Club Profile: Swan Hills Snow-Goers

Everything you need to know to ride through Swan Hills

by Kyle Born

A snowmobile trail groomer is parked next to two men on a snowmobile trail.
During SnoRiders’ annual SledTown ShowDown competition, Swan Hills was named Alberta’s 2022 SledTown ShowDown provincial champion for the first time ever, taking its place among the elite. Photo courtesy Swan Hills Snow-Goers Facebook page

Swan Hills is one of Alberta’s most desirable destinations to go snowmobiling. This snowy paradise is quickly becoming one of the most popular sledding locations in all of Western Canada, as proven by becoming Alberta’s 2022 SledTown ShowDown provincial champion for the first time ever.

As part of the Golden Triangle trail system and The Trans Canada Snowmobile trail, Swan Hills’ riding area extends from the south, west and east for 50 kilometres in each direction. The trail system extends from Trapper Lea’s cabin on our south portion to the Goose Tower trail in the north with a central staging area right in the middle.

The Swan Hills Snow Goers Club has been looking after the area since 1969 and the group is one of the founding member clubs that started the Alberta Snowmobile Association (ASA). One of the founding members, Ann Nagel, still helps out with the club rally every year. She was proud to be honoured with the Louise Sherren “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the ASA recently.

Don Kelm, trail co-ordinator of the Swan Hills Snow-Goers, outlined everything snowmobilers need to know to sled Swan Hills.

A snowmobile is parked in the snow on a trail in Swan Hills, Alberta.
“Everyone that has a sled wants snow. We have it when others don’t.” — Don Kelm Photo courtesy Don Kelm

How many kilometres of trails does Swan Hills have?

450 kilometres of groomed trail systems.

What are Swan Hills’s top trails/riding areas?

With the snowbelt southwest of town, the top trail is the Golden Triangle trail towards Fox Creek. This trail gets you access to some of the best early riding snow around. Fluffy and lots of it.

There is an area that is very well known called Goose Tower. Tons of sledders haul out there on the Goose Tower Road, park at kilometre 27, and ride all day. Most of this area is unmaintained with lots of logging activity lately.

How do I get to the staging area?

The official staging area is at the entrance to town on Highway 33, just south of the tourist booth. The “Swan guarding her nest from the Grizzly Bear” statues are right there as well. The parking lot is just below the hill. Public washrooms are there in the middle of the spacious parking area.

Is there enough room at the staging area for trucks with big trailers?

I have counted over 30 trucks and trailers parked there on a busy weekend.

Is it plowed regularly?

The club gets the lot plowed after every snowfall so it’s ready at all times.

Two lynx sit in the snow in Swan Hills, Alberta.
All kinds of wildlife, such as lynx, can be found in Swan Hills. Photo courtesy Don Kelm

Do trail fees apply to all trails/riding areas? If so, how much are the trail fees?

We are part of the Alberta Snowmobile Association, so the ASA trail pass of $80 applies to our trails for a seasonal membership. A $25 day pass can be purchased for just a day ride.

How much is it for an annual membership?

Annual membership is $80 per adult and $40 per youth.

Where can I get a trail pass?

You can get your pass online at the Alberta Snowmobile Association (ASA) website. Both seasonal adult and youth passes can be purchased there.

Passes are available at Wilderness Playground Tours (Don’s shop) with a sign with my name and phone number at the staging area. I take many phone calls after hours or whenever. Debit/credit cards accepted.

A boy sits in the snow in front of a snowmobile in front of a snowy warm-up shelter.
The Swan Hills Snow Goers Club has been looking after the area since 1969 and the group is one of the founding member clubs that started the Alberta Snowmobile Association (ASA). Photo courtesy Swan Hills Snow-Goers Facebook page

What kind of groomer does the Swan Hills Snow-Goers have?

We contract out the grooming work to a local contractor. He has two Piston Bully units and pulls an eight-foot wide drag unit. Bruce Irving owns the units and has been doing a fabulous job for the past 20 years. We have been recognized for best groomed trails and Bruce has won Groomer of the Year at the ASA awards.

Are there any cabins or warm-up shelters in the area? What are they like?

We have two warm-up cabins and a clubhouse as part of the trail system. The clubhouse is on the north shore of Krause Lake and was built in 1990. Special thanks to Harvey Arnott for getting this building built and the homemade stove, which members have used extensively. It has truly stood the test of time.

When and where do the Swan Hills Snow-Goers have their club meetings?

Meetings are usually held once a month, starting with the first snowfall that gets everyone thinking about the upcoming season. Meetings are held at the clubhouse.

How does someone join the Swan Hills Snow-Goers?

When you purchase your seasonal trail pass and allocate the funds towards Swan Hills, you are automatically a member of the club. We sell approximately 60 memberships every year. Day passes are considered a membership for the day and we sell about 200 of those.

What year was the club started?

1969

Who is the club president?

Brent Cmoc is our president, leader, go-getter and all around good guy. His passion for the club is contagious. He is constantly attracting new members and people are drawn to him by his enthusiasm.

For more information about the Swan Hills Snow-Goers or snowmobiling in Swan Hills, who should I contact?

Brent Cmoc- 780-333-4252 - President

Don Kelm- 780-333-2800 - Trail Coordinator

Swan Hills Snow-Goers Facebook page

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