Houston has deep powder, open meadows and wild ravines

If it’s plenty of snow, high peaks and fresh valleys you seek, you have arrived.

by Jessica Kirby

Located at the confluence of the Morice and Bulkley rivers and next to gentle mountain ranges, Houston, B.C., offers up every type of adventure an avid snowmobiler could wish for. Locals say the deep powder, open meadows and wild ravines offer up excitement for every skill level and boast a long riding season for any of six main areas.

Dungate Meadows

Dungate Meadows is a sure draw for families, offering easy trails, beautiful alpine meadows and a noticeable shortage of heavy hill climbs. Parts of the trail are groomed— from the staging area up to and around the cabin—and many locals come here to play, cutting in well-established trails for as far as you can manage in a day. In fact, it’s possible to ride all the way to the next township along flat and easy logging roads, but it’s best to have someone who knows the area along to keep you on the right track.

Driving directions to the staging area: From downtown Houston head east on Highway 16 and turn off onto Butler Avenue. Follow this road to the end, then turn left onto Riverbank Drive. Follow it to the end and turn right at the four-way stop onto Omineca Way. About one kilometre later, turn left up Equity Mine Road. Go 20 kilometres and watch for the parking lot on the left-hand side.
Elevation: 1168 metres at the cabin
Distance from Houston: 20 km
Grooming season: December to March
Difficulty rating: Easy

Telkwa Range

Telkwa Range is a Houston favourite because easy meadows, hills for all skills and endless chutes and play areas make it an alpine haven. Large groups tend to make it a day-long destination because of its wide range of terrain—groomed trails, two cabins and plenty of places to drop down from the top into steep climbs and crazy bowls mean no one will leave disappointed.

Driving directions to the staging area: Go four and a half kilometres west from Houston on Highway 16 and turn left onto the Morice River Road (watch for the mill signs). Drive for three kilometres, then turn right onto the Bymac Road. Go one kilometre before turning left to cross a bridge and head up the Walcott eight kilometres. Turn left onto a road that goes between two fields and follow it until you hit the parking lot.
Elevation: 1600 metres at the alpine
Distance from Houston: 22 km
Grooming season: December to March
Difficulty rating: Easy, moderate and difficult

Sibola/Rhineridge

If you’re up for lots of snow, this area can easily get three feet in an overnight storm, making it totally worth the drive. There are three valleys to choose from, offering hill climbing, meadows and sight-seeing—or all three. Watch for drop-offs and cliffs when cresting the hills, and get ready for the views of a lifetime.

Driving directions to the staging area: Go four and a half kilometres west of Houston on Highway 16 and turn left onto the Morice River Road at the mill signs. Follow the Huckleberry Mine signs till Kilometre 100-1/2 and the parking lot is on the right.
Elevation: 1600 metres at the alpine
Distance from Houston: 105 km
Grooming season: This area is not groomed
Difficulty rating: Moderate and difficult

Local buzz

Adrienne McMechan doesn’t do anything half way, least of all sledding. She’s a self- proclaimed meadow chaser who will easily cover 100 to 200 kilometres in a single day. Her favourite rides are some of Houston’s best play areas, including the Sibolas and Rhineridge.

“Rhineridge is intense because you can get three feet of snow overnight,” she said. “You can go out in a group and ride all day, and if you stay the night at the cabin you wake up the next day and it’s like you were never there.”

She’s been riding for as long as she can remember, starting out on “beaters” and gradually breaking serious ground in mountain riding.

“We used to go to the Summit Lake area north of Houston where there’s not a lot of snow, but is nice for easy trail riding, sightseeing and exploring,” she said. “That was when I was riding sleds that would probably break if you jumped them.”

Seven years ago she got herself an Arctic Cat M6 600 and has never looked back.

“Now I go to places you can’t get to in the summertime,” she said. “I just love being out there. I love sitting on top of the world.”

Know before you go

Trail passes are required at Telkwa Range and will run you $20 per day, per person. It is collected at the trail. Maps aren’t available, but the trails in the Telkwa Range as well as in the Dungate Meadows area are marked with signs. At the Sibolas, you’re on your own.

Contact the club through the BC Snowmobile Federation or the Houston Chamber of Commerce to hook up with experienced riders or take advantage of Moonlight Rides done twice a month at Dungate Meadows and Telkwa Range.

At the Sibola/Rhineridge, carry a two-way radio because the road is active with ore trucks, fuel trucks and logging trucks year-round and seven days a week. Make sure your truck is fueled up and good tires and even chains are on, due to extreme and often sudden changes in weather.

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