Back in the early ’90s, a group of snowmobilers formed the Swan Valley Snowmobile Club. Through many hours of volunteer labour using chainsaws, brush saws and heavy-duty equipment, the club was able to clear out a trail system.
There wasn’t much in terms of grooming at that time. With the unification of the club came proper grooming in the form of a homemade groomer pulling an eight-foot drag.
The club endured a tumultuous 2012, withstanding a major windstorm that negatively affected half the bush trails by shearing off tops and uprooting trees. A group effort was mounted to repair the damage and update infrastructure from the likes of the Snoman Association of Manitoba, the National Trails Coalition, the Province of Manitoba, local businesses and fundraisers. They rallied together to generate between $50 and $60 thousand that was used to get the trails back in good condition again. Their hard work was rewarded in 2015 when Swan Valley was named the SnoRiders Sledtown Showdown contest winner.
The reconstruction, maintenance and expansion of Swan River’s trail system is ongoing. The Swan Valley Snowmobile Club looks after the south side of the Swan River Valley, stretching east and west to the north side of Duck Mountain and Wellman Lake. The trail system is vast, covering 400 kilometres.
Along the course of trails are three warm-up shelters. The main meeting place is Wellman Lake Trail Shelter on the W trail going to Wellman Lake, Trail One in the system. Another warm-up shelter is the Cowan Trail Shelter. Those shelters are along the two main bush trails that are maintained. They’re well-lit, insulated warm-up shelters with solar panels. The third warm-up shelter is at Thunder Hill.
Raymond McLeary, president of the Swan Valley Snowmobile Club, said there are plans to develop even more trails and shelters, “We’re getting rid of overgrowth to widen our existing trails,” he said. “We’ll maybe get another piece of trail added in next year. We’re hoping to get another warm-up shelter built and ready for next winter up near Duck Mountain, towards Wellman Lake.”
Swan River sees over 200 riders take to its trail system every year. Expect that number to rise due to all the money, manpower and maintenance that has been contributed by the Swan Valley Snowmobile Club.