Sled the Alberta Golden Triangle #sledthetriangle

The Golden Triangle is a snowmobiler’s dream, with sledding trails connecting Whitecourt, Fox Creek and Swan Hills in a 350-kilometre circuit you can ride over one or several days. #sledthetriangle

Picture this: you swing your leg over the saddle of your sled, rev the throttle and fly down the trail through northern Alberta boreal forest.

Before you, choices are laid out for either single or multi-day rides via the Golden Triangle and club maintained trails beyond.

Alberta's Golden Triangle sledding experience

What makes The Golden Triangle sledding golden? Quite simply, the trail system is huge, with all you need to make your trip epic:

  • 350 kilometre loop Whitecourt to Fox Creek to Swan Hills
  • 1000+ kilometres of club-maintained trails
  • Lakes, sledding hills and meadows beyond
  • Warming huts, cabins, shelters and fire areas
  • Single or multi-day trip options

Singe day or multi-day sled trips
Snowmobilers can plan day trips from any of the three municipalities or extend the pleasure with overnight stays in hotels accessible right from the trail. 

Staging, bylaws and amenities
Every community has good staging areas and special bylaws that allow snowmobilers to legally drive their sleds into the communities for food, fuel and accommodation for a sleds-only based multi-day excursion. 

Video: sledding the Golden Triangle

Hit play to get a taste of the Golden Triangle experience.

Bringing the Golden Triangle to life

Like most dreams, making them come alive takes hard work, and this is what teamwork looks like.

Up until about the 1970s, Alberta Forestry Service maintained recreational trails through certain parts of the province, including Whitecourt, Fox Creek and Swan Hills. When the department stepped back, the three local snowmobile clubs took over trail maintenance in the area. 

Left on their own, the trails would fill in with willow, poplar and evergreens and in a few years would be inaccessible. These volunteers took on the maintenance of the trails for their kids and grandkids that weren’t even born yet.

Photo: Paul Lavoie
Well-maintained trails pass through beautiful northern Alberta boreal forest, connecting the three communities of Whitecourt, Fox Creek and Swan Hills.

It was these efforts that laid the seeds for this sledder's dream. The Golden Triangle was conceived about 30 years ago, and became a dream project for Harold Bellwood, Don Kelm and Dale Gunderson (of Fox Creek, Swan Hills and Whitecourt respectively). They and a handful of others spent three years seeking out the route to connect their trail systems.  

Not long after, the Towns of Whitecourt, Fox Creek, Swan Hills and County of Woodlands recognized the tourism potential and stepped up with funding, giving the Golden Triangle the financial turbo-boost it needed, with the MD of Greenview and Big Lakes County joining later to elevate the experience to what it is today. 

A 50-year plus legacy carries on

In Whitecourt (and beyond), Dale Gunderson is remembered as one of the driving forces of the local snowmobiling scene. He died in 2007, but his impact on building the Triangle route was tremendous and the Gundy Cabin bears his name. (You can read this Trailblazers' tribute to Dale Gunderson here.)

Photo: Paul Lavoie
Warming huts, cabins and shelters along the route make it easy to spend as much time as you want on the trail.

Bellwood and Kelm, along with their respective clubs and the Trailblazers, have carried on, building on the legacy Gunderson left.

Building trails for all riders

“When I am clearing trails, I think about women and children because nine times out of ten Mom is going to be at the back with the younger ones," said Harold Bellwood. "You’ve got to make it so Mom can come along. It's always been family to me."

Photo: Paul Lavoie

“I've never built a trail yet thinking only [advanced-level riders] are going there. I used to take my wife to the mountains with me––just because it's a family thing.” 

All three clubs have annual rallies that are a staple of the season and bring the community together.

Feb 25 Swan Hills Snow-Goers annual rally

Mar 11 Fox Creek Northlands Sno-Goers annual rally

Mar 12 - 19 Whitecourt Trailblazers ride (*in lieu of annual rally)

This year, for extra excitement, the Golden Triangle partners have issued an additional challenge: the Iron Sledder Challenge. (Read on for details.)

The trails are designed to be easy to access and easy to ride but make no mistake, a 350-kilometre run in one day is an intermediate to advanced riders’ game. Which is where the connections to the communities come in.

With easy access to food and hotels, sledders can easily make a multi-day trip of the Golden Triangle.

Don Kelm pointed out that the Great Canadian Snowmobile Trail is accessible right from Swan Hills (and on to Whitecourt and Fox Creek) for the truly amibitious riders who want to extend their journey. 

“My favourite thing about The Golden Triangle is the way it connects our three communities,” said Kelm. 

That connection shows in the way people involved with The Golden Triangle warmly welcome snowmobilers. See the list of events below. Get in on the dream, get in here, #sledthetriangle.

Take the Iron Sledder Challenge

Only the most committed snowmobilers can claim the title of Iron Sledder.

To claim an Iron Sledder medal and be entered to win a $1000 cash prize, you need to compete in all three Golden Triangle Iron Sledder Challenge rally events.

Feb 25 Swan Hills Snow-Goers annual rally

Mar 11 Fox Creek Northlands Sno-Goers annual rally

Mar 12 - 19 Whitecourt Trailblazers ride (*in lieu of annual rally)

Each club's rally features additional fun like raffles, food and community gatherings.

More Golden Triangle info

Before you head out, be sure to pick up your trail pass or day pass from the Golden Triangle, Alberta Snowmobile Association or club websites for Whitecourt, Fox Creek or Swan Hills.

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