If you're looking for a place to snowmobile with deep powder and magnificent views, you need to look no further than Cranbrook, B.C. The biggest city in the Kootenays offers more than just a wide selection of restaurants and shops, it offers unparalleled wilderness with the chance to take your sled to its limits. The Lumberton area, located about 15 minutes west of the city, is a must-do ride for all abilities.
The main draw
Harvey Sims with the Cranbrook Snowmobile Club said the Lumberton area in particular boasts spectacular views and has numerous snowmobiling possibilities.
"There are lots of really great places you can get to up there," he said. "Since our club has tenure at Lumberton, we supply a trail map with highlights. You can follow the maps to some very impressive viewpoints."
Sims added that he can't highlight just one particular place.
"Snowmobiling, in my opinion, is not about the destination, it's about the journey," he said. "Wherever you stop, you can see amazing views."
To start on this journey, sledders need to head up Lumberton Road from Highway 3, then turn onto the Main Moyie forest service road; at about five kilometres in, there is a plowed-out parking lot. The Cranbrook Snowmobile Club has 50 kilometres of groomed trails in the area, and Sims said they keep the trails in immaculate condition. Once you're on your way, he added, you can branch off to hundreds of old logging and mining exploration roads where the possibilities are seemingly endless.
Riding the Lumberton area does require a trail pass but the money paid for the pass goes to grooming the trails and keeping them open. You can get a pass at All Seasons Motorsports, Peak Performance and Agro in Cranbrook, and Sims promises it is worth every penny.
Cranbrook, with a population of around 20,000, is home to numerous coffee shops, delis, restaurants, bars and fast-food chains—so, as Sims said, choosing a place to stop before heading out on the trails is very much a personal preference. In Cranbrook there are dozens of small groups of sledders who ride together, and each group has their own favourite gathering place. Sims prefers R & B's Grill located right on the Strip, and he said Dairy Queen also offers a delicious breakfast.
For an extended stay
If time allows you to spend more than just a weekend in this beautiful region, another popular spot—though it's only for advanced sledders—is the Wild Horse area.
"There are some spectacular rides up Wild Horse," said Sims, "but there is no map—you are all on your own."
The danger level is also high, which is why you have to be experienced to head up there. Sims said the trails are pretty rugged and can get pretty steep. The rides at Wild Horse will take you to the tops of mountains with deep powder. Snowmobilers can access the Wild Horse area by driving to Fort Steele Heritage Town just a few minutes east of Cranbrook, then turning onto the Wardner-Fort Steele Road and from there onto the Wildhorse Forest Service Road. Follow this road for about seven to 12 kilometres and ride from there.
"You can spend three to four days at Wild Horse and never hit the same spot twice," said Sims, adding that this is his absolute favourite place to ride in the area.