Progress won’t slow down the sledders

With Alberta's Iron Horse Trail access temporarily closed, nearby trails will be getting more action

by Marie Milner

A snowmobile is stuck in deep snow on a 45-degree-angle hillside, with disgusted-looking rider standing by.
This sledder got stuck in some tall timbers where the snow had blown in while riding a seismic line north of Smoky Lake, Alberta. Photo courtesy Robert Melnyk

Improvements to the water distribution system in the town of Smoky Lake, Alberta, have cut off access to the famous Alberta's Iron Horse Trail, a major winter attraction for snowmobilers.

The current main draw

Not to worry, though, because Smoky Lake has another, equally popular option nearby: the Trans Canada Snowmobile Trail. This is a scenic, family-oriented trail, where you won’t see any houses in the distance but may have moose, deer and coyotes sharing the trail with you. Locally, it gives access to at least four picturesque lakes—Brodyk, Hanmore, Island and Whitefish—where outdoor enthusiasts like to go ice fishing or just play around. This system goes north from Smoky Lake and ties into a network of other trails that lead to the communities of Lac La Biche and Boyle.

“There are lots and lots of trails,” said Vern Billey, president of the Trail Twisters snowmobile club in Smoky Lake. “If you go north, there are trails that you can explore to your heart’s content. It’s basically rolling hills in the boreal forest, so most of the time it’s bush riding.”

Heading north toward Boyle, you’ll find a warm-up cabin about 12 miles in, though the signage for that portion of the trail is not complete.

Sledder's hangouts

The Smoky Lake Inn, right next to the staging area, is a great place for breakfast and is where lots of the sledders go at the end of their day on the trails to eat, unwind and trade stories.

Sledding etiquette

The local club requests that all sledders using the trails and warm-up cabins support the maintenance of the system by having up-to-date Alberta Snowmobile Association memberships; snowmobilers should be insured as well.

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