Uncrowded and peaceful sledding in Barrhead, Alberta

For Dale Bentz, riding near Barrhead, Alberta, means lots of wildlife, uncrowded trails and enjoying winter in its entirety.

by Karen Kornelsen

A group of Northern Lights Snowmobile Club members heading out for a ride just after Christmas of 2012.
A group of Northern Lights Snowmobile Club members heading out for a ride just after Christmas 2012. Photo courtesy Angie Breitkreitz.

Dale Bentz has been snowmobiling since 1974 and there's no chance of things slowing down yet. Hailing from Barrhead, Alberta, Bentz knows the beauty of sledding in this area. Bentz has been a member of the Northern Lights Snowmobile Club since its inception and he's loved every minute of it.

His favourite ride goes from Barrhead to Goodridge Lake, up to the Flatbush cabin, to the Trans Canada Trail and back home to Barrhead. It's a peaceful, uncrowded trail system where sledders are almost guaranteed to see some amazing wildlife.

"It's a very pretty ride," said Bentz. "There is lots of wildlife like moose, elk and hawk owls, and there have been some cougar sightings. There are also many different kinds of trees including pine and spruce. There are also nice meadows where you can view the wildlife and the large amount of unusual birds in the area. It's also close to two major rivers, the Pembina and the Athabasca."

The staging area is near the Goodridge cabin, about 20 kilometres from Barrhead. Last year, doing this particular ride, Bentz got to share it with some friends that were completely new to sledding.

"We had some guests come up that wanted to see the sport of snowmobiling," said Bentz. "It was a lot of fun introducing them to it and showing them what we do."

That day, Bentz and his friends did about 150 kilometres on the marked trail system.

"I love snowmobiling because of the experiences you have in the outdoors," said Bentz. "It's great getting together with a few laid-back people. I never worry about how far and fast I go, either. For me, it's the quality of the ride. There's always something to see around here and you always have the chance to stop and make a snowman or a snow angel if that's what you feel like doing. Sledding is the best way to beat the depressive nature of winter."

Meet the rider

Name: Dale Bentz

Lives in: Barrhead, Alberta

Originally from: Barrhead, Alberta

Age: 57

Sledding since: 1974

First sled: Kawasaki Astro

Current sled: 1998 Summit X and a large number of antique snowmobiles

Favourite riding area: Goodridge cabin to the Trans Canada trail

Why is it your favourite? It's a great trail because it's so peaceful and you see lots of wildlife. It's  basically out my back door, so it takes little effort to get out there and enjoy the trail system.

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