The laws governing snowmobile use differ by province and can be confusing. Here, we make it easier to understand what local and out of province snowmobilers will need in terms of insurance, registration and licensing to ride B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
With the Porcupine Mountains to the north and Duck Mountain Provincial Forest to the south, Swan Valley is the perfect destination for snowmobilers who are looking for reliably epic snow conditions and some of the most scenic trails in Manitoba. Extending to the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border, the Swan Valley includes several snowmobile-friendly communities, with the largest being Swan River. This town of about 4,000 is the epicentre of Swan Valley and it has several amenities, including hotels with sled-in, sled-out access to the trail system. It is any wonder, then, that Swan Valley won the 2015 SnoRiders SledTown ShowDown contest as well as multiple Rider’s Choice Awards?
Use this page to plan your next snowmobiling trip to the award-winning Swan Valley.
Swan Valley snowmobile trail maps
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 like 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 too.
Top snowmobile trails in Swan Valley, MB
Swan River is a trail-side town, which means you can ride from all but one hotel in town. There is a snowmobile route that takes snowmobilers out of town to the south and north trail systems. With more than 800 kilometres of maintained trails to pick from, it can be tricky deciding where to go. With that in mind, here are the most popular routes to try:
The Benito snowmobile trail (Trail No. 2) in Swan Valley, MB
Located on the south trail system, the Benito Trail or Trail No. 2 takes riders over rolling hills and through bush trails. You can loop back to Swan River via the Pretty Valley Trail or ride all the way to Madge Lake, Saskatchewan. From the community of Benito, it’s 44 kilometres to Madge Lake where there is food and lodging.
The Wellman Lake snowmobile trail (Trail No. 1) in Swan Valley, MB
Also located on the trail system south of town, the Wellman Lake Trail or Trail No. 1 takes riders into Duck Mountain Provincial Forest. This ride features a good mix of rolling hills and forested trails. Twenty-five kilometres into it, you’ll come to the Wellman Lake warm-up shelter where there is firewood and a barbecue for your cooking convenience.
The Cowan snowmobile trail (Trail No. 6) in Swan Valley, MB
Originally blazed in 1897, the Cowan Trail is a historic route that takes riders on a scenic ride through the bush southeast of Swan River. You can stop at the Cowan warm-up shelter, which is located high on the banks of the North Duck River, before continuing on to Cowan where there is food and fuel.
The Hart Lake snowmobile trail (Trail No. 552) in Swan Valley, MB
The ride from Hart Lake to the sled-friendly community of Bellsite is a local favourite on the north trail system. This route, which is also known as Trail No. 552, travels along a creek and through old-growth timber. There’s a lookout along the way that is a must-stop.
The Fish Road snowmobile trail (Trail No. 549) in Swan Valley, MB
One of the North Mountain Riders’ favourite routes is the Fish Road snowmobile trail or Trail No. 549. It is an extremely scenic ride that traces the path used to haul fish to the processing plants in Dawson Bay. As riders wind their way down the mountain, they will enjoy beautiful views of the Valley.
Where to buy a snowmobile trail pass in Swan Valley, MB
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. See the MPI website to locate a broker in Swan River. Out-of-province snowmobilers must also purchase a Snopass. Options include: an annual pass for $150 or a seven-day pass for $75.50. They must also carry proof of ownership for their sled and have valid registration from another jurisdiction and a minimum of $500,000 third-party liability insurance.
Swan Valley, MB, snowmobiling conditions
For trail conditions, you can visit the North Mountain Riders’ club page on Snoman Inc. or the Swan Valley Snowmobile Association’s club page on Snoman Inc. The Thunderhill Ski Club also posts snow condition updates on its website and Facebook page.
Swan Valley, MB, snowmobile events
- Pickerel Supper - Each year, members of the North Mountain Riders host a pickerel supper on the long weekend in February.
- Bellsite Poker Derby - This is an annual event for all ages and it includes a scenic ride on the North Mountain Riders’ trail system. The event begins at the Bellsite Community Hall and it is held on the last weekend in February.
- Vintage Ride - Organized by the Swan Valley Snowmobile Association, the Vintage Ride usually takes place on the first Saturday in March. Everyone is encouraged to bring out a sled that is 25 years or older. About 40 vintage sleds usually show up per year with 100 to 150 people in attendance. For more info, contact Les Rolsky.
Local snowmobile clubs in Swan Valley, MB
Based in Swan River, the SVSA is an enthusiastic group that maintains the 375-kilometre trail system south of town. The club also has three warm-up shelters and one groomer. It has been a recipient of SnoMan’s excellence award for Outstanding Snowmobile Club of the Year. You can also see the SnoRiders’ club profile to learn more about the SVSA.
The North Mountain Riders, also based in Swan River, is a club of about 25 regular volunteers who maintain 453 kilometres of trails north of Swan River. The club also looks after eight warm-up shelters, which are all furnished and stocked with firewood.
Top winter activities in Swan Valley, MB
- Downhill skiing and snowboarding at Thunderhill Ski Area
- Ice fishing
- Cross-country skiing
- Ice skating at the Centennial Arena in Swan River
- Curling at the Swan River or Bowsman curling rinks
Swan Valley, MB, tourism info
See Discover Swan Valley’s website for more information on snowmobiling, skiing and other winter activities in Swan Valley. You can also visit the Swan Valley Recreation Department’s website for more info.
Driving distances to Swan River, MB
- From Winnipeg, Manitoba: 5 hours
- From Regina, Saskatchewan: 4 hours
- From Kenora, Ontario: 7 hours
Swan Valley, MB, snowmobile dealers
- River Valley Powersports is a Ski-Doo dealership in Swan River that has sales, service, parts and accessories
- Rough Country Sports is a Polaris dealership in Swan River that has sales, service, parts and accessories.
- Fire & Ice Motorsports Ltd. is an Arctic Cat dealership in Swan River that has sales, service, parts and accessories.
Swan Valley, MB, sledder hangouts
- The Westwood Inn in Swan River offers an in-house family dining room and coffee shop, a lounge and a 161-foot pool with waterslide, hot tub and sauna.
- For breakfast, hit the Timberland Inn on the outskirts of Swan River.
- The Moose Range Lodge is a popular destination/stop for Swan River sledders crossing over the border to Saskatchewan.
What local sledders say about Swan Valley, MB
Cowan Trail can be found by travelling southeast of Swan River. It offers scenic, easy riding suited to the whole family. - Lana Sagert photo.
“Our club is looking for an awesome year of snowfalls. Our machines and operators are ready to groom. We are always being complimented by sledders that we have best trails in Manitoba—thanks to our dedicated volunteers! We provide a safe trail system that sledders from Canada can enjoy and will always want to return to the Swan River Valley.”
- Les Rolsky, president of the Swan Valley Snowmobile Association
"The first section of (Trail 549) is on the boundary of the forestry reserve, so you can look down into the valley, and you have the bush on your right-hand side. It’s very pretty. You can see both Swan River and the Duck Mountains. You cover thick, dense bush, wide openings, hills, and you cross a few creeks."
- Leona Sweetser, North Mountain Riders club member
Snowmobile-friendly businesses near Swan River
Trail maps, top snowmobile trails, club contacts and other useful information you can use before planning a snowmobile trip to Swan Valley, MB.
Jim Cottingham is the 2018 Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organization’s National Excellence Award winner for Groomer Operator of the Yearby Kyle Born