Backcountry Cross Country Skiing : The Flats : Revelstoke
The Revelstoke dam on the Columbia River, a few kilometers north of Revelstoke, creates a flooded river plain area south of Revelstoke known as the ‘Flats’. The Flats are in the bottom of the Columbia River valley and do not have any trees, making it a great place to get out on backcountry cross country skis to catch some coveted rays in the wintertime.
There are five common locations to access the Flats, from the Saddle Club or four further areas identified by the distance from town along Airport Way: 4 mile, 6 mile, 9 mile and 12 mile (see coordinates below).
The Saddle Club provides access to the extensive area of the Flats around Machete Island that never floods, but takes a bit more time to get out the prime skiing area. The short road leading to the Saddle Club is plowed in the winter, and provides an area to park. From the parking area (coordinates below), ski down the road that follows the Illecillewaet River. After about 2km, you will reach the Flats and can leave the main trail to pick whatever route you choose! Wait until there is enough snow to cover the long long grass, usually by early January. The best conditions are when there is a solid crust with a skiff of fresh pow on top!
The starting points at 4 mile and 6 mile each access large bays, Montana Bay and Cartier Bay respectively. The water in the bays and other areas on the Flats is usually low enough to leave elevated spots for skiing on. When the Flats are flooded, the Saddle Club or the unplowed road at 12 mile is a great option for forested skiing on the edge of the Flats.
RAD adventure tip: The Flats are a great place to catch some rays in the darkest days of a grey Revelstoke winter! Head out on a sunny day around 11am to catch the rays before the sun goes behind the mountains as early as 2pm!
Access: To reach the Flats, travel south from Revelstoke towards Airport Way. The Saddle Club starting point is reached by turning down the gravel road the goes West, immediately South of the Illecillewaet vehicle bridge (when leaving the Revelstoke town centre, the road is a right turn immediately after crossing the bridge). To reach the remaining access points, continue on Airport Way past the airport. 4 mile access point is on Montana Bay, continue around to the next bay to 6 mile on Cartier Bay. Going further is 9 mile and finally 12 mile. Airport Road is plowed in the winter up to where the Akolkolex Forest Service Road begins at approximately 11 mile – park here and ski the road down to 12 mile.
When to go: When snow is on the ground in Revelstoke, usually early December to early April.
Trip rating: A1
Saddle Club: N50.98500° W118.18323°
4 Mile: N50.94333° W118.17005°
6 mile: N50.93460° W118.15562°
9 Mile Access: N50.90060° W118.12070°
Airport Way at Akolkolex FSR (end of plowed road): N50.87852° W118.09757°