BC’s Newest Ski Area—and it’s Free!

🕔Dec 01, 2011

That’s right—free powder for everyone! Five alpine bowls, ten cut ski runs and a great cabin sitting at treeline.

The newest ski area in British Columbia is unusual in many ways. No lifts, no line-ups, no costs, no condos, no greasy fries. It’s all about human-powered outdoor fun. Backcountry skiers and snowshoers have been enjoying the area for two years now and the resurrection of that “old mountain culture” is growing stronger as time goes by.

Halfway up the province and sitting on the east slope of the Coast Range near Smithers, the Hankin-Evelyn Recreation Area is accessed on a recently re-activated and maintained logging road. Offering terrain for all abilities, this new (old) concept is about exercise, fresh air and friendships—an inexpensive option in today’s fast-paced world.

The vision for this project originated with local backcountry skiers Jay Gilden and Brian Hall. With support from Kevin Eskelin—District Recreation Officer for the Nadina-Skeena Recreation District—and a bit of luck in getting some grant/tax money back into the northern economy, Hankin-Evelyn was born. With goals of supporting the growth of the old mountain culture and working towards a healthy community, the Hankin-Evelyn project has been a success.

Located 35 minutes NW of Smithers, this area encompasses 3,770 hectares and is managed jointly by the provincial government (Recreation Sites and Trails BC) and the Bulkley Backcountry Ski Society. Much of the maintenance for the area is provided by volunteers through an adopt-a-trail system, and local support has been overwhelming. Last winter saw 2,000 visits from locals and travellers as young and old alike came out to enjoy this new facility.

Area maps, photos, access information and events schedules can be found on the BBSS website: www.bbss.ca. We hope this winter will find you checking out the skiing here.

Area bonus: heaps of dry snow, 2,500 vertical feet, cut ski-runs for bad-weather days…all minutes away from a real mountain town loaded with amenities. While in the area, check out Ski Smithers and Shames Mountain, too. Ski the lifts when it’s snowing and head to the backcountry after the storm.

Directions and Details
Locate the sign for the Hankin-Evelyn Recreation Area on Highway 16 at Kitseguecla Lake Road (24 km west of Smithers, 8 km east of Moricetown). Turn here and head 9 km up Kitseguecla Lake Road to a second Hankin-Evelyn sign, where you turn left on the 608 road. The parking lot is 9 km beyond here. This road will be kept open during the coming winter.

On the map above, up-tracks are designated with letters, and ski runs with numbers. At the parking lot, most people head for the warming hut by following the D up-track and then the E up-track (or going right up run 6—an up-track here is in the works for the future). Please note: the warming hut is day-use only.

The map above also shows the difficulty of runs: the old code of green circle, blue square, or black diamond applies. Avalanche terrain is most typically encountered at the tops of runs 1, 2, 3 and 7, and on the F up-track.

Words of caution
This is a backcountry area, and there is no avalanche control. It is possible to get into avalanche terrain. See the bbss.ca website for updates, and use your head. You can email BBSSHankin@gmail.com with questions. Watch for avalanche awareness days (posted on the website), including some specifically for women.