Smithers has it all for snowmobilers

Smithers has it all: mountain ridges, smooth bowls, groomed trails and the wild beyond

by Jessica Kirby

Visitors to Smithers can have their pick of high mountain riding for all skill levels, but the must-go destination is the Microwave and Sinclair ranges. Get ready for an intense mix of terrain from casual riding through sweeping bowls to extremely challenging trails into the steep ‘n’ deep.

The staging area is a plowed parking lot at Kilometre 19 on the Telkwa River Forest Service Road. To get there, head east from Smithers to the Telkwa Road and cross the Bulkley River on Coal Mine Road. Five kilometres later the road becomes Telkwa River Forest Service Road.

Head straight up the mountain on groomed trails to the first of two emergency shelters seven kilometres up on the Microwave Plateau. Travel six kilometres more for the second shelter, or head to a third on Sinclair. Just a few kilometres past the Sinclair shelter is the powerline, and past that the real fun begins.

Last year was an exceptional snow year in Smithers. The local club almost couldn’t pull the Mogul Master through two feet of fresh powder. Powder junkies love these ranges for hillclimbing (try the Sun Pit on Microwave) or tons of boondocking through sparse trees, across creeks and to the meadows.

Find incredible 360-degree views from anywhere on the Plateau or up in Sinclair, which doesn’t have as much boondocking but plenty of steep climbs. Watch for Entrance Bowl, The Lake or Golden Gully for some intermediate to advanced play areas.

Both the Microwave and Sinclair ranges are now equipped with the ATES system—Parks Canada’s Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale that assigns terrain “simple,” “challenging” or “complex” ratings riders can cross-reference with weather conditions to help plan their trips.

Sledder hangouts

The Hudson Bay Lodge is the Smithers Snowmobile Association’s corporate partner and offers a room for the club’s meetings and a discount room rate for visiting sledders. Just show your membership or day pass for a deal on double occupancy rooms.
There are three service stations with convenience stores in Smithers including an Esso/7- Eleven, Chevron Town Pantry and Moricetown Gas Bar & Store, and any morning between 9 and noon the parking lot is nose-to-tail with pickups, trailers and sleds.

Extended stay

With a little extra time, check out the Onion and the Dome, about 20 kilometres out of Smithers and with only a kilometre between the plowed, easy-to-find parking lots.

The Onion is up Babine Mountain just five kilometres from the parking lot on the outskirts of Babine Mountains Provincial Park. From the main shelter to a second higher up is family- and novice-friendly, and beyond the second shelter the terrain is famous for its deep snow and challenging climbs.
The Dome is a nice smooth ride up Mount McKendrick into 100 family-friendly kilometres of widely groomed trails. This is a great place for first-time or novice riders thanks to easy terrain, plenty of people around and two fully equipped emergency shelters.

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