The best of Shuswap snowmobiling in Sicamous

Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club

by Karissa Gall

Located halfway between Vancouver and Calgary at the junction of the Shuswap and Mara Lake system in the Eagle Valley, the town of Sicamous, B.C., is known for its spectacular, easy-to-access riding areas, long-running season and welcoming, hard-working local snowmobile club. Each of the four distinct riding areas in Sicamous is located within an under-20-minute drive of town and groomed by the active Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club; three offer well-built, well-stocked chalets. And while other riding areas may succumb to hard-packed ice in the spring, the alpine areas in Sicamous stay fluffy.

Blue Lake

Blue Lake is a groomed trail which boasts ample meadow, wide open slopes for tree riding and a small training hill for beginner riders and families. The hill is located at a lakefront cabin, a perfect setup for families whose members have mixed ability. While novice riders can stay on the training hill, family members with more riding experience can slip away to the more challenging areas beyond the cabin before returning to the rest of the family.

Elevation: 7053 feet
Driving directions:  Drive 17 kilometres east of Sicamous on the Trans-Canada Highway and turn south onto Oxbow Frontage Road. Follow the signs to the staging area.
Distance from community: 17 km
Grooming season: From December to April
Difficulty level: Easy

Queest Mountain 

Excellent for intermediate riders, Queest Mountain (pronounced like “quest”) offers easy trail riding along a groomed forestry road to a warming cabin. Past the cabin, riders will find ample open meadow and large hills for meadow riding and boondocking. To top it all off, Queest offers spectacular views of both Shuswap and Mara lakes.

Elevation: 6830 feet
Driving directions: The trailhead for Queest is just a five-minute drive from downtown Sicamous. Parking is available at the staging area, with good access for trucks and trailers.  There are signs for the staging area on the Trans-Canada Highway.
Distance from community: Under 5 km
Grooming season: From December to April
Difficulty level: Moderate

Eagle Pass

While the Eagle Pass alpine trail may seem easy going at first, the last two kilometres of the area become more narrow, rugged and extremely steep. Described as a hill-climbers’ dream, its remote peaks, endless size and average of 40 feet of snow a year make the area a show-stopper for even the most experienced sledder. Riders are able to behold breathtaking views from its lofty peaks. Come prepared to ride this challenging yet rewarding pass; one can go an entire day without seeing another rider and there is no warming shelter.

Elevation: 7600 feet
Driving directions: Travel 29 kilometres east of Sicamous just past the Perry River and Beardale Castle. Turn north off of the Trans-Canada Highway. Proceed half a kilometre to the staging area, next to the highway gravel pit.
Distance from community: 29 km
Grooming season: From December to April
Difficulty level: Difficult

Local buzz

Like any ardent rider, general manager of the Sicamous-area Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club Gord Bushell will tell you that “every day is a best ride ever.” He has been riding in the area for 15 years and said, “when you go snowmobiling and you think of nothing else all day long, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

But one day of riding his favourite style—steep and deep tree riding—does stand out.

Bushell said that a couple years ago, retired Ski-Doo-sponsored sno-cross racing star Carl Kuster introduced himself and his riding camp company, Carl Kuster Mountain Park, to the Eagle Valley club. Kuster invited Bushell and his fellow club directors to join him and his team on a day of riding at Eagle Pass, a challenging alpine climb and the most remote riding area in and around Sicamous.

“It was spring riding and the weather was very mild at low elevations, but once we got up it was winter conditions,” said Bushell. “I do remember [Kuster] trying to lose me in the trees … back at the Copeland mine. I’m sure he wasn’t trying too hard.”

Bushell said the group finished off the one-day event with “a wonderful meal” at Kuster’s local Habanero Lodge, adding that he and his fellow directors found Kuster to be “a straight shooter, concerned about his riders and a down-to-earth great guy.”

Today Kuster operates his lodge and runs one- to three-day riding camps in Sicamous all winter long.

And while Eagle Pass may have been a perfect fit for the club’s steep and deep outing with expert-rider Kuster, Bushell said that Sicamous has lots of excellent steep tree riding.

“You can find that in all of our four areas,” he said, referring to Eagle Pass and the club’s three other groomed trails: Blue Lake, Owlhead and Queest.


Know before you go:

Riders are required to purchase trail passes at each of the four groomed riding areas in Sicamous: Blue Lake, Eagle Pass, Owlhead and Queest. Trail passes are $25 per sled per day and can be purchased from trail pass staff members at each of the four staging areas. For unlimited access, yearly memberships are also available for $200. Trails maps are available at each of the four staging areas or on the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club website,

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