Bighorn Backcountry is between Nordegg and the entrance to Banff National Park near Saskatchewan Crossing, Alberta, Canada.
Bighorn Backcountry aka David Thompson Country is a spectacular collection of 12 Public Land Use Zones (PLUZs) protecting in excess of 5,000 square kilometers (1.2 million acres). This recreation area is more primitive and less developed like Banff National Park, would have been, say, 75 years ago. Each PLUZ has it's own set of rules, regulations and restrictions. Generally speaking, the massive backcountry area offers amazing opportunities for recreational activities which include camping, hiking, rock climbing, fishing, hunting and cycling. Intuitive route finding ability is frequently required on trails with limited or no signage.
The generally easy, day hiking opportunities presented here occur travelling west and south from Nordegg, Alberta along the David Thompson Highway (Hwy 11) and North Saskatchewan River towards the East Middle Entrance to Banff National Park near Saskatchewan Crossing along the Icefields Parkway.
Click on the red links for more detailed information about the hike.
The fascinating, educational Upper Mines Tour and the tour through Brazeau Collieries near and above historic Nordegg, Alberta, at the east border of Bighorn Backcountry, will consume a full and well-spent day. The richly historic, old coal mining and processing site is a National Historic Site of Canada. There are self-guided walking tours as well and remnants of fascinating history to be discovered.
The hike around Goldeye Lake is short and easy with beautiful scenery and a good mix of features. Access is relatively straightforward and hiking will consume a couple of relaxing hours along lakeside and over a boardwalk through an impressive wetland.
Crescent Falls features two cascading waterfalls in a crescent shaped canyon. Access can be directly at the waterfalls or via a scenic hike from the first viewpoint along the top of the canyon to the spectacular waterfalls. Powerful water and rainbows are surrounded by spectacular scenery.
The half day hike to Tershishner Falls in the morning can be combined with the half day hike to Hoodoo Creek in the afternoon for a spectacular hiking day with a rich assortment of features. The small but striking waterfall is framed by dramatic canyon walls.
Allstones Lake is a short, aggressive ascent to a spectacular and peaceful sub-alpine, mountain-surrounded lake in Bighorn Backcountry. The hike is longer than it seems with significant gross elevation change. Plus. there are other ridge and summit opportunities nearby which are worth the time to pursue on the same hike. Allow a full day to visit and enjoy many side adventures on this route.
The short hike and easy scramble to the top of Windy Point Ridge provides spectacular views of Lake Abraham and surrounding mountains in Bighorn Backcountry, Alberta, Canada. Additional nearby features include investigation of Windy Ridge Pond and Windy Point. The moderate scramble beyond to the summit of The Knuckle is for more experienced hikers/scramblers.
8. Hoodoo Creek
The half day hike to Tershishner Falls in the morning can be combined with the half day hike to Hoodoo Creek in the afternoon for a spectacular hiking day with a rich assortment of features and minimal elevation differential. There is an easy scramble to a modest cave past the hoodoos and beyond the narrows.
The hike from David Thompson Resort to Little Indian Falls on trail above the west shore of Abraham Lake is an excellent forest walk with outstanding views of turquoise water and mountain views. It is wise to get trail route instructions at David Thompson Resort prior to beginning. The peaceful little waterfall is intricately mesmerizing and historically significant.
10. Siffleur Falls
The hike to Siffleur Falls crosses the North Saskatchewan River and Siffleur River on bridges before gentle ascent to skirt a V-shaped canyon with viewpoints until arriving at the beautiful, canyon-enclosed Siffleur Falls. There are two additional waterfalls beyond for those who want a more robust and less crowded hiking experience. Children must be carefully monitored to avoid danger and possibly death. Seriously.
These day hikes in David Thompson Country between Nordegg and the East Middle Entrance to Banff National Park at Saskatchewan Crossing will provide an excellent and diverse backcountry experience. Additionally, there are many backpacking adventures to a wide assortment of wilderness features.
Near David Thompson Resort there are trail riding and backcountry opportunities at McKenzie's Trails West as well as Alpine Helicopter Tours to spectacular and remote areas of Bighorn Backcountry in Alberta, Canada.
There is a multiple day trail opportunity along the David Thompson Highway in Bighorn Backcountry for backpacking into spectacular Pinto Lake, which is an alternative to the more direct approach over Sunset Pass along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.