From Nipawin to anywhere

Nipawin boasts more than 350 kilometres of marked, groomed trails

by Jessica Kirby

Betty Ladouceur on her snowmobile.
Betty Ladouceur was awarded awarded the Outstanding Volunteer Snowmobiler of the year award from the Saskatchewan Snowmobile Association’s 2013 Diamonds in the Snow Awards for her tireless efforts in keeping sledding alive in Nipawin. Photo courtesy of Betty Ladouceur

Nipawin boasts more than 350 kilometres of marked, groomed trails that take sledders through open meadows, along the boreal treeline, to the Saskatchewan Rivers, and beyond—in fact, Betty Ladouceur, treasurer for the Twin Lakes Trail Blazers, said a person could ride all the way to Ontario if they wanted to.

“The trails are all interlocking,” she said, “so you really can go anywhere. My favourite ride is up to Tobin Lake, which takes about a half hour or 30 kilometres by road.”

The route heads out across field country over some rolling hills and through some bush trails along side the North Saskatchewan River.

“It’s a nice ride and the scenery is great,” said Ladouceur.

She’s been riding in Nipawin since 2000 and has loved every minute. Her most memorable trip was an epic ride from Nipawin to Denare Beach, Saskatchewan, which is about 19 kilometres southwest of Flin Flon, Manitoba. The trip is about 400 kilometres by road.  

 “Fourteen of us left here at 9:30 in the morning and by 5 p.m. were sitting at the beach at Lakeview Lodge having prime rib supper,” she said. “Another favourite ride is up to Little Bear Lake through the Eskers—that’s a 100-mile ride.”

Cruising to Forte de la Corne

Noel Jenson, operator of Sno Cruise Guided Tours and Rentals in Saskatoon, said the company primarily hosts tours of the Nisbet Forest about an hour out of Saskatoon, but from there his groups sometimes travels east to where the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers meet and on to Forte de le Corne, just 20 minutes from Nipawin.

“Forte de la Corne is a nice, easy 25-kilometre ride from Nipawin along the South Saskatchewan,” said Jenson. “It depends if you go cross-country or take the trails, which are windy and might be longer. It’s a nice ride close to the river along nice, rolling countryside.”

The river ice is jumbled, so river riding isn’t always possible, but a flat groomed trail through Forte de la Corne from Nipawin to Choiceland makes for a day trip that winds through farmland and along the treeline for a bit of variety.

Jenson enjoys the area’s premier cross-country riding and Forte de la Corne is somewhat remote and less ridden.

“It’s unmapped and remote, but the snow back in Forte de la Corne—there’s no comparison. From Nipawin you’d take the groomed trail (or not) west, and then make a southwest turn to Forte de la Corne.”

Best stuck

Jenson took a group from Toronto out last year and swears he’s never seen so many people stuck so often and so close to the trail.

“It’s a groomed trail,” he said, “and this one young lad got off of it by two feet, right next to the sign. The snow was so deep that the sled would be stuck at a 45-degree angle with just the skis hanging out. The only way out was to dig a big hole and roll the sled one way and then another until it came free.”

Meet the Rider

Name: Betty Ladouceur

Age: 64

Hometown: Nipawin, SK

Lives in: Nipawin, SK

Sledding since: 1975

First sled: 1974 Arctic Cat Puma

Current sled: 2008 GSX Ltd. 600 H.O. Ski-Doo

Major achievements: Ladouceur was recently awarded the Outstanding Volunteer Snowmobiler of the Year award at the Saskatchewan Snowmobile Association’s 2013 Diamonds in the Snow Awards. She has been a snowmobiling volunteer since 1975, having helped start clubs in Lynn Lake, Manitoba, and Whitewood, Saskatchewan, before joining the Twin Lakes Trail Blazers in 2000. 

Considered an “irreplaceable member” by friends, Ladouceur sits on the Twin Lakes Trail Blazers’ social committee and executive, and is active in planning events such as family rides, wiener roasts and Valentine suppers, not to mention the membership and landowners appreciation night and provincial snowmobile festival. She raised a large amount of funding through corporate sponsorship for last year’s festival and is much appreciated for that as well as her organizational and team-spirited efforts with the Trail Blazers.

In Whitewood, Saskatchewan, Ladouceur taught the Snowmobile Safety Course and encourages the Twin Lakes Trail Blazers to be involved in the course each year. She volunteers to speak at the Wagner School during Snowmobile Safety Week about kids becoming safe drivers early in their lives, and during the local dog races she monitors the trails and ensures the day goes smoothly for both the racers and the snowmobilers that might be using the trails that day.

Friends say Ladouceur is always game to help out, helping to mark the trails and driving a truck to haul stakes when needed. She also takes the “Pack it In, Pack it Out” slogan an extra step, always picking up extra trash from the trails. Because she’s always quick to volunteer and organize so many beneficial events, the Trail Blazers felt Ladouceur was well overdue for provincial recognition.

How did you feel when you won the award? Very humbled. It’s really nice to be recognized by peers for all you do.
What does riding mean to you? It’s a great outdoor sport. It gets you out socializing with other people, and it’s something my husband and I can do together. It means getting out in the fresh air, having fun and enjoying the scenery. 

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