West Bragg Creek horses update

In light of some new information, we need to reconsider our thinking about the horses on the ski trails. I and many others jumped to conclusions that grooming meant the trails were for skiing only. I think that’s understandable, but in actuality, the ski trails are available for all users to enjoy until Dec 1.

West Bragg Creek

So why do they groom the trails for skiing? Alf Skrastins provides this explanation:

“The technical reason that we groom the XC trails at WBC, as soon as there is any snow, is that this is naturally a low snowfall area and keeping every flake that falls on the trails is the only way that we can have any hope of maintaining XC skiing.  Packing the snow keeps it from blowing away. It minimizes the insulating effect of snow and this drives frost into the ground.  The cold ground, in turn refrigerates the snow and keeps it colder on warm days. “

Every one of the 200 map signs at every trail junction states that the blue & green trails are for XC Skiing from Dec 1 to Mar. 31. 

The real kicker, which  I was not aware of, and I expect hardly anybody is aware of, is that the Alberta Equestrian Federation has contributed thousands of dollars, every year, for the past 7 years, to fund the upgrading of these very trails.

Let’s continue to make West Bragg Creek an inclusive, welcoming place for people of all abilities and interests to enjoy and count our blessings for the unusually early opportunity for some bonus skiing, on trails that every other user has the right to be on. Yesterday’s update from my ski trip to WBC is a good example of all users enjoying this wonderful area. 


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  1. I liked your first post better, you could tell it came strait from the heart. It had excellent art work and good comments which are now all gone. Risto had good short to the point comment I found that summed the situation nicely. This post looks like was written by your lawyer. Hopefully you not swapping skis for the horse now. Although you could probably wax horses tails with your leftover ski wax.

    I didn’t want to get scratched off Alf’s Christmas card list! 🙂 -Bob

    • Bob, this does not sound very sincere. Do you really understand that this is a multi user trail system and that equestrian users, such as myself, have a right to use all these trails? Of course, once December 1 comes, we respect the ski trails and I for one use them lots to ski with my family. Your first post, for me (and unlike ‘fallsalot’) was extremely disrespectful and hurtful to the horse riding community. Why have you not apologized for that? I have personally donated to this trail system, I continue to volunteer for this trail system, my fees to Alberta Equestrian Federation have supported this trail system. Please, what have you done for this trail system?

      • Cowboy Jake, you should try taking the high road. Your comment is pure low-class. SkierBob has raised plenty of money for the GBCTA through this website.

      • You are wrong Jake, not all trails are for horses use. Take a look at this map issued by WBC
        the trails are color coded and brown color represent all season trails where you can ride your horse on.
        All other trails are off limits for horses. I found many horseshoe prints on blue color coded trails which are designated for skiers only. Horse riders should use Tom Snow Trail to connect to Mountain Road. I saw no horse tracks on this trail as of this morning. You are clearly wrong, therefore I request that you withdraw your request for an apology.

        • As Bob says in the article above, and the GBCTA website also states, the blue “Ski Trails” are only reserved for skiers only from December 1 to March 31. This is also explained on every trail sign out on there, so Jake is not “clearly wrong”. I’ve seen lots of horses riding Iron Springs and Elbow in the summer when I’m biking out there and they always have time for a friendly chat, as did the group that I met while out for a ski today. Co-existence is very easy. If you don’t want to share, the Canmore Nordic Centre has a massive network of trails that are reserved for skiers only. Personally I like meeting and chatting with all the other types of trail users (hikers, bikers, horses, snowshoers).

          • following the drama

            I agree with you, Jonathan. Sandy McNabb has the same rule. Until December 1st we are all on equal ground and nobody can mark their territory. At Sandy, not only do we welcome all trail users before the 1st, we also welcome hunters carrying guns. Not only would I share the trail, I would share my lunch and my lip chap if they asked me. But I love a drama. Comes with being retired. What is “fallsalot” going to do if Jake does not withdraw his request?? What if Jake never takes the high-road? But even more intriguing, what if Bob is scratched off Alf’s Christmas Card list???

          • You are right I should think this over. I don’t find this place skier friendly. Maybe Confederation park will get better with time. We shall see. Co-existence of skiers and horses is not easy, that is why CNC does not allow horses on their trails. They don’t even allow bikes on the same trails. Hopefully nobody gets hurt when skier and horse rider collide. It is just the matter of time.

        • Sorry, Fallsalot,…but you are the one who is wrong about this. The same map that you refer to clearly says “Horse use is not permitted on ski trails from Dec 1-Mar 31.” That’s provincial legislation and is enforceable with fines…but only after December 1. Anyone can use those trails until November 30. After Dec 1, Mountain Road is the recommended horse route as it is both an XC ski trail AND a multi-user trail. Only the north side of Mountain Road gets trackset. Non-skiers, including horses, dog sleds, snowshoers, fat-bikers and hikers are asked to keep to the south side of Mountain Road.
          If sharing these trails is not something you can deal with, you can wait until Dec 1 and avoid Mountain Road, Iron Creek, south Elbow ant Telephone Loop. Or you are welcome to go to CNC or other purely XC Ski trail areas.

          • Thanks, Alf, for clarifying this. I love West Bragg! It is now the only place I know of that allows well behaved off leash dogs and I thank them for that. That, and the amazing volunteers who groom the trails X-mas eve so we can all enjoy a perfect X-mas day. Just makes sense that you find the place to ski where all your boxes are ticked off. Instead of you being ticked off. If your day is going to be ruined by a dog, horse, biker, hiker, hunter, male, female, anything that resembles the human species, then find a place where none of the above exist. And please, enjoy yourself.

            • Nom de Plume chaser

              Does hubby know of your secret Nom de Plume? -)

              (just guessing)

            • Haha! After 39 years of marriage we have no secrets! I must be very transparent as apparently I don’t have any secrets from you either. And we don’t even know each other, do we??

            • Thanks for coming out of the closet, Sheila. That was fun!

              Well, I’m a Scorpio, and we are born detectives. I’m also retired, with obviously not enough XC skiing on my agenda!

              I asked myself, how many Sandy McNabb lovers are there out there who possess a very entertaining writing style. Occam’s Razor did the rest -)

            • Henry, you and my beloved are soul mates. He is also a Scorpio, retired, and considers 5 days a week not enough skiing time. And, from time to time, my writing style makes him laugh. When I am not writing about him. Now, the burning question….why am I not on Alf’s Christmas card list??

          • Ouch, you just excluded half the trail system from the use. All it is left are small trails that gets walked over by the dog walkers. Do you let horses on the pink trails too? How about Snowy Owl? Also half of the Telephone loop is pink winter use. The legend of the map does not allow horses. Just wondering.

            • Actually, Mountain Road, Iron Creek, the south start of Elbow and Telephone Loop represent 19 km out of just over 60km…so less than a third the is shared use after December 1. That leaves over 40 km of ski trails, including Hostel Loop and all of the trails south and west of Mountain Road for the exclusive use of skiers in the winter. Horse use is not permitted on Telephone Loop after Dec. 1. Realistically, there are very few equestrians that do trail rides, once the winter sets in. A handful are well prepared for winter riding, but most stay closer to home until the spring.
              The comment about being excluded from use is all about your perspective. Horse back riding, biking, snowshoeing and hiking are all excluded from some part of the trail system for portions of the year. Skiers are permitted on any trail, although snow coverage limits the practicality of this to the snow season. I’ve skied on snowshoe trails, on Winter Multi-user trails, on All-Season trails and open slopes and logged areas on my touring skis, when conditions were right.

  2. I have to say I am please to see this response, I was fairly certain these were mixed use trails, and if we cross country skiers don’t play fair, then maybe the bikers and horse riders won’t share and everyone will lose out!

    • I couldn’t agree more. It seems “we” are always upset with someone, walkers, dogs, snowshoers, fat bikes, horses. Perhaps “we” need to remember we aren’t the only ones who enjoy the outdoors and are passionate about our activity or sport. Well done Bob Truman, to use your influence through your website, which is read by many, to change the tone of this conversation in a reconciliatory and inclusive manner.

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