Whitecourt, Alberta, is famous for scenic trails that wind through forests and along rolling hills. The local club is currently adding new areas to its already expansive trail system for riders to explore this upcoming season. All maps are free and downloadable on the Whitecourt Trailblazers' website. These maps are in the process of changing, but the Trailblazers hope to have updated maps available online by December 1.
“We’ve added a couple of new trails on the south side,” said Cindy Brooks, executive assistant for the Whitecourt Trailblazers, referring to the work-in-progress trail map. The ShiningBank Lookout is a new feature of the south end of the trails. The Bessie Creek Trail connecting Summit Trail to Manweiler is also a new addition to Whitecourt’s system. With 480 kilometres of groomed trails, it’s hard to recommend just one. It’s a good thing the Whitecourt winter season sees 175 centimetres of snow each year, and a long season running from December 1st through the end of March.
“The Eagle River staging area is where we recommend everyone starts from,” said Brooks. This staging area is just 10 minutes northwest of Whitecourt on Highway 32. “There is a cookhouse, washrooms, picnic tables, and parking—trucks and trailers can park there” Brooks said. This staging area sets riders up along one stretch of the Golden Triangle, from which riders can join with the Carson Trail or Carson Lake Trail—a highly recommended spot.
Carson Trail-Carson Lake Loop
The Carson Trail runs east-west and is intersected by the north-south Carson Lake Trail. Both join with the aforementioned Golden Triangle to create a small loop in the middle of Whitecourt’s trail system.
“Our trails are really beautiful,” said Brooks. Riders exploring the Carson Trail can expect boreal forest and rolling hills, according to Brooks. The trails are well-kept by the Trailblazers club: “The Carson Trails are always groomed.” The Golden Triangle, however, is groomed slightly less often, usually beginning at the end of January. The Carson loop is a family-friendly ride: “There’s lots of quick corners and hills, but the trails are family-friendly for the most part,” Brooks said.
All of Whitecourt’s trails are spotted with beautiful lookout points on top of the rolling hills, so riders can take a break to enjoy the views that are a hallmark of the area. Athabasca Lookout is a must-stop spot along Carson Trail. “Athabasca Lookout is really cool. It looks out towards Whitecourt,” Sid Brooks. The elevated view showcases the junction of the McLeod and Athabasca rivers, with the town of Whitecourt nestled in between.
The Carson warm-up shelter is a connector to the Golden Triangle, so riders can decide to stay on the smaller Carson Lake-Carson Trail loop, or venture onto the larger—more remote—Golden Triangle to explore. Going north from this point takes riders in the direction of Swan Hills; to the west, riders can go down the top portion of Carson Trail, and beyond to Fox Creek. The Carson warm-up shelter is equipped with a stove and firepit for mid-day cookouts with friends and family.
Whitecourt Trailblazers club events
With over 500 members in the club, the Whitecourt Trailblazers like to get members out enjoying the trails together. “We have a VIP media ride that is scheduled for January 27th,” said Brooks. The Carson area is a tentative location for this ride as well—it really is a club favourite!
“We are hoping to promote family rides and ladies’ rides,” said Brooks. In the past, members have joined forces to hit the trails, but the club wants to encourage their members to take advantage of their snowy trails as much as possible this year.
The main event, however, is the family rally in the planning stages for February 17 to 19, 2017. “The Friday night is registration and a family social,” said Brooks. “Saturday we are hosting a 150-kilometre ride to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.” The 150 kilometres is tentatively set to showcase Whitecourt’s Silver Triangle route: from Whitecourt to the Summit Trail warm-up shelter, and all the way northwest to the Gundy rest area at the top of the Manweiler Trail. Provincial-themed checkpoints will be scattered along the route.
A second social is being planned for Saturday night, with details to come shortly. Sunday promises another fun ride of 100 kilometres to end at ShiningBank Lookout. Registration will be at the Westward Community Centre on both Friday evening and Saturday morning of the family rally. Check the Trailblazers' website for member event details throughout the season.