OVERLANDING LIKE A LOCAL
WITH MOOSE TRAIL
Words by Billie Norman
Photos by Nick Fitzhardinge
Wondering how to escape the crowds, do something different and get off the beaten track next time you’re in the Rockies? Moose Trail Overland Tours is a 4×4 adventure company that has carefully sourced a variety of activities for visitors to experience the mountains like a local, and have a lot of fun while doing it. Here’s the story…
Based in Canmore, Moose Trail Overland was founded by two dads with a shared passion for showing their kids the abundance of outdoor adventure right in their backyard. Ryan Strohmaier and Michael Kearns were originally set up on a play date by their wives. Since then, almost every weekend you would find the guys climbing, hiking, camping, paddleboarding, mountain biking and taking the family on 4×4 adventures. The next logical step was to figure out how to share these unique mountain adventures with others who are wanting that like-a-local experience.
A CONNECTED COMMUNITY
Ryan and Mike are valuable members of the Bow Valley community, and this is shown – among many things – in their commitment to the Canmore Fire Rescue Team. They love being a part of the Rockies’ unique mountain community and believe that, at one point or another, we should all give back to the place we live in.
For them, Moose Trail Overland is one way to give back and share what they as locals do to enjoy the Canadian Rockies. They have chosen to work with companies that offer a family feel when carrying out their activities and, in an effort to highlight the local community, they also choose adventures and activities that are connected to the Bow River. Whether it’s floating on the water, tasting craft liquor made with Bow River sourced water, or observing animals along the riverbanks, you’re sure to feel connected to the Bow Valley after a day with Moose Trail Overland.
What better way to explore the beautiful terrain than in Handsome Andy? This bright orange Ford E350 15-passenger van can take on any off-road terrain, thanks to its 4×4 upgrade and a 6-inch lift. There isn’t anywhere this vehicle can’t take you! Handsome Andy is named after Mike and Ryan’s dear friend who passed away while serving the country. They wanted to honour him for the things that he loved and the person he was, so his name and service number is displayed on the side of this all-terrain vehicle. Overlanding allows Moose Trail Overland to “take the road less travelled, see the real country, and get away from the tourist trail.”
THE BEST OF THE ROCKIES TOUR
We were lucky enough to experience “The Best of the Rockies” tour. Our day began in Canmore for a quick meet-and-greet with other guests before floating down the Bow River with Canmore Raft Tours. Guided by local rafting legend Chris McKenna we were gifted with a wealth of knowledge of the area as well as some great stories from Chris’ years in the raft. While on the Bow we managed to spot elk, calves and even a buck on Elk Island while beavers swam below us and an osprey flew above. After rafting, it was time to relax and sit back in Handsome Andy and drive to the next destination – Mount Engadine Lodge. Spectacular scenery, towering mountains, pristine lakes and wildlife were aplenty as we cruised through Spray Valley Provincial Park and deep into Kananaskis Country.
Upon arrival at Mount Engadine Lodge, we were warmly greeted by Simon Harvie, the General Manager. He taught us about the history of the lodge and the way they do things, such as their unique dining experience featuring locally-sourced food and a family-style seating arrangement. Big wooden tables allow guests to meet and share their adventure stories. We were served a delicious minestrone soup and directed to a charcuterie board filled with local meats, fine cheeses, fresh fruit and baked goods.
→ Read more about Mount Engadine Lodge in our Mountain Lodge Spotlight.
Next, we jumped back into Handsome Andy and headed to Wild Life Distillery, a craft distillery nestled in the industrial area of Canmore. We started with a tasting of the company’s vodka (for the connoisseurs out there: vanilla notes and smooth yet complex), gin (balanced with juniper, citrus and coriander) and tonic syrup (featuring citrus, lemongrass and quinine notes and pairing perfectly with soda). After the tasting, co-founder Matt Widmer talked us through the company’s history, values and production line. By using mountain water from the Bow to sourcing grain from local farmers and producing small batch sizes, Wild Life is able to produce the highest quality product.
→ Learn more about Wild Life Distillery’s authentic Rockies spirits.
If you’re looking for an authentic, local experience, Ryan and Mike at Moose Trail Overland Tours are ready to host you. Looking to connect with them?
Billie Norman fell in love with Canada at the age of seven and writing at the age of 21. After enjoying a couple of winter seasons in the Rockies, it felt right to merge her two passions together.
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