Coal Banks Trail is a wandering 30 KM+ trail system throughout Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
Coal Banks Trail is an interconnecting pathway system accessible from many locations throughout the City of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. The major trail system is largely paved and also a valuable resource connecting an amazing array of unique historical to modern day attractions. The Lethbridge Visitor Center can provide a useful map which will aid substantially in navigation.
An example entry point for the pathway system begins near Fort Whoop Up within Indian Battle Park just south of High Level Bridge crossing the Oldman River Valley. A short walk from Fort Whoop Up towards the Oldman River leads to good signage and a map board where the Coal Banks Trail pathway continues south beneath formidable Whoop Up Drive Bridge. The busy multiple-lane bridge also has a walkway which is accessible nearby with stairs to link the Coal Banks Trail to additional trail in Buck Trail Park South and Buck Trail Park North to Elizabeth Hall Wetlands along the other (west) side of the Oldman River. This hike will continue south along the river's east side.
Paved pathway proceeds through forested sections along a picturesque canal and past a concealed police firing range to the signed trail junction where Coal Banks Trail continues uphill on the left. Riverview Trail continues straight ahead and the short loop, with river adjacent alternative trail, is worthy of the time to include in this Coal Banks Trail hike.
The clearly-signed and paved Coal Banks Trail heads left on a gentle uphill rise past river valley forest into golden prairie grassland embellished with colorful blooming wildflowers and sweeping vistas across rolling prairie. There is waning evidence of past mining historical significance and narrow, unofficial pathways on the coulee bottom and over ridge tops providing a heightened wilderness experience. Construction for expansion of the University of Lethbridge crowns the far-side, west bank of the Oldman River.
The return route is via the same path taken. Prickly Pear cactus, well camouflaged in the grassland, require sturdy footwear or significant caution. The barbed spines are sufficiently robust to penetrate soft shoes and can be difficult to extract. The route back to parking at Fort Whoop Up in Indian Battle Park is a reverse repeat of access. There are many substantial opportunities to extend hiking on the Coal Banks Trail along both sides of the Oldman River.
The Coal Banks Trail offers significant opportunities to explore the Oldman River Valley and to link into other trail alternatives within the city.
Photographs for this short hike at day's end are captured Wednesday, September 20, 2017 on a portion of the Coal Banks Trail which meanders along both sides of the Oldman River Valley within Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.