Michel Grenier grew up riding dirt bikes, trikes and ATVs on his family’s dairy farm in Quebec, setting the foundation for his lifelong passion for riding. After a stint in the military, which involved some ATV racing on the side, he has now called Cold Lake, Alberta, home for the last 22 years. On weekdays Grenier spends his time as a consultant for the Royal Canadian Air Force, but his weekends are spent exploring the vast network of trails in the Cold Lake area. “It’s a quadding paradise—there are lots of places to ride,” said Grenier. “I’ve been riding for 23 years and I still find new trails.”
Cold Lake is located in Alberta’s Lakeland District approximately 300 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, close to the Saskatchewan border. It is the northern stop on the Iron Horse trail, which is a 300-kilometre multi-purpose recreational trail connecting numerous communities in northern Alberta and also happens to be a geocaching paradise. “It’s a nice, easy trail for the whole family. It’s groomed during the winter, but in the summer there are people riding on bicycles and horses,” said Grenier. “Everyone shares the trail and rides responsibly—it’s going well. We also have a nice trestle bridge located in Cold Lake. It’s a popular monument to see.”
Another great riding destination in the area is the Lakeland Provincial Recreation Area. “It has marked trails and bridges built above muskeg areas. They are good, well-maintained, easy trails,” said Grenier. Cold Lake also benefits from having lots of Crown land within close proximity of the city to ride on and explore. “There are the famous May Lake trails, Tucker Lake trails, lots of trails all on Crown land. Some of them are packed, some of them can be muddy and some are impossible to go through during the summer because of the muskeg—there are all kinds of challenges,” said Grenier.
Lots of friends to be made ATVing in the Cold Lake area. — Michel Grenier photo
Cold Lake is also home to a professionally designed and built motocross track named the Buster Ingram Memorial Raceway. “This summer we have two provincial motocross races and one provincial ATV race,” said Grenier. His two sons, Alex and Nick, began racing the provincial circuit in their teens following in their father’s footsteps, so Grenier is familiar with the race life. “It’s a very good activity for family bonding. I thought it was the best way to get the kids out of the house and do something outside. They love it and are still riding today,” said Grenier.
The famous trestle bridge located near Cold Lake on the Iron Horse Trail. Would you ATV across it? — Yves Reid photo
Every brand of ATV dealer is either in Cold Lake or close by, so you won’t be out of luck if you need a part while visiting the area. Grenier currently rides a Can-Am, but he won’t hold it against you if you’re loyal to a different brand. “What’s nice about ATVing is that it seems every time you ride you meet new people. Someone is going to bring someone new and you make new friends, meet people on the trails or someone breaks down and you stop and help. A few weeks later you’re probably riding with the new friend you just met,” said Grenier.