The camaraderie of it all

The Northern Lights Snowmobile Club of Barrhead, Alberta, boasts a great group of people with a love for the sport

by Kristen Mitchell

A group of riders in snowmobile gear stand outside a green corrugated cabin in the snow.
A group from the Northern Lights Snowmobile Club in Barrhead, Alberta, stops outside the Flatbush cabin. Photo courtesy Al Breitkreitz

The Northern Lights Snowmobile Club of Barrhead, Alberta, has been around for a while and, at 115 members, it is a comfortable size. Nonetheless, its members maintain a tight community and a pure enjoyment of the sport.

Al Breitkreitz, the president of the club, has been a member since—well, before there was a club. A private group in the area used to call themselves the 600 Club, since every member drove a 600 cc machine. They erected a cabin that was later donated and still serves as the Shoal Lake cabin.

"Basically, my love of snowmobiling has been what has kept me involved,” said Breitkreitz. “I really felt a need for somebody to take a stand—to keep the sport viable in the area. We cross a lot of farmland and I respect the farmers' wishes, so we’ve made an ASA (Alberta Snowmobile Association) trail and all the farmers love it. I just wanted to help my sport.”

Out and about

The Northern Lights Snowmobile Club now has three primary riding areas, all with cabins. Shoal Lake is a favourite as it’s only 20 kilometres out of Barrhead and features 25 square kilometres of open play area. Goodridge Lake is also a fun option that has a trail leading right to the Flatbush cabin. From here, riders can link to the Trans Canada Trail network.

Sledding conditions are generally favourable, with 2012-2013 having been a particularly good year thus far. The north side of Barrhead offers an expanse of open area with lots of opportunity to play. What's more, both the town and county are sled friendly.

A social sport

Breitkreitz especially enjoys the community and social aspects of snowmobiling. He has been riding around Barrhead for a long time and is very familiar with the area. Some of his favourite rides have involved showing others what he knows.

“Most of the guys in my group like to go out on what they call ‘an adventure with Al,’ " he said. "I lead them through some of my old favourite places. I know where all the hills are and the sled-friendly farmers as well as the places with the jumps. I recently took a group of about seven club members and we went out looking to possibly make a new trail system. I led them through where I thought we should go and everybody had such a great day. It was beautiful—lots of hills, a wiener roast. I really enjoy the camaraderie of it all."

At-a-glance >> Northern Lights Snowmobile Club

Formed in: 1999
President: Al Breitkreitz
Members: 115
Groomer operators: Al Breitkreitz, Dale Bentz, Terry Pickrell
Groomed trails: 20 km. Additional signed trail.
Main trails: Shoal Lake, Goodridge Lake, Flatbush Cabin
More info: Northern Lights Facebook group

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