Swan Valley brings the snow

This Manitoba sledding zone has been a frequent Rider’s Choice Award winner

by Danielle Cameron

people sledding into a forest
Looks like there's plenty of fresh snow on this gorgeous day in Swan Valley. Lana Sagert photo

We mean it when we say that Swan Valley, Manitoba, has award-worthy terrain. As a past winner of the SledTown ShowDown contest and multiple Rider’s Choice Awards, this sled-friendly area has made a name for itself.

The Swan Valley extends to the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border and includes a few different communities, the largest being Swan River, a town of 4,000 people.

Exceptional snowfall in this region can generally be counted on, and the trails here are some of Manitoba’s most beautiful.

Find your next favourite riding spot

Hard copies of the Swan Valley snowmobile trail maps can be found at most restaurants and gas stations in Swan River and in surrounding communities (such as Benito and Cowan). The warm-up shelters usually have maps as well. You can also download a PDF version of the south trail system from the Swan Valley Snowmobile Association’s website. Printable maps of the north trail system are available for download on the North Mountain Riders’ website.

Being that Swan River is a trail-side community, you can ride your sled directly from most hotels in town. There is a route leading snowmobilers out of town to both the south and north trail systems, with more than 800 kilometres of maintained trails to choose from.

Manitoba snowmobilers are required to purchase a Snopass from Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) and carry a minimum of $500,000 third-party liability insurance to ride on designated SnoMan Inc. snowmobile trails. Out-of-province snowmobilers must also purchase a Snopass, along with proof of ownership for their sled, a valid registration from another jurisdiction and a minimum of $500,000 third-party liability insurance.

Top trails to experience

The Benito snowmobile trail (Trail No. 2) is located on the south trail system. It takes riders over hills and through bush, looping back to Swan River via the Pretty Valley Trail. You could also choose to ride all the way to Madge Lake, Saskatchewan. From the community of Benito, it’s 44 kilometres to Madge Lake, where you can find food and lodging.

The Wellman Lake snowmobile trail (Trail No. 1) is also located on the trail system south of town, and it takes riders into Duck Mountain Provincial Park. Ride for 25 kilometres and you’ll come to the Wellman Lake warm-up shelter where there is firewood and a barbecue.

The Cowan snowmobile trail (Trail No. 6) is a historically significant route that will take you through the bush southeast of Swan River. You can stop at the Cowan warm-up shelter on the banks of the North Duck River before continuing on to Cowan to stock up on supplies.

The Hart Lake snowmobile trail (Trail No. 552) takes you from Hart Lake to the community of Bellsite. This is one of the most popular rides in the north trail system, with creekside views and old-growth timber. There’s a lookout along the way, so bring your camera.

The Fish Road snowmobile trail (Trail No. 549) is among the North Mountain Riders’ favourite routes. This eye-catching path traces the route used to haul fish to the processing plants in Dawson Bay. As you come down the mountain, you’ll be treated to some excellent views of the valley.

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