Porcupine Mountains - Swan Valley - Manitoba
BELLSITE POKER DERBY
The Bellsite Poker Derby is held annually on the last Sunday of February.
For those of you that not been at the Bellsite Derby yet, here is what to expect.
You will sign in at the Bellsite Community Hall to get registered and pay the fees. They provide coffee, hot chocolate, and muffins in the hall.
Start your day off right visiting with the community centre folks and other participants. Now it’s time to start your ride.
From Bellsite you will travel north to Mafeking on route # 2. Mafeking Gas & Groceries is on the route if you need to top up your fuel tank. Just north of Mafeking you will come to the junction of route # 549. A left turn will have you heading up into the Porcupine Mountains. This is a very pretty trail that winds through old-growth spruce trees and along a creek. For the most part, you are riding uphill in the Porcupine Provincial Forest all the way. The next spot on # 549 will be the Fish Road warm-up shelter that is 20 miles from Bellsite. Some people like to stop here for a warm-up visit and just enjoy the day.
All North Mountain Riders warm-up shelters have wood stoves, firewood, basic supplies, and an outhouse. They are a great place for a rest &/or a visit.
You can warm up there if necessary, or better yet, carry on for another 5 miles to the Steeprock Lake campground where Spruce Products personnel will provide you with lunch at their derby Pit Stop. Smokies on a bun, hot chocolate, and some of the best and biggest cookies ever! But don’t get too carried away, because there is a full course meal waiting for you back at the Bellsite Hall.
At this point, there is a short two-way traffic piece of trail to get you back to trail #549 so PLEASE BE EXTRA CAREFUL there. Trail #549 will take you all the way around Steeprock Lake to the junction of our route #550. Turn left onto #550 and proceed to our Olsen Lake shelter where you can warm up, visit, and enjoy the great outdoors. When leaving the Olsen shelter on #550, turn left at the junction with #558 and carry on down #550 that will take you to the top of the Birch River canyon. Looking off to your right you can see the Faye Corbett Memorial Shelter on the hill across the valley if you look closely through the trees.
When you reach the junction with route #554, turn right and go up the hill to Faye’s Memorial warm-up shelter. PLEASE BE CAREFUL on this trail as it is also two-way traffic. The view from Faye’s is wonderful so take some time to enjoy it.
Leaving Faye’s, backtrack to the #554 junction PLEASE remember to be cautious as this is a two-way traffic zone. Turn right on #554 and follow the trail all the way down the hills to the junction of route #2. Turn left there and you are on the old CNR rail bed passing through Birch River, Novra, and then back to Bellsite.
Once back at the hall, the Bellsite Community Centre folks will have a SUPPER made for you. All of the door prizes, raffle prizes, and the winning poker hands will be posted. Almost everyone gets a door prize, and the meal alone is worth the trip.
Now it’s time to relax and enjoy the great hospitality of the Bellsite people. Homemade supper with fresh buns, meat & potatoes, salads, and desserts……we hope you have loose-fitting clothes on, you will need the room for the meal. The only thing missing is the couch to have a nap on after your big 75 mile ride, a great meal, and all that visiting.
Special THANKS to all the sponsors for door prizes, helping, and all the volunteer work that is done to continue making this a “DO NOT MISS EVENT”.
Mark your calendar for the Sunday of the last weekend in February for the BELLSITE DERBY. DO NOT MISS OUT! See you there.