There’s more to Saskatchewan than wheat fields. The province is covered in lakes, river valleys, forests and even sand dunes. If you know where to look, you can get lost for days in these hidden gems.
Big River has it all for ATVers—open meadows, trails through forest and bush, and lakes in every direction.
“It’s so vast and it changes so quickly,” said Ryan Bergen of the Timber Trails ATV Co-operative. “You can drive on a trail through the pines and it will open up to the meadows, then head back into wet areas with mud to play in, and it happens so fast.”
Riders can head in whatever direction they feel like along Big River’s hundreds of kilometres of trails.
“No (one) direction is better than another around here,” Bergen said. “If you want to stay high and dry and cover lots of ground, we’ve got that. If you like to play in the mud, we’ve got trails for that too. It’s a little of everything.”
With thousands of acres of excellent riding, beautiful scenery and a club driven by enthusiasm, Big River is a must-see destination for Saskatchewan ATVers.
“We want to bring more people out each year and show off what we have here,” Bergen said. “We’re pretty lucky.”
Chad Taylor of the North-East Swamp Donkeys ATV Club experienced his best ride ever with a bunch of family and friends on Fairy Glen Trail south of Fort a la Corne, Saskatchewan.
Taylor describes the Fairy Glen Trail as a rider-friendly trail for everyone that has a mix of everything from sand to mud.
(L to R) Chad Taylor is stoked to enjoy his best day ever with his friend, Matt, and cousin, Brendan. — Photo courtesy Chad Taylor
“Some people came out clean and some of us were covered in mud,” he said. “There’s a go-around for every big mud hole.”
Along the way, Taylor and his buddies took in views of the Saskatchewan River, spotted prairie chickens and deer, and stopped at some old cabins.
“All of our pit stops were full of music blasting and everyone talking, laughing and daring each other to go into mud holes—then laughing when someone got stuck,” he said. “We’d help them out and then move on to the next one to try, ha ha.
“I’m blessed to live where I do.”
If your two favourite things are a quad and a fishing rod, head north of Narrow Hill's Provincial Park, near Little Bear Lake.
“There are quite a few trails up there,” said Trevor Schell, a frequent visitor of the area. “There are so many different trails that branch off. And there are long stretches of old logging roads you can ride on.”
This small lake is Trevor Schell's quiet summer getaway. — Photo courtesy Trevor Schell
The ATV trails through Narrow Hills Provincial Park are the same trails that are ridden in winter with snowmobiles. Most are wide and well-groomed because they are a part of the trans-Canada system.
“Everything is very curvy and hilly,” Schell said. “They call it the rolling hills. That’s the part I like. It’s all boreal forest you’re riding in. Some of the trees are so tall, and you look up and just see trees. Other areas have a soft sand base and open views. It’s just so beautiful.”
In the heart of Saskatchewan beats a verdant paradise known as Prince Albert National Park. With 3,875 square kilometres (2,407 square miles) of boreal forest and aspen parkland, it is home to abundant wildlife—from elk, moose and wolves to one of the last remaining herds of free-range plains bison in the world. The westernmost side of the park is where the bison usually hang out, but other animals can be spotted from the park’s most popular recreation spot—Waskesiu Lake.
The cool, calm waters of Waskesiu Lake are perfect for boating and water sports. — Photo courtesy Waskesiu & Area Wilderness Region
Located roughly in the centre of the park, Waskesiu Lake offers easy access to over 950 square kilometres (590 square miles) of Prussian blue water. There are six boat launches and beaches on Waskesiu Lake and the small resort town of Waskesiu has all the amenities. One could easily spend a weekend (or an entire week) swimming, wakesurfing and touring Waskesiu Lake, then explore nearby Crean, Sandy and Hanging Hearts lakes. Boats are also permitted on Kingsmere Lake if they are under 40 horsepower. All of these lakes offer abundant fishing opportunities as well.
Nesbit Provincial Forest has every type of riding: wide open trails, mainly sandy trails and technical trails through the trees.
“The most popular trails are in the Nesbit forest just south of Prince Albert,” said Ryan Ruf, member of the Sask Trail Riders in Warman, Saskatchewan. “There’s a nice, wide dry trail that winds through well-treed areas and deep mud holes. It’s perfect for the beginner to the lifetime rider. There are short trails for a quick ride and then longer ones for a full day of fun.
Ryan Ruf is comfortable plowing his 2011 Can-Am Outlander 800 R XT through most sludgy situations. — Photo courtesy Ryan Ruf
“There are also many spots to find deeper water and mud to play in. Water wheelies is one of my favourite things to do on the quad. I also enjoy the technical trails to test my skills.”