 kilometres (18.5 miles) long. The snow is moved to one side of the cleared ice – and it’s that snow that becomes the base for skiing. The snow is track-set but there’s also enough room for skate skiers.
The Whiteway is a superb family-friendly outing.
You can do short or long loops on skates and skis and you can even bring the dog. On a sunny day, the view of the mountains from the lake is outstanding. Skaters and skiers in great shape can knock off the full loop in about two hours.
Mountain biking is also permitted on the ice, but because of the wind chill, it’s a good idea to bring extra face protection.
Cars and trucks are also allowed to drive on the lake, but they are forbidden from using the Whiteway. It appears that ice fishing is popular but only at the northern end of the lake.
The cost is minimal – a mere $5 donation to the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club if you aren’t a member. Look for cash boxes at information kiosks.
Useful Lake Windermere Whiteway Info
- You can rent skates or skis at The Inside Edge Sports Store in Invermere.
- There are three official entrances including the Kinsmen Beach in Invermere, by the Invermere Bay Condos in Invermere and at Windermere Beach.
- Invermere is located 275 kilometres west of Calgary and 17 kilometres south of Radium Hot Springs (a perfect place for a soak after your workout.)
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