Blue River boasts a vast span of alpine and meadow riding

There’s no end to the adrenaline for sledders in Blue River

by Jessica Kirby

The main draw

Located 210 kilometres north of Kamloops on the Yellowhead Highway, Blue River is a haven for winter sport enthusiasts. The Columbia mountain system takes skiers and sledders up some majestic peaks for spectacular views of the valleys below. Annual snowfall can be 16 to 18 feet in town, guaranteeing at least a four-metre base up high.

The oldest and most popular area is bordered by the east and west sides of Groundhog Mountain, where families can play for a day in Blue River’s famed powder or take a tour with the local guiding company. Off the beaten trail is a whole other world that expert riders won’t want to miss.

Salmon Lakes is an extreme riding area where weekend warriors come to revel in endless chutes, climbs and tight alpine riding. The staging area is at Finn Creek parking lot approximately 20 kilometres south of Blue River. The access point off the main Groundhog trail is ribboned early in the year, but later on it can be tricky to find. Watch for a single track heading up into the alpine with plenty of boondocking on the way. Don’t expect to see another group, though—100 riders can easily ride the enormous area without crossing paths.

Visit the north end of Salmon Lakes for some incredible views of the valleys below, or check out the far west corner and look down on Blue River from the ridgeline. Play in any number of wide open bowls and meadows, but be sure to check the weather, because visibility can be low when the snow flies.

Sledders’ hangouts

On any given morning, visitors can find sledders fuelling up at The Grill restaurant, the Holy Smoke Inn or the Glacier Mountain Lodge. At the end of the day, meet riders for a cold one at the Blue River Legion.

  • The Grill
  • The Holy Smoke Inn
  • Glacier Mountain Lodge
  • Blue River Legion for the after-ride hangout

Extended stay

Staying longer than a weekend? Try the novice trails at Groundhog Mountain, with 30 kilometres of groomed trails, excellent access and great visibility regardless of the weather. This is a good spot for beginners and intermediate riders to test out some of Blue River’s legendary powder.

Foam Creek is an ungroomed trail through meadows and nice flowing treed areas suited to riders of every ability. It offers beautiful scenic views at 7,000 feet overlooking the entire valley.

For completely open alpine areas with steep climbing and bowls to play in, give Parberry a try. The access is great and the intermediate to advanced rider will find no end to the adventure.

The Blue River Powder Packers is the local club, but it is largely inactive at the moment. For information or maps, give Blue Jewel Snowmobile Tours & Rentals or Glacier Mountain Lodge a call.

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