Cool Fun in the Winter Sun

Winter in the north can be a six-month event, so we might as well enjoy it! Make the most of the cold sunny days and long starlit nights between November and March with this itinerary through beautiful Clear Hills County. The wide open spaces and barely-disturbed nature of the area make this an ideal place to get away and unplug for a few days while still enjoying all the comforts of home. Just remember to bundle up!

Food and Board:

Clear Hills County is home to a several small, big-hearted communities that would love to make you feel right at home.

Stay at the fully renovated historic Hines Creek Hotel and enjoy delicious home-cooked food and personable service in the onsite restaurant and bar, as well as offsite liquor sales to take with you for later.

The Worsley Gateway Inn offers offsite sales and a restaurant, too, as well as individual rooms and suites in a clean, well-kept facility. They even have free laundry service! Both of these locations are perfect retreats after a day exploring the Great White North.

If you’re heading out into the northern backwoods for the day, be sure to pack a lunch to maximize your winter fun. Or, if your activities allow, stop in at the Whispering Pines Ski Hill Restaurant 20 minutes northwest of Worsley for a bite. Enjoy fresh home-style cooking, including warm cinnamon buns you’ll be raving about for days and dreaming about until you come back for your next fix.

What to Do:

Downhill skiing and snowboarding:

The Whispering Pines Ski Hill is a hidden gem ski retreat for the whole family. Enjoy their T-bars and a tow rope, a wide variety of terrain on the runs, a restaurant and chalet, and natural snow conditions that are typically excellent. Spend an afternoon or a whole day. Open Friday to Sunday and holidays all season long.

Ice skating:

Lace up your skates and enjoy some time on the ice at the Worsley Arena or the Dave Shaw Memorial Complex in Hines Creek. Call the arenas for public skating times and special events.

Ice fishing:

Grab a friend or two and pack up the ice auger, fishing rod, and a thermos or two of cocoa (make it Irish for extra warmth!) and head out to one of the region’s deep lakes for a morning of relaxation and camaraderie. Grill up your catch with a Coleman grill for a delicious lunch on the ice. Or, if you plan for an evening trip on a clear night, enjoy dinner under the dazzling skyscape of stars and aurora borealis. Stocked lakes include Ole’s Lake, Running Lake*, Sulphur Lake*, and Stoney Lake* (a.k.a. Montagneuse Lake). (Psst… make sure you have your fishing license.) *Currently closed until further notice*

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing:

Strap on the skis and enjoy the groomed public-access trails at Cummings Lake and the Sand Hills (20 km of trails altogether), which are maintained by the Dunvegan Nordic Ski and Cycle Club. Get more information about current conditions from Bob Walsh at dunvegan.nordic@gmail.com or 780-835-4652.

Whispering Pines Ski Hill is another great spot for both cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, with dedicated trails for the purpose. Plus, you can have fresh cinnamon buns when you get back to the chalet!

Snowmobiling:

Alberta Snowmobile Association members with an active trail pass can use the Smith Mills Trail system maintained by the Peace Valley Snow Riders club. Enjoy magnificent winter landscape along the 60 km run from Stoney Lake to Figure Eight Lake near Grimshaw. The club has plans to open another trail near Hines Creek in the winter of 2019 as well.