The Grande Alberta Trail in the Canadian Rockies

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Written by Madison Valois posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

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Smiles abound on the Grande Alberta Trail in the Canadian Rockies.

Smiles abound on the Grande Alberta Trail in the Canadian Rockies.

One of the most interesting trails in the Canadian Rockies, the Grande Alberta Trail is a first-class highway that takes you to some of the most out of the way sites.  This trail has it all, from rushing rivers, to snow-capped mountains and crystal lakes.  Take a side trip to bird-watch or fish, to barrel down the magnificent water slides or to hike through rugged and variable terrain, camera in hand to capture every moment of this vacation in the Canadian Rockies.

The trail starts out in Edmonton where you will head west on Yellowhead Highway to the Pembina River Provincial Park, known for its excellent hiking and fishing opportunities.  Stop in the town of Entwistle, which is full of elegant historic buildings lining the main street.  Take some time in Edson where you can tour a coal mine or mill.  There’s a very good golf course as well so be sure to bring your clubs.  With the indoor slides at the Edson Leisure Centre, swimming is a must.  You can also enjoy the Edson Native Interpretive Trail as well as the Galloway Station Museum.

The town of Hinton makes for a good overnight stop, sitting right in front range of the Canadian Rockies. Here you will find the northern reaches of Jasper National Park where you can explore the many canyons, hoodoos, and sand dunes.  I recommend you book an adventure tour here to enjoy the wildlife viewing as well as other opportunities.  Whether it’s a hike, an ATV trip or a helicopter tour, you will surely enjoy the park’s natural riches.  Drive south on Highway 40 just outside of Hinton to visit the Cadomin Caves, which you must explore with a qualified guide.

Back on Highway 40, head north to Grande Cache, the gateway to Willmore Wilderness Park.  With over 700 km of hiking trails, you will be deep into unspoiled nature, with huge expanses of rivers and snowcapped mountains.  Take a raft or kayak out on Muskeg, Sheep Creek or Smoky River; take your binoculars for an inspirational day of bird watching, rent a mountain bike, take a jet boat excursion or saddle up for a horseback ride through the forests.

If you can tear yourself away from Grande Cache, continue on Highway 40 to Grand Prairie, a beautiful area filled with rolling grasslands.  Surrounded by parks and lakes, the region boasts millions of years of history.  Don’t miss the 27 meter high waterfall in the Wild Kakwa Recreation Area.  Other areas of interest include Crystal Lake, Kleskun Hills Park, Evergreen Park, Muskoseepi Park, the Grande Prairie Museum and the Prairie Art Gallery.

Once back on the trail, you will wind your way east and south on Highway 43 on your trip towards Whitecourt.  Anglers will thrill to the plethora of northern pike, perch and walleye found in Sturgeon Lake, so make sure you spend some time in this spectacular locale.  Once in Whitecourt, known as the “forest center of Alberta,” you can take a tour of a pulp mill, newsprint plant, sawmill or fiberboard plant.  Then get back to Highway 43, which turns into Highway 37 to arrive in Alberta’s capital city, Edmonton.

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Canadian Rockies Hiking Guide

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