First Timers Guide


Thanks to Mount Pakenham's snow making capabilities, our season generally runs from mid-December to mid-March. We are open Tuesday to Saturday from 9am-9pm, Sunday 9am-5pm and Holiday Mondays 9am-5pm.

Mount Pakenham is the best place to learn, no matter when you decide to come!

Getting Here is Easy…

Just a short drive from Ottawa; only 25 minutes west of Kanata, getting here is easy. There's no need to fight heavy traffic on bridges, we're just around the corner. Click here for directions.


We are open almost every day in any sort of winter weather including snow, rain, and cold. Mount Pakenham has the best grooming and snowmaking in the area which helps keep our snow and ski conditions safe in all weather. We make snow on every run in December and groom all runs every night. Even if you don't have snow in your backyard, we will have snow at Mount Pakenham from December until the end of March.

*RAIN - Although in general skiing in the rain doesn't appeal to many, the conditions are usually very soft and forgiving and the hill is quiet. It is also a great time to learn to snowboard. We have free rain ponchos.

*FREEZING RAIN - Our great grooming breaks up the ice creating a soft enough surface for people to dig in their edges and poles. You will be surprised how good the skiing can be after our grooming equipment has been out on the mountain.

*FRESH POWDER - If you haven't tried skiing powder, Mount Pakenham is a great place to start. In fact, Mount Pakenham is the best place to try anything new due to its gentle terrain.

*EXTREME COLD - When it is extremely cold outside, Mount Pakenham is a great choice for a ski/board destination. Being a smaller hill, you can usually make it up and down a few times before you have to warm up. Snow suits are made for Canadian winter weather and will keep you warm.

Mount Pakenham's instructors are trained to deal with all weather conditions. They know to keep their classes moving and watch for signs of frostnip in extremely cold conditions. They will also take class warm up breaks in the lodge or one of our on-hill warm-up huts. In hard or fast conditions, the classes will slow down and use gentle terrain. The instructors will also introduce or focus on edging skills. When it is foggy or visibility is reduced, the instructors will have the class sing or count loudly. When it is raining outside or wet snow, we will provide rain ponchos and keep the class as warm and dry as possible.

 How to dress your child for their ski or snowboard lesson:

Dress in layers.  Layering for winter sports allows you to accommodate your body’s constantly changing temperature.  Generally, layering is divided into three areas.

  1. Wicking layer (polypropylene underwear – top and bottoms) – “wicks” or moves moisture away from your skin and dries quickly.
  2. Insulating layer (wool, fleece, sweater) – keeps heat in and cold out.
  3. Weather Protection – repels water/snow and block the wind while letting perspiration evaporate (both jackets and pants). Choose lightweight garment that is made of waterproof, breathable material. There are several synthetic materials on the market and are available at most big chain stores (Walmart, Joe Fresh, Mountain Equipment Co-Op, Kunstadt Sports and Sport Check, to name a few). When buying skiwear, look for fabric that is water and wind resistant.  Look for wind flaps to shield zippers, snug cuffs and collars that can be snugged up to the chin and drawstrings that can be adjusted for comfort and to keep wind out.

Keeping your hands, feet and head warm.

For your hands – choose gloves or mittens that are waterproof, breathable and well insulated.  Mittens are usually better for those susceptible to cold hands. If you have them, bring an extra pair to keep on hand in the event your hands get wet.  Wet hands = Cold hands.

For your feet – bring a pair of light to medium weight socks to change into before you put your ski or snowboard boots on.  If the sock is too thick or if you’re wearing too many, it could make your boots too tight, reducing circulation which causes cold feet.  Dry socks are key to keeping your feet warm!

For your head – Helmets are recommended for skiing and snowboarding and are included in every rental package Mount Pakenham offers.  It is important to wear a properly fitted ski/snowboard specific helmet.  Helmets should fit snuggly and not obstruct vision.  Helmets can be worn with or without a light head covering underneath such as a balaclava.  Thick hats or hats with pom-poms will not allow the helmet to sit properly on the head and should therefore be avoided.  A lot of helmets have insulation so (unless it’s a really cold day), you should be fine without anything underneath it.  On those cold days, wearing goggles and a neck warmer (neck tubes or gators) can help to keep your face warm.  The use of goggles and/or sunglasses can also allow you to see better and help to protect your eyes from the bright snow and harmful UV rays. 

If your child is dressed properly there should be no issues getting through their lesson. 

You can find more information for dressing for the slopes HERE


Once you've parked your car, proceed to pick up your tickets (either at the outside Ticket Window or Front desk - indicated on the sign at the front of the lodge doors).  If you have a discover or private ski or snowboard lesson, you will need to enter the main Lobby to check in.  Multi-day/week programs will be emailed the week before the start date with day one instructions.

No equipment? Don't worry! Mount Pakenham's Rental Shop has top of the line skis, snowboards, boots, bindings, and helmets (helmets are included with all rental packages) Mount Pakenham's Rental Shop is located to the left of the Main Lodge, when you are looking at the hill. When renting equipment, an online waiver must be completed before arrival. A parent/guardian must sign the waiver for anyone under the age of 18
If you have your own equipment, or if you plan to borrow equipment, please bear in mind that equipment must be adjusted specifically for you so that the binding may release properly when needed. To be safe on the slopes, you can have our certified technician adjust your equipment based on your accurate height, weight, shoe size, and level of ability. Please ensure that your equipment has been tuned (waxed and sharpened). Properly tuned equipment will give you more control on the slopes. 
If you are interested in purchasing equipment at a great price there may be used equipment available. Stay tuned for information about Mount Pakenham's "Ski Swap" Equipment Sale.

Follow these steps:

  1. Layer Up - Put on final layers of clothing.
  2. Store personal belongings in car, cubby or locker.
  3. Get equipment.

To get the right boot fit, be sure to wear the proper socks (see Dressing for the Weather). The boot should fit like a sock with no pressure points. Be sure that your pants are not tucked into the boot.

Storing Your Personal Belongings

We encourage you to use your vehicle for bag storage and booting up as there is limited indoor storage. We recommend leaving valuables at home or locking them in your car. 

Mount Pakenham has regular and locking ski racks located outside the lodge. Ski locks are available at the Retail Shop. Equipment is not permitted inside the lodge. Please use the racks.

Learning to ski/ride

Although skiing and snowboarding is a great way to stay in shape; we recommend you prepare yourself for the slopes by doing a little prep work at home. Concentrate on your cardiovascular fitness, your legs and your core strength.

Take Learning to New Heights...Take a Lesson : Instruction helps the beginner and benefits skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. Like anything, you'll improve the most when you receive some guidance. The best way to become a good skier or snowboarder is to take a lesson from a qualified instructor.

Group lessons are available for aged 6+. Private lessons are available for all ages. We offer lessons 6 days a week and we are able to work around your busy schedule. Our DISCOVER LESSON (lesson, lift, rental) packages are a great way to learn to ski/ride.

Eat a hearty meal before the lesson and for the most possible fun, bring along a friend and learn together! During your lesson be active, open to trying new things. Ask questions; our instructors want you to get the most out of your lesson. Don't be afraid to go first. Let your instructor know how you like to learn. Dress appropriately and be prepared to work up a sweat. Click here to learn more about Mount Pakenham's lesson options.

When you are on the slopes, be sure to drink plenty of water and be careful not to become dehydrated. If you're tired, stop skiing. Learn to ski and snowboard smoothly-and in control. Stop before you become fatigued and, most of all have fun.


Trail Marking Symbols and Trail Map

Take a few minutes to check out the lifts and the trails marked on the trail map. Click Here for details.  The colored symbols next to the trails indicate the difficulty of the trail. You will also find them on posted signs on the mountain. 

Before you ride a lift, make sure the trail symbols off of that lift fit your ability. If you have any questions or need directions, go talk to a lift attendant or anyone in a Mount Pakenham uniform.

If you find yourself on a slope that exceeds your ability level, always leave your skis/snowboard on and side step or sideslip down the slope. If you need assistance while on the hill, Mount Pakenham's Patrollers are always around and would be happy to assist you.

Time to Refuel- Where to Eat

Mount Pakenham's cafeteria has a full menu, ranging from pizza and salad to burgers and poutine. Whether you want a quick snack or a full meal, you will find it in the Cafeteria. Snacks and drinks are also available in the Lounge and on sunny days, you won't be able to resist the aroma coming from our outdoor BBQ.

If you choose to pack your own lunch, you can find seating at the outdoor picnic tables or the Algonquin Room in front of the lodge. 
Weekend Tip: eat lunch between 11am and noon or 1pm and 2pm to avoid crowds.

Ski and Snowboard Additions or Alternatives

Mount Pakenham is a complete Winter Outdoor Recreation Centre. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, we offer; 10 km of snowshoe trails, and snowshoeing, orienteering, and nature discovery as part of our Experiential "Wonder" Program. With all of these fun and exciting options, there's no need to hibernate this winter.

For the latest news about Mount Pakenham, please see our Instagram or Facebook Page.



Updated July 2023