Cranbrook may be the largest urban centre within the Kootenays, but it’s far from a metropolis. Once out of the city’s core, a bounty of mountains beckon avid explorers to rip through old logging roads and intricate trail systems.
“In Cranbrook and the East Kootenay, we have access to so many areas,” said Doug Williamson, president of the Kootenay Rockies ATV Club. “We ride down south from Moyie to the U.S. border all the way over to the Koocanusa area. We'll go north of Gallaway and everywhere in between. In Lumberton, we ride the snowmobile trails . . . We have a very large area.”
The extensive trail system for ATVers encompases terrain around Gold Creek, the Bull River, Wild Horse River and the area behind Skookumchuck.
Doug and Val Williamson love riding around Cranbrook. — Photo courtesy Doug Williamson
As you can see, there are plenty of places worth investigating in the Cranbrook area. When it comes to the perfect spot, Williamson has one location he praises most.
“My favourite area is up at Perry Creek,” he said. “There's an old, existing system of logging trails that we’ve had to clear.”
To access the 45-kilometre loop, go down St. Mary River Road near Wycliffe Park. There’s a parking area just past the park off of Perry Creek Road.
“We head up the mountains to the top of the VOR (VHF omnidirectional range),” Williamson said. “It's like a Mars lander at the very top of the mountain on a little plateau. It creates the signal for aircraft to use when they're flying. There's a big dish up on top there.”
The ridge climbs up to a height of 7,500 feet and offers a clear view of Cranbrook, Kimberley and across the valley to Wasa. Along the way, you’ll encounter Mother-in-law Hill, Pit Creek, and a number of small lakes, including Lizbon Lake. After skirting the VOR Ridge, the trail drops down to guide riders through the valley.
Lakit Lake is a popular destination for the Kootenay Rockies ATV Club. — Photo courtesy Doug Williamson
“If more people were able to get out and experience this, there'd be a lot less discontent in the world,” said Williamson. “Unfortunately, most of the world will never be able to experience this. We're very fortunate to live here. The East Kootenay is an incredible place. It doesn't get much better than this. As much quadding, sledding and dirt biking as I've done, I still never take any of this for granted. I know how lucky I am.”