Welcome to Central Alberta, a place where almost everyone knows how to drive an off-road vehicle and there’s one parked in most driveways. The area has its share of motorsports enthusiasts and, as the population grows and visitors continue to discover the region, off-road management will become an increasingly important issue.
“Lots of people come out here, and for different reasons,” said Pat Coffey. He’s been off-roading in Whitecourt for the past 20 years and is now involved in growing an ATV club. “They come out here to fish or to bird watch and to hike and hunt and all that. So ATVs are often used to access different things, or they’re used as motor recreation. It is getting busier. I think we have to get organized so we can help build (a riding area) the way we want where it respects and considers everybody and the environment, so we don’t leave anybody out and everybody can enjoy the great outdoors.”
Building a network and community
At the moment, there is plenty of Crown land that is accessible to quadders, as well as independent trails around Whitecourt to serve everyone who likes to get outside. However, there’s not much in the way of marked riding areas.
With the support of the community of Whitecourt, Kim Clark, another avid rider, has stepped up to help organize the riding community and get an established off-road area going. ATV clubs help with trail infrastructure, recreational planning and community relations, meaning a stronger, more positive presence for all riders.
“What the town and county have asked is that we find a place close to Whitecourt where we can kind of start off from,” said Clark. “Windfall is about the closest that we’ve found where we can start and have a staging area. It’s only about 20 minutes west of Whitecourt. We already know there are lots of trails out there, so we want to map (out) what’s already there and get something established so we can move forward.”
Concrete plans for good riding
Clark said she looks forward to getting a concrete plan in place and working with ATVers to make a dedicated riding area a reality. The ATVing in the Whitecourt area is well worth investing in. Both Clark and Coffey said there is something for everybody.
“It varies from extremely difficult riding to easy day rides,” said Coffey. “You can pick and choose. It’s a lot like the sledding around here, actually, and that’s what is beautiful about the area. There are nice easy family trails and for the more experienced, and people that are looking for a more challenging ride, there’s lots of hills and backcountry that is more challenging for sure.”
If you’re an off-road rider near Whitecourt, Alberta, show your support for the efforts to build our sport in the region. You can call Pat Coffey at 780 622 7987 to find out about getting involved or email [email protected]. There’s also an active Whitecourt ATV Facebook group that’s great for questions, discussion and information.