An adventure awaits

The Iron Horse Trail is a 300-kilometre traversal of Alberta, which passes through more than 18 communities along the way.

Iron Horse Trail sledders
The interesting attractions on the Iron Horse Trail provide a splendid opportunity for a family trip. photo courtesy Alberta Lakeland DMO

The Iron Horse Trail is a 300-kilometre traversal of Alberta, which passes through more than 18 communities along the way. Its point of origin is at Abilene Junction, where three branches of the trail spread southeastwards to the tiny hamlet of Heinsburg, west to Smoky Lake and northeast to Cold Lake. Its twists and turns take riders through some of the prettiest and most varied terrain Alberta has to offer.

All along the southeastern section of the trail, sledders will be awed by the landscape. It features tall, bare 200-foot hills that rise sharply above the nearly level Iron Horse Trail, as well as the impressive trestles that serve as snowmobile bridges across an assortment of deep ravines and Dog Rump Creek. En route to Heinsburg—which sits above the North Saskatchewan River and offers beautiful scenery and excellent trail riding—sledders pass through the scenic streets of St. Paul.

St. Paul is an out-of-this-world place to take a break, as it is home to a UFO landing pad—built to commemorate Canada’s centennial. Its fun atmosphere and picturesque lakes and sloughs make it a great picnic stop.

After St. Paul, sledders will wind their way into Elk Point—a very snowmobile-friendly community that has shops offering mechanical repairs, warm clothing and hearty meals along its main thoroughfare.

According to Elk Point Trail Riders president Dale Rinas, Elk Point is a mecca for snowmobilers.

“When we get the snowfall, this is an excellent place to ride,” said Rinas. “We have a strong club in the community and the town has done a lot to attract more snowmobilers into the area.”

The west wing of the trail is an enjoyable amalgam of pretty trestles, lush boreal forests, and open fields and farmland. There are many four-season campgrounds along the western section of the Iron Horse and snowmobilers are encouraged to take their time while venturing towards the cozy town of Vilna.

The area around Vilna is rife with curious trivia. Not only does the town lay claim to being the site of the world’s biggest mushrooms, it also contains Alberta’s oldest operating pool hall.

Smoky Lake, the next stop on the trail, has an unusual trademark of its own. The farming community has recreated one of its oldest and most cherished buildings as a gathering place for snowmobilers. The town’s former railway station—now a heritage site—has been restored as a snowmobiling rest stop where riders can appreciate both the history and the geography of the region.

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