Scott Barsby, owner of Toby Creek Adventures, keeps coming back to the Forester Creek Trail when he is considering his best ride ever.
“This trail is a great groomed ride that heads up to an alpine bowl,” said Barsby. “It is not hard to find fresh snow, there is a warming hut and good markings—and it is really close to Radium Hot Springs.”
Barsby loves taking his friends and family, and especially newcomers, up to this trail.
“The views are drop-dead gorgeous,” said Barsby. “You shut off your machine and here you are in this wilderness environment, standing on top of a mountain. It is pretty awesome.”
Forester Creek Trail has it all, he said. There are places to play in the trees and meadows, decent climbing and very high alpine glaciers. Barsby said his rides up there are adrenalin packed. The power and adrenalin is very addicting, and once you try it, he said, you are hooked.
“You float through the snow, carve your turns, counter steer, boondock,” said Barsby. “You have a grin from one cheek to the other all day long. It is a different world up there in winter.”
Barsby rides an Arctic Cat M8 Sno Pro sled, a machine that is perfect for the mountain and powder riding he does.
Forester Creek Trail can be accessed 20 minutes west of Radium Hot Springs. It is a managed recreation trail, supported and maintained through a user-pay system. It extends 40 kilometres one way. The trail gradually ascends 6,500 feet to alpine meadows and a warm-up shelter; Forester Pass can then be challenged around the 8,500-foot level by more advanced riders.
The trail system and cabin are managed through the Windermere Valley Snowmobile Society. Trail passes can be purchased at participating businesses and at the trailhead.
Venturing farther afield
“There are four beautiful alpine riding areas within an hour's drive from Radium Hot Springs,” said Barsby.
One of these areas is the Paradise Mine Trail. It is accessed 40 minutes southwest of Radium Hot Springs at Toby Creek Adventures. Again, this is a managed private trail system supported through a user-pay program. The trail is a 20-kilometre scenic one-way route that winds its way up to 8,000 feet, where you can find a warm-up shelter and high alpine meadows to play in. A full-service repair, gift and rental shop can be found at the trailhead.
Other unmanaged, challenging recreational areas near Radium Hot Springs include Brewer Creek, which leads up to high alpine bowls. Rocky Point and Silent Pass are both north of Radium Hot Springs: Rocky Point is unmanaged and ascends to 8,500 feet, while Silent Pass is managed and leads up to a high alpine bowl that has a variety of terrain.
One is the loneliest number
“My stuck stories,” said Barsby, “usually involve me falling into a hole, wishing I wasn't there and wanting to quit snowmobiling forever.”
Barsby did rescue a sledder who was stuck in fresh powder under his idling machine.
“I made sure he was alright, and then took a photo of the moment,” said Barsby. “He was pinned and would still be there if I hadn't got him out.”
Barsby said although it was worth a photo and the story can be told, it is important to remember not to ride on your own. He emphasized the importance of having all the proper avalanche equipment, a Spot satellite device and correct clothing and a helmet.