Badlands Trail is a short hike through dramatic terrain in Dinosaur Provincial Park NE of Brooks, Alberta, Canada.
From main parking at the Concession and Convenience Store, paved road turns right, then curls to the right around and past the historic John Ware Cabin towards the campground area. Clear signage directs traffic left across the bridge over the creek to the one-way, counter-clockwise 3.2 KM (2⅛ mile) Public Loop Road. Along the good-quality gravel Public Loop Road, there are small parking areas at three short, easy and fascinating interpretive trails in addition to two separate enclosed and educational Fossil Exhibits.
The first trail encountered is the 1.3 KM (⅞ mile) clearly-signed Badlands Trail. Although the short hiking trails are often too busy, and always too fragile, to allow bicycles on the trail, there are racks to stow personal or rental bikes at the trail-head as an alternative to navigating the Public Loop Road with a car or an awkward RV.
Good gravel trail gently ramps up past impressive trail-side hoodoos and typically formidable badlands terrain with intermittent and impressive long views until a gentle ascent arrives at the Armin G. Eger memorial bench near wooden beam stairs which descend into a nearby spacious, shallow and strikingly beautiful valley. The short loop can be achieved in the opposite direction by passing the stairs and using them later for ascent from the valley.
The route through the badlands formations is an ethereal experience as good, well-marked trail navigates through a wide variety of awesome rock, land and vegetation features. Earth colors predominate. Tight terrain alternates with intermittent long vistas as the trail gradually gains elevation through phenomenal white sculpture laced with contrasting rusty ironstone.
Developing views along the impressive loop swing around to include the Cottonwood forests adjacent to the creek through the Dinosaur Provincial Park campground. Stark bold terrain is punctuated with hardy vegetation and the occasional pocket of brilliant wildflowers.
The final stretch of the loop trail navigates through massive white monuments and long views before passing the steps originally used for descent and the memorial bench to exit via the same short section of initial trail used for access.
The Badlands Trail along the Public Loop Road at Dinosaur Provincial Park is a short, easy experience which provides an excellent Badlands experience. The trail is short with modest and gentle elevation but there are many reasons to interrupt progress for study, even admiration and appreciation of unique features. This is near-desert terrain without shade so a hot, sunny, clear day can be dangerously compromising without adequate skin and head protection combined with sustained intake of water and/or juice. Sturdy leather footwear covering the ankle improves protection from uneven, possibly slippery terrain and sharp, penetrating cactus spines.