Four local tips for Hinton winter adventure on fat bikes, skis, snowshoes


Like a lesser-known, northern version of Canmore, Hinton sits at the gateway to the Rockies just east of Jasper National Park, perfectly placed for a mountain basecamp. While many simply drive through on their way to Jasper, others like Kayla Watson and Ben Shuttleworth have discovered Hinton’s wealth of affordable, outdoor opportunities a little closer to Edmonton. 

"My first time seeing the mountains coming up from Edmonton... my first impression was just ‘wow.’” Shuttleworth tells me, after a day on the trails together.

He's right: Hinton's foothills teem with trails backstopped by epic views, making for great fat biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on a winter getaway. 

Athabasca Lookout Jasper National Park Hinton
Photo: Paul Lavoie
Looking out on the eastern front ranges of the Canadian Rockies, from Athabasca Lookout near Hinton.

Hinton: hidden gem of the Rockies

Imagine cruising through a landscape where each snowy vista is a postcard come alive. Whether you’re gliding over the gently sloping nordic terrain or biking winding trails, the scenic backdrop is a constant. 

"It’s such a hidden gem,” says Watson. While Shuttleworth hails from the UK, Watson grew up in Hinton and it was her influence that brought the two world travelers back to her hometown. 

"There’s just so much here: outdoor activities, restaurants, winter events, there are just so many options.”

Mark Tessier and Suzanne Stevenson, another set of locals we connect with, back up Watson's take. 

“There are so many things just out your door– mountain biking trails, hiking, trails at Switzer…snowshoeing, hunting, fishing…all right at your fingertips,” says Stevenson. 

“We also love the people here; there are a lot of young people. It’s affordable. You can see the mountains and afford your house.”

"it’s close to Jasper but without the busy-ness," adds Tessier.

Four local tips for Hinton winter fun 

Here are tips on how to enjoy four of these locals' favourite winter activities in Hinton: fat biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing (or winter hiking) and apres. 

1. Fat biking in Hinton

Fat biking hinton trails
Photo: Karl Lee
The Hinton Mountain Bike Association maintain trails from the bike skills park through the Happy Creek Trail system.

Since about 2010, the Hinton Mountain Bike Association has been expanding its trail network from the bike park just above town, out along Hinton’s rolling foothills. 

It’s a great area for both trail packed and snowy rides. Check in with Vicious Cycle, the local bike hub, to get the latest updates (you can also rent fat bikes here if you don’t have your own). 

2. Hinton's cross-country skiing trails

Hinton cross-country skiing Hinton Nordic Centre
Photo: Karl Lee
A cozy lodge nestles trailside along the groomed tracks at the Hinton Nordic Centre.

With 35km of groomed trails along the eastern foothills of the Rockies in William A. Switzer Provincial Park, the Hinton Nordic Centre is one of alberta’s premiere cross-country skiing destinations. (As with fat bikes, you can also rent cross-country skis at Vicious Cycle.)

3. Snowshoeing & winter hiking with Rockies vistas

Hinton snowshoeing Maxwell Lake Beaver Boardwalk Happy Creek trails
Photo: Paul Lavoie
Kayla Watson and Ben Shuttleworth race across the Beaver pond on snowshoes.

Hinton’s Beaver Boardwalk is a marshy area that freezes over in winter to offer snowshoeing and hiking on established trails, or even skating out on the frozen Maxwell Lake. 

You’ll often see a pickup game of shinny underway and on a clear day, the mountains in the distance. (Safety reminder: always be sure the ice is safe before venturing out; you can find ice safety tips in this feature by Tyler Dixon.)

4. Apres at Folding Mountain Brewing

Folding MOuntain Brewery Hinton
Photo: Paul Lavoie
Check for poutine specials and new concoctions, regularly popping up on the Folding Mountain Brewery menu.

This stunning tap room with wide, west-facing views towards the Rockies glows with late afternoon sun on a winter day. Award-winning IPAS, sours and Kolschs await, along with hearty fare. 

Sitting back in a cozy, leather green bar chair at Folding Mountain after guiding us through a day of adventure, Shuttleworth takes it all in, smiling, “I never get used to the views.” 


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For those who hail from different corners of the world, this town is a treasure trove of natural splendor. “Coming from a different perspective, you can really admire where you are and what you get to do.”

And what you get to do is to immerse yourself in winter sports, warm local hospitality, and the charm of a small town nestled in the majestic Canadian Rocky mountains.

When you go

For a wealth of Hinton travel info, check out the new for 2024 Hinton Rockies website including where to stay, where to eat and things to do in all four seasons.

Be sure to purchase a nordic skiing pass from the Hinton Nordic Centre for trail access, and support the local club. A day pass is $10, and a season pass is $105/adult. Buy your passes here.

Among other things, the Nordic Club provides trail conditions, grooming reports and local updates to help make the best of your trip.

Check out the Hinton bike trails on the HMBA website, here.  

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