Snowmobiling the Shuswap

Explore the myriad trails, meadows and mountains in this part of B.C.'s southern interior

by Karissa Gall

The main draw: Crowfoot Mountain

Before exploring all of the backcountry and alpine areas on offer in the Shuswap, first-time visitors should test their machines on Crowfoot Mountain, where they’ll find a secure parking lot, staging area, 28 kilometres of marked Crowfoot Snowmobile Club groomed and ungroomed trails all the way to the top as well as three day-use chalets.

Located north of Shuswap Lake near Celista (36 kilometres from Chase), Crowfoot offers terrain for intermediate to expert riders and great views of Shuswap Lake. Elevations range from 1,200 metres to 2,250 metres, allowing sledders to experience subalpine regions, alpine regions or both. The snow cover averages around four metres across Crowfoot’s open meadows, hills and cliffs. 

For the best powder, plan to ride in March and April, although the season can run as late as June.

Sledders' hangouts

Grizzly Lodge on Pukeashun Mountain is one place you'll find local riders.

For an extended stay

Fly Hills: Located only 10 minutes outside Salmon Arm on a graded forest service road, the Fly Hills snowmobile area is equipped with cement loading ramps to make loading and unloading an easy task, and there is a firepit and outhouse for family-friendly trail riding. Large maps at the parking lots, chalet and several areas on the hill show riders where they are and how to get around. The main trails are maintained by the Salmon Arm Snow Blazers club, and approximately 200 kilometres of ungroomed trails can take sledders as far south as Spa Hills and north to Skimikin Lake. Viewpoints include Twin Towers, the Bluffs, Tappen Mountain Lookout and Kernaghan Lookout. Situated at a lower elevation, the Fly Hills season starts in late November and lasts until May. 

Pukeashan: Novice riders can enjoy tracking up the many open meadows and lakes or stop and take in the amazing view from the peak of Pukeashun Mountain. If you prefer boondocking, no doubt you will find fresh powder in the trees that will take weeks to track up. Not to forget those that enjoy pushing their limits hillclimbing, there are some crazy steep chutes and a few open bowls that will challenge almost anyone.

Spa Hills: Maintained by the Spa Hills Snowmobile Club, Spa Hills offers approximately 120 kilometres of marked snowmobile trails that are located in the Spa, Bolean and Arthur Lake areas. The trails run through avalanche-safe clear-cuts, meadows and burned-off areas that are great for boondocking and link with the Salmon Arm Snow Blazers’ Fly Hills snowmobiling area. The Spa Hills Snowmobile Club has a day chalet overlooking both Spa Lake and the community of Salmon Arm. Overnight accommodation is available at Bolean Lake Lodge.

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