Power lines offer up miles of wide open riding in Lac la Biche and are the starting point for most adventures in the area.
This is avid sledder Kevin Zatorski’s favourite place to hit the snow, which can take you all the way to Fort McMurray if you have enough gas and willpower. The unofficial trail is wide open, with a few pipelines along the way and rolling hills to keep things interesting.
Zatorski has covered 30 or 40 kilometres on the powerline and said he knows others who have spent much longer exploring the area and seeking out never-before-ridden destinations.
“There are a lot of people who head north for hours to the Conklin area,” he said. “Those trails are mostly cutlines and power lines and trails locals have cut in.”
Almost every ride was memorable last season, said Zatorski, because there was three or four feet of snow and endless freedom in making your own way through the countryside without having to stick to a popular trail.
With decent weather and a tight sledding community, it’s never hard to find a great group to ride with. The terrain is mixed in Lac la Biche—head out over the lake to really open it up or head to the hills where things can be dicey (in a good way), even for experienced riders.
“Probably my best stuck was ending up in a tree,” Zatorski said. “I was going up the mountain and I didn’t plan things quite right. There wasn’t quite as much room between two trees as I thought and I hit an old trench that threw me one way, which was opposite to where I wanted to go.”
Three hours later the sled was out and Zatorski was luckily uninjured. His travels to McBride, Renshaw and other areas take him all kinds of terrain from the mountains to meadows where the snow is deep and the playtime is plentiful.
“I had an awesome whoopsie when I was catwalking one time and it was a bit too much. The back half of the sled ended up straight up and down,” he said.
Zatorski has his sled tuned up, cleaned and ready to go for the coming season and can’t wait to get out in the backcountry.
Starting points for longer trips
Lac la Biche is also a great starting point for longer trips out to McBride or Revelstoke, he said.
“My favourite is McBride,” he said. “It’s closer and the riding is usually in the powder. It’s a larger area and has riding for every level.”
McBride, Zatorski’s top choice, is about eight hours away by truck and makes for an excellent weekend getaway.
For families and moderate riders who prefer a more scenic and predictable flavour, the Lakeland Provincial Park and Recreation Area offers eight well-marked and popular trails including the Air Weapons Range Boundary with access from Heart Lake Forestry Tower to the north shore of Spencer Lake around the northwest end and south to the north shore of Seibert Lake.
Another favourite leaves from the Pinehurst Lake campground and heads south to the pipeline or west from Pinehurst Lake Road to West Wishbone Trail.
Zatorski works at Lac la Biche Sporting Goods, the third largest dealer in Alberta and fifth overall in Canada. Visitors to the area can stop in for directions, information and tips on making a trip to Lac la Biche the best it can be.