Spoiled for choice

Sledders in Cranbrook don’t have to travel far to find fresh, fluffy snow

by Kirsten Armleder

A snowmobiler in a black helmet on a black and white sled.
Local sledders like Monte Smith (pictured here) love the Wild Horse area for its steep climbs and deep snow. Kirsten Armleder photo

With the mighty Purcell Mountains to the west and the Canadian Rockies to the north and east, it is easy to boast about the sledding opportunities around my town. In virtually any direction, you will find excellent places to ride. And since Cranbrook gets more annual sunshine hours than any other community in B.C., we don’t have to wait until spring to get those beautiful bluebird days.

Lumberton

The recommended riding area for visitors is Lumberton. The Cranbrook Snowmobile Club has a tenure in this area, so the trails are groomed regularly. Club members also maintain a two-storey cabin there, but only valid key-holders have access to the cabin.

Branching off the main route are several secondary trails that lead to cutblocks, lakes and other great places to play. Snowmobilers can find spots with gentle slopes for new riders to gain confidence and places where only the experienced riders with turbo-charged sleds should go.

Lots of sledders play around on the powerline or they head to The Steps, Helens Lake and Stonehenge, although not all of these areas have groomed trail access. For advanced riders, there is an area called Heaven; it offers rewarding views, but—as the name implies—Heaven is steep and challenging and recommended for only experienced riders.

Lumberton is well suited for afternoon trail rides as well. Some of the trails even loop around so you don’t have to retrace your tracks back to the truck.

On weekends, the parking lot at Lumberton fills up pretty quickly, but don’t let that fool you—it is a big area that typically sees a heavy snowfall, and it takes awhile for all the fresh stuff to get tracked up.

Driving directions: Head west of Cranbrook on Highway 3/95 for about seven minutes and turn on Lumberton Road. After about seven kilometres, the road will fork; stay to the left and keep following the Main Moyie Forest Service Road until you reach the plowed parking lot.
Grooming season: It depends on snow conditions, but the trails are groomed regularly throughout the winter.
Difficulty level: Easy to difficult

Perry Creek

The Perry Creek riding area is in the next valley over from Lumberton. In fact, there is a trail that connects the two riding areas but it’s not groomed.

Perry Creek sees the same kind of heavy snowfall as Lumberton. The area, however, is not maintained by the club, so it is harder to access and it can be a rough ride in, due to the whoops.

From the Perry Creek Forest Service Road, sledders can explore several old logging roads and steep cutblocks throughout the area.

Driving directions: From Cranbrook, head out on King Street and follow the Wycliffe Road until you reach the Perry Creek Forest Service Road (FSR). Follow the FSR until you can find a good place to unload and then ride from there. Note: the road may not be plowed.
Difficulty level: Moderate to difficult (depending on what you are doing)

Wild Horse

A personal favourite of many local snowmobilers is the Wild Horse area. The snow is deep there and the scenery consists of rugged snow-covered peaks that extend for miles.

Some spots along the main trail are steep and technical. The Wild Horse area is not signed and there is a high risk of avalanches, so the best option is to go with someone who knows the area well.

Driving directions: Follow the highway east of Cranbrook to Fort Steele Heritage Town and turn at the Fort Steele Esso station onto the Wardner-Fort Steele Road; from there, turn onto the Wildhorse Forest Service Road. There is no formal staging area but, depending on road conditions, local riders will usually unload their sleds and start riding from about five kilometres after the turnoff to the Lakit Lookout Road.
Difficulty level: Difficult

Know before you go:

A trail pass is required for snowmobiling in the Lumberton area. Passes are available at All Season’s Motor Sports on Van Horne Street S., Peak Performance Motorsports on Kootenay Street N., Agro Cranbrook on Cranbrook St. N. and Chevron Town Pantry on Cranbrook St. N. There is a trail pass booth at the parking lot as well. A pass costs $20 per sled for the day or $85 for a season’s pass. A map of the trails in the Lumberton area is available on the Cranbrook Snowmobile Club's website

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