Get local trail tips for Swan Hills snowmobiling, Golden Triangle access
Local sledders Mel and Dale Tonsi, members of the Swan Hills Snow-Goers, show writer Timothy Fowler why Swan Hills and the Golden Triangle are a mecca for snowmobiling. #sledthetriangle
Swan Hills/Big Lakes County, AB - Expert sledders know it’s about the snow. Two of the best things about Swan Hills are the snow and how warmly they embrace sledders. This part of the province normally gets great snowfall––while three feet is the norm, some years as much as seven feet of snow falls.
Swan Hills Snow-Goers leg of the trail is an integral part of The Golden Triangle circuit. All told, the club maintains 450 kilometres of snowmobile trails accessible from town (including their section of the Triangle). And they are serious about it. Like Fox Creek, local bylaws allow snowmobilers to ride in town as long as they follow the rules and behave respectfully.
When Mel and Dale Tonsi were looking for a snowmobile club, they stopped looking when they found Snow-Goers. As Mel said, “We found our small club and the guys in the club welcomed our son like he was their own.”
Trail tips for snowmobiling Swan Hills
I took a ride with Mel, Dale and some of the club to get a feel for the local trails, and came back with their tips. Here’s how to make the most of your time sledding in Swan Hills.
1. Staging area, trail access
Stage at the Tourist Information Booth Staging area. There is plenty of space to offload sleds and park trucks and trailers.
2. Score breakfast & views via sled in town
Head back into town and roll up to Perks of Home Restaurant for a breakfast burrito, check out the Wilderness Playground Public Sculptures and snap a selfie.
3. Hit the trails
On the way to Whitecourt, you can stop at the Snow-Goers Clubhouse which features the biggest and baddest custom-welded woodstoves ever. At letter R on the map (as seen in the image below) you can go south to Whitecourt or west to Fox Creek, or one of the many loops the club maintains.
You can tell from the quality of workmanship at the shelters, and the clear, well maintained trails that this is a club driven by passion.
“Working on the trails is rewarding, you always see lots of people out there,” says Mel of all the work that goes into maintenance. “Even though we're cleaning trails, you always see lots of people out there on our trails––that's the rewarding part of it.”
The ride to Fox Creek and back, or Whitecourt return, is a good day for mid-level riders. On the way to Fox Creek take some time to build a fire and cook some lunch at the warmup cabin at letter B on the map, then on to Harold's Hut and Fox Creek. On the way to Whitecourt, stop in at the Snow-Goers club house.
4. Take a multi-day sled trip
Multi-day trips are a snap from Swan Hills. Why not plan a three-day excursion that includes an overnight? Fuel, meals and accommodation are easily accessible at all three points of The Golden Triangle, Swan Hills, Fox Creek and Whitecourt.
Sledders know that being out on the trails takes the bite out of winter and makes for great winter recreation. Top-tier snowmobiling is about the snow and the people. You’ll find both on The Golden Triangle.
“What's so appealing about Swan Hills and our part of The Golden Triangle is the frolic areas are nice, with good areas to play in,” Mel tips us off. “That's the main reason. And we are in a really good weather belt for snow conditions.”
5. Sled and stay in Swan Hills
When the day’s ride is done sled back to town, pull your sled right up to Derrick Motor Inn, find a place for supper and plan the next day’s excursion.
6. Buy a trail pass, these guys work hard
This is a small club. Five executive club members keep the club rolling and Snow-Goers trail maintenance is shared between 10 members. You can purchase your annual trail pass for $90 via The Golden Triangle, from the Alberta Snowmobile Association or get annual or day passes directly from the Swan Hills Snow-Goers, by reaching out to Don Kelm (780-333-2800 or [email protected]).
7. Join the Swan Hills Snow-Goers annual rally, Feb 25.
Riding with this small but passionate club will make the trails all that much more fun! Check out the details here.
When you go
Trail maps for Swan Hills and the Golden Triangle
For maps of the Swan Hills trail network and all the trails in the Golden Triangle, check out the Golden Triangle website.
Swan Hills snowmobile trail reports
The Swan Hills Snow-Goers maintain an extensive trail network and provide updates on trail work, events and more on their Facebook page.
Swan Hills snowmobile rally & upcoming events
- Starting January 1, 2023, look for the Q.R. code at each Golden Triangle cabin––be sure to check in at each cabin or staging area for a shot at winning a $250 Visa card.
- Feb 25: Swan Hills Snow-Goers 54th Annual Rally. Check out www.facebook.com/swanhillssnowgoers1/ for information and details. Registration happens 9-11 at Keyano Centre, 5632 Main Street, Swan Hills.
- Up for the Iron Sledder challenge? Participate in all three Golden Triangle sled events to compete for a shot at the Iron Sledder Title which comes with an Iron Sledder Sweater, the medal and $1,000 cash. And GLORY. Can’t make all three? Jump in of two of three events and qualify for a shot at gold. Gold Sledder Sweater, the medal and $250 cash. And glory.
More #sledthetriangle stories
Get to know each of the communities in the Golden Triangle snowmobile circuit, and start planning your trip! Plus, get rally dates and get yourself in contention for the Iron Sledder contest.