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Sundre is a winter playground in the foothills

Snake Hill Recreation Area considered an oasis within town
Plenty of opportunities for winter recreation in Sundre and area. (Photo contributed by the Town of Sundre and Travel Alberta)

Visitors to Sundre don’t have to go far for a winter adventure — they don’t even have to leave town.

Sundre’s Snake Hill Recreation Area, located in the northwest corner of the community, is home to more than 17 km of groomed nature trails and pathways to explore the woods with snowshoes, cross country skis or fat bikes in the winter.

“We are in the foothills of the mountains. That sometimes drives our temperature down a couple degrees cooler. We definitely get a healthy amount of snow. But we are also a very sunny location. It’s a good balance of snow and sun,” said Jon Allan, economic development officer with Town of Sundre.

Snake Hill Recreation Area is considered an oasis, he said.

“When people come out here they often go to Snake Hill because of the fact that it is so beautiful out there with all of its treed trails. You can actually get away and find some solitude which is really nice,” said Jon Allan Economic development officer with Town of Sundre.

He said technically people at Snake Hill are in town, but it doesn’t feel like it because it’s such a vast forested area.

“You can definitely be on a trail and not run into people.”

Snake Hill’s trail system has some hills for visitors to work their muscles and also includes remnants of an old bobsleigh course from several decades ago that is maintained for tobogganing. Snake Hill connects to trails in Riverside which is flatter for those looking for more leisurely exercise.

Visitors also enjoy the hundreds of kilometres of trails for snowmobiling and sledding within 30 minutes of Sundre. Between the trails in and outside of town, Sundre could be seen as a less crowded alternative to Bragg Creek or Canmore, he said.

“There’s nothing between Sundre and basically Banff national Park. Sundre is a frontier town so it’s just pure outdoor adventure.”

Recreation equipment rentals are available for in-town and out-of-town recreation.

But the Sundre area is not just a place for recreation, he said.

“There are a lot of communities that of course have recreation. But I think where Sundre stands out is that it has culture as well.”

Sundre and District Museum, featuring the Sundre Pioneer Village and Chester Mjolsness World of Wildlife, is open year-round. Visitors can explore a collection of historic and replica buildings and the World of Wildlife exhibit that features hundreds of animals preserved through taxidermy. Renovations to the main gallery of the Riverside museum were recently completed.

Wild Horses of Alberta Society’s refuge ranch, is a one-of-a-kind destination unique to the Sundre area. Open by appointment, the society helps rehabilitate Alberta’s wild horses, and welcomes visitors to explore the compound to learn about Alberta’s rich history of free-roaming horses.

Allan said there’s a mystic around wild horses and visitors may even see a local herd of wild horses that roam near the refuge.

Sundre Winterfest, an annual event that turns Sundre’s Historic Riverside Area into a winter wonderland with ice sculptures, wagon rides, music and merchants, kicks off Feb. 19 and runs throughout the Family Day long weekend.

He said with so many visitors, the community boasts a wide selection of restaurants. McDonald’s Corporation opened a site in Sundre last year, which is a slightly smaller community than usual for the restaurant.

“The reason that’s a big deal is because they don’t operate in a town smaller than a particular size. It’s actually quite an accomplishment for a town our size.”

Plenty of opportunities for winter recreation in Sundre and area. (Photo contributed by the Town of Sundre and Travel Alberta)

Susan Zielinski

About the Author: Susan Zielinski

Susan has been with the Red Deer Advocate since 2001. Her reporting has focused on education, social and health issues.
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