Swan River, MB trail map

Hit the wide open valley and discover a pristine winter paradise

by Thomas Shirtliffe

Swan River is situated right near the Manitoba-Saskatchewan boundary and just north of one of the main playgrounds for riders: Duck Mountain Provincial Park. Duck Mountain is one area that we’ll talk about and the trail leading up to it will be our first main trail:

Wellman Lake Trail

With Swan River as your main staging area, you’ll head south from the town and immediately you will find yourself on the Wellman Lake Trail. Continue on for about 36 kilometres and you’ll find yourself at the Wellman warm-up shelter. It sits just about halfway between Swan River and Wellman Lake and provides a good opportunity to take a rest. As you continue on you’ll be surrounded by forest as you head into the provincial park. The trail becomes a winding one and provides an excellent riding experience. Right at the end of your journey will be Wellman Lake, where you’ll enjoy some excellent riding as you glide over the ice.

Cowan Trail

This next trail will have you leaving the town to the south once again, except this time when you hit a junction in the trails you will turn east. You are now on the Cowan Trail. The trail itself is actually a heritage trail which was an old wagon road at one time. Nowadays the trail is shared by snowmobilers and makes for an excellent groomed trail to ride on. As you continue east you’ll come across the town of Minitonas and then you will eventually hit the Cowan Trail warm-up shelter. A few kilometres before the shelter there is a junction with a groomed trail leading north. If you take that trail it will take you northeast until you come across some transmission lines. You’ll be following those lines the rest of the way until you make your way into the town of Cowan.

Thunderhill Trail

When you leave Swan River to the west, you’ll be riding along the Thunderbird Trail. The first part of the trail will have you riding along the transmission lines, but at one point you’ll make a turn south. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself in the Thunderhill ski area. This area provides a fun place to ride, as you’ll be going up and down rolling hills and at any time you’ll be able to stop to take in the fantastic view. The rolling hills will eventually lead you down to the town of Benito. It’s the perfect place to stop for a break and fill up the gas. To make your way back to Swan River, you will be sledding along the Benito Trail. Keep the nose of your sled pointed north and you will be home in no time at all. If you are looking for a longer ride, you can head east on to the Pretty Valley Trail when you hit the junction, which will then connect you to the Wellman Lake Trail.

With only a population of 6,000, the Swan River valley provides a lot of room for exploration and sightseeing. While a few trails were mentioned, all the trails have the potential to lead off into open fields, lake crossings, rolling hills, bush trails and powder snow areas to play in. The snowmobile possibilities are almost endless around Swan River.

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