Pumped about the sledding potential

Leona Sweetser is having fun getting to know the wonderful and vast winter wonderland that is the Swan River Valley

by Joshua K. Lockhart

Members of the North Mountain Riders explore their winter wonderland.

With snow covering the land from early November to mid-April, the Swan River Valley provides ample opportunity to enjoy getting out on your snowmobile. 

If the season’s length isn’t enough of a draw, this region boasts 800 kilometres of groomed trails. Around 453 kilometres of trails to the north are maintained by the North Mountain Riders and 320 kilometres to the south are groomed by the Swan Valley Snowmobile Club. The riding areas range from open fields to lake crossings, and rugged hills to bush trails, as well as powder-filled areas to play in. With only about 6,000 people living in the valley, there is a lot of room for exploration of the scenic sites here.  

Leona Sweetser, a member of the North Mountain Riders, said she couldn’t choose a particular best day ever for the area.

“My best day ever was really the whole season,” said Sweetser. “Any day on the sled is a good day. It doesn’t matter how cold it is or what the weather is like—it’s all good because it beats being at work.”

Sweetser has been sledding for the past seven years. She said she regrets not getting to know the wonderful and vast winter wonderland that has been around her.

“I had no idea what I was missing," she said. "It just blew me away—the beauty of the trails and the pristine winter scenery. I have been on a mission ever since to make sure everyone knows about this hidden wonderland.”

With that, Sweetser had some recommendations of certain trails to check out. For the person who has a need for speed, Sweetser recommended the Hart Mountain Road. For someone who enjoys the twisty bush trails with large timber, she suggested checking out Fish Road #1. Sledders seeking scenic lookouts that display the beautiful valley can go to Faye’s Cabin on Trail #3 or visit the lookout on the Hart Lake Trail #2A. She said the rugged traveller who wants a little beauty with their visit should take the Whites Lake Trail for some scenic views.

“Our trail system has a good combination of all types of riding, something for everyone to enjoy,” said Sweetser.

There are 11 warm-up shelters along the valley, all of which have wood stoves prepped with firewood, ready and waiting to be used and enjoyed.

The Swan River Valley also boasts two annual derbies. On the last weekend of February, there is the Bellsite derby, and the Swan River Kinsmen derby happens on the second weekend of March.

Swan River is located about 500 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg between the Duck Mountains and Porcupine Hills, close to the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border. There are two main highways to get to Swan River: highways 10 and 83. However, an even better option is to sled to the area. Trails connect to The Pas, Flin Flon and beyond in the north; Yorkton and Hudson Bay to the west; Dauphin, Ochre River and all the way to the Ontario border to the east; and Roblin and Russell to the south.

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