ATV adventures in central Alberta’s challenging terrain

Sundre is central Alberta’s phenomenal off-road playground

by Susan Lohrer |

Mike Iverson riding his Grizzly on Williams Creek road just north off of Coal Camp Road.

Mike Iverson riding his Grizzly on Williams Creek Road just north of Coal Camp Road. — Tim Arnold photo

Powersports enthusiast Mike Iverson rides his ATV almost every weekend, and in the 10 years he’s lived in Sundre, he estimates he’s explored one-tenth of the thousands of kilometres of trails that form central and southern Alberta's phenomenal off-road playground.

Don Leuf enjoying a day in the bush south of the James-Wilson Recreation area

Don Leuf enjoying a day in the bush south of the James-Wilson Recreation area — Tim Arnold photo

The magnificent terrain can be unforgiving at times, so he suggests it’s best to be as prepared as possible. During a 40-kilometre day ride, you can expect to navigate steep hills, loose shale, muskeg, mud, and fast, wide-open trails. “I’ve never ridden in an area with such a great variety of terrain,” Iverson said.

With all those years of riding, Iverson has had adventures aplenty. One of his favourites took place during Sundre’s annual poker rally, a fundraiser put on by the Sundre Fire Rescue Society.

Shirley Arnold makes her Polaris 550 work a little getting her through the mud on a trail in Tay River area.

Shirley Arnold makes her Polaris 550 work a little getting her through the mud on a trail in the Tay River area. — Tim Arnold photo

Another local rider participating in the rally broke an axle on his Rhino going through a mudhole. Cody, a mechanic on the Mountain’s Edge Cycle and Sled team that Iverson belongs to, was driving the same machine and had a spare axle, so he offered to help. They returned to the camp to get the axle, and then everyone waited (rather impatiently, Iverson admits; it was a hot, dusty day and they were all eager to get back to the rally) for the part to be installed. Finally the repaired Rhino was on its way and the Mountain’s Edge team hit the trail again. Ten minutes later, Cody broke the exact same part on his own Rhino and was out of the running.

Carole Collins takes on a mudhole on a trail north of Burntstick Lake on a ride to the Clearwater River

Carole Collins takes on a mudhole on a trail north of Burnstick Lake on a ride to the Clearwater River. — Tim Arnold photo

Laughing, Iverson said, “It’s a busy area, there’s always somebody who needs help, and it might be you. Hopefully someone you meet is a little more prepared than you were.”

Although Iverson's team didn’t win the race that day, it was a great ride for all, followed by good friends, hotdogs and beers around the campfire that night—and another adventure to add to his collection.

Where to ride near Sundre

  • Deer Creek: 45 km southwest of Sundre
  • James-Wilson Recreation Area: 40 km west of Sundre on Hwy. 40.
  • Red Deer River: 60 km southwest of Sundre off Hwy. 734.
  • Mountain Aire Lodge: 60 km west of Sundre on Coal Camp Road south of the Red Deer River at Hwy. 940. Access to Hunter Valley and Waiporous Creek area.

For more information about these trails and more, including OHV staging, accommodations and phone numbers, visit http://www.aohva.com/rides.php

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