Top places to go ATVing in Alberta

Take your quad and do some exploring in these ATV-friendly communities

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ATVs on the mountain

The views are extraordinary on the Crowsnest Pass trails. — Photo courtesy Hal & Nola Turner

Alberta is blessed in the outdoor recreation department, and ATVers gather annually to hit the province’s renowned trail networks. Here are some quad-loving communities to check out if you plan on riding in Alberta this summer.

The Crowsnest Pass

With a multitude of trails managed by the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad, this area is an optimal choice for quadders. The Quad Squad welcomes riders to explore more than 1,300 kilometres of Rocky Mountain terrain, but reminds of the importance of respecting the local ecosystem.

The Porcupine Hills Public Land Use Zone and the Livingstone Public Land Use Zone are riddled with networks perfect for ATVs, side-by-sides and motorcycles—and they are accessible from May to the end of November. Keep an eye on the signage, which will tell you what type of vehicle you’re permitted to ride on any given trail. Check the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad’s list of staging areas to map out your upcoming excursion.

Athabasca

If you’re going to be staying in Athabasca, plan to venture north to the Peace River Wilderness Trail. This route is part of the Trans Canada Trail system, and runs from Sawdy—approximately 25 kilometres north of Athabasca—to Smith, Alberta. You will be sharing space with some majestic wildlife, such as moose, elk, bald eagles, wolves and black bears, so bring your camera and your common sense.

This trail has historical significance, as it was once used by gold seekers making their way to the Klondike, and by pioneer families coming to settle in the Peace River area. You may see gravesites from that time period, or visit the 1910 Tomato Creek stopping house that was in the movie Silence of the North.

You will find some parking at the trail access points. There are also three campsites with toilet facilities, picnic tables and firepits. These can be found at the trailhead near Tomato Creek and at Quinn Creek. There are other toilet facilities situated conveniently along the trail.

Grande Prairie

If you’re coming to Grande Prairie, head to the Wapiti River Valley dunes. This riding zone is located in a delicate ecosystem, so caution is needed. However, it is ideal for outdoor recreation, with seemingly endless terrain that you can spend all day getting to know. It is only a 10-minute drive from the nearest community, so riders can head into town for lunch and then go right back out.

The Wapiti Off-Road Association is an active club that holds events on a regular basis to keep the ATVing spirit alive in Grande Prairie and area. Come out for one of their poker runs, and find out why people consider this one of their favourite places to ride.

Iron Horse Trail

You can’t take a quadding trip through Alberta’s Lakeland region without spending some time on the Iron Horse Trail. A great choice for a leisurely ride with friends and family, this popular 300-kilometre trail is multi-use and you can find several campgrounds along the way. You can also stop in one of the friendly communities dotting this trail to pick up any necessary supplies or grab a meal.

For more information on riding here, and events that take place in the area, follow the Iron Horse Trail Facebook page.

Whitecourt

In addition to being a snowmobiling hot spot, Whitecourt has also made a name for itself in the world of quadding. The Whitecourt ATV Club maintains the local trails and hosts meet and greets, parades and other fun community events to get everyone involved. The club has a plan to develop new marked trail networks over the next few years, incorporating terrain that varies from sandy hills to dense forest.

The goal is to eventually have eight to 10 trails, including ones that are family friendly and designated for events. For now, the club has a temporary field authorization for the old Windfall townsite.

High Level

This northern B.C. community has the advantage of some epic trails. You can choose between open plains, forests, meadows, dunes and hills—or incorporate a combination of terrain into your ride. There are hundreds of kilometres to ATV on here, so you won’t run out of things to see any time soon. Families love to head out on the nearby Crown land, or along the cutlines, seismic lines and wagon trails that typify the area.

Just 32 kilometres north of High Level, you can find another popular riding zone—Hutch Lake. There is a campground on the west side of the lake that is available from mid-May to the end of September, and quadders often come to camp, ride and enjoy the waterside recreation. Sport fishing is a favourite activity here, as are boating, water-skiing and tubing.


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