Sledding for all in the Swan Valley

With a strong club, scenic trails and wide-open spaces, the area around Swan River in Manitoba is a popular destination

by Kristen Mitchell

A line-up of sledders are parked on a ridge near Swan River, Manitoba.
There are plenty of sled enthusiasts to be found around Swan River, Manitoba. Photo courtesy Vaughn Behrmann

As a club, the Swan Valley Snowmobile Association (SVSA) takes a great deal of pride in the 375 kilometres of trail that it grooms around Swan River in western Manitoba. Trails are marked every tenth of a kilometre and cover flat lands, rolling hills and bush trails. Club president Dave Bobick often rides with his wife or with other families from the club and said the entire network is simple to navigate and fun to explore.

A trail to visit

The Wellman Lake Trail (the No. 1 trail) heads southeast of town and into Duck Mountain Provincial Park. There are three cozy warm-up shelters around Swan River, each with firewood, barbecues and lighting. The Wellman Lake Shelter is about 24 kilometres (15 miles) along the trail through a mix of scenic woods and wide-open trail. Families can head to the shelter for a winter picnic or can take Bobick’s favourite trip right down to the lake.

“You get about 10 miles (16 kilometres) from town and then it’s 20 miles (32 kilometres) to the lake and it’s a really scenic trail,” said Bobick on riding the No. 1 trail. “It’s up and down and around corners and stuff like that, so that’s basically where I like to ride. We usually go to the lake first, which takes you about an hour and a half, and we’ll have a coffee up there. Then we’ll turn around and stop at the warm-up shelter and come home.”

Sled-friendly community

Those who like to play will also find lots of open space in the Swan Valley before riding up into the hills on either side. The area usually gets plenty of snow, said Bobick, with the season often getting underway in early December and lasting well into March. Check the SVSA website for details throughout the year.

Swan River is a sled-friendly town, and the SVSA has previously been awarded Club of the Year for Manitoba and is regularly a provincial favourite in Snorider’s annual Rider’s Choice Awards. For Bobick, a strong community, great trails and getting together with friends are some of the reasons he continues to enjoy getting out and about during the Swan Valley winter. 

Meet the rider:

Name: Dave Bobick
Lives in: Swan River
Age: 52
Occupation: Conservation and apartment rentals.
Sledding since: Age 18
First sled: An Evinrude
Current sled: An E-TEC Ski-doo.
What did you like about your sled? I like the fuel economy. It’s awesome. You can put about 120 miles on and you don’t have to worry about fuel. There’s no smoke anymore. 
Where do you want to ride in the future? I hear a lot about down south around Winnipeg and Pinawa. I’ve always wanted to take a tour up there and see what they do compared to what we do. 
Describe your riding style: I’m kind of a moderate rider. We’re more out to see the scenic trail.
What is it that keeps you coming back, year after year? The friendship. I have a lot of good friends in the club, as well as just getting out in the fresh air and off the couch. (I) just like going out there and meeting different kinds of people and listening to different ideas.
You seem to have a great sled community. Yeah, we do. It’s a very close group. We all work very hard at it. . . . We always seem to pull together and get things done.

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