First rides and then some

Lumberton is ideal for first-timers, families and everyone else who loves good snow, great scenery and groomed trails

by Kirsten Armleder

A woman on a snowmobile.
With its groomed trails and variety of terrain, Lumberton is a suitable area for beginners to learn the fundamentals of sledding. Here is Sarah Hogg taking her first snowmobile ride near The Steps in the Lumberton area in 2012. Doug Hogg photo

The sleds are loaded, fuelled up and we’re ready to rip. Where to ride? It’s mid-December. The start of sledding season around here. Without our even realizing it, Lumberton, B.C., has become the first area my husband and I ride each season. Perhaps it’s because we know the trails will be smooth, the snow is always good and we won’t have to travel far to get there.

Like most riding areas in British Columbia, Lumberton begins at the end of a logging road. The approach starts 10 kilometres west of Cranbrook off Highway 3/95. From the turnoff, it’s only about 14 kilometres to the staging area, which means we are usually unloaded and riding in less than an hour of leaving the house.

Another luxury, especially in our neck of the woods, is that the access road and parking lot are plowed regularly—thanks to the Cranbrook Snowmobile Club (CSC). To support their work and grooming efforts, the club asks riders to purchase a trail pass, so bring some cash with you to the trailhead, or else stop at any of the sled shops in town and pick one up before you head out.

Lumberton is by far the most popular area around Cranbrook for sledding, and for good reason. It caters to just about every kind of rider: the tree rider, the hillclimber, and the sledding dad looking for a safe place to take his family.

For the latter, there are 70 kilometres of groomed trails in the Lumberton area, and all are mapped out and signed. If you didn’t pick up a map when you got your trail pass, don’t fret, because there is a large one at the trailhead you can use to plan your route. You can also print one off from the CSC’s website.

Afternoon and day rides

A few minutes down the trail, you will come to a junction where, if you turn right, you can take Rob’s Way to Ryder Creek and loop back around. It’s short but this route offers access to some nice cutblocks and ungroomed trails along the way.

Staying left at this junction and the next will take you to the club’s two-storey cabin. From there, you can follow the trail to McNeil Lake or the Ridgeway trail to Helen’s Lake. Both are great spots to make a fire and cook up a snack.

A little later in the season, when the snowpack is settled and the days are longer, riders can try the Kidd Creek loop. According to Doug Hogg, who is president of the CSC, this is a full-day ride but one that can be enjoyed by riders of all calibre.

“It actually goes out of our territory but most of the way is usually groomed,” he said. “It takes you down to Kidd Creek and back up FibreGlass Hill, and it’s not technical riding. It’s on cutlines and mining roads. That is a really nice loop.”

One thing riders should keep in mind, especially if they are venturing out of the club’s territory, is that there are several caribou closures in the area, so watch for the signs and please obey them.

Over the years, the CSC has worked hard to protect and promote the Lumberton riding area. A highly anticipated event each year is the club’s annual poker run. Usually held in February, the event features a ride on the Lumberton snowmobile trails, which is followed by a dinner and a dance.

For the past couple of years, the club has also had an open house/family day in Lumberton, which has been very successful. Everyone, non-members included, is welcome to attend.

Although the date has yet to be confirmed, Hogg said the event will be taking place again this winter. Keep your eye on the events section of the club’s website for more info.

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