Horseshoe Canyon - Drumheller - Hiking Alberta

 

Horseshoe Canyon is clearly signed about 18 KM south-west on the Highway 9 access into Drumheller, Alberta.

 

Horseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

This bizarre and incredibly beautiful badlands feature punctuates seemingly limitless stretches of rolling and relatively flat, monotonous prairie landscape.  Horseshoe Canyon is a unique, beautiful and forever memorable hiking experience.

Clearly signed Horeshoe Canyon is a turn west to short arrival at parking for a fenced overview hosting large klinkers, informative signage, a covered picnic table feature and viewing platforms over thousands of acres of spectacular badlands erosion.

On this Wednesday, we have the entire facility to ourselves.  Horseshoe Canyon is always crowded and busy on fair weather, Spring, Summer and Autumn weekends.

Access to the bottom of the canyon is via a paved segment of path east around fencing to the gravel ramp which can be augmented by wide, wooden stairs for descent.

The descent leads into the fascinating features unique to badlands.  Winding trails at the bottom can be accessed from the wide gravel pathway reaching across the flat desert floor.  The pending adventure should be limited only by personal experience, proper gear and common sense.  Carry plenty of water.

 

Horseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaHorseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaHorseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaHorseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Arrival at floor level of Horseshoe Canyon is entry into a bizarre netherworld of ancient times on our planet prior to human habitation.

The short section of fresh gravel wide trail will perform better when more foot traffic packs it down.  This new area is obviously under construction and fresh new trails will allow old traffic-beaten trails to recover.

At the end of new gravel, Ken, Dianna and I decide to explore off-trail.  What could possibly go wrong?  Against the face of far canyon walls, the terrain is wild, fresh and real.

 

Horseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaHorseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Pathways hiked are game trails and mostly dry stream beds.  Sheltered wet sections on this day are mercifully brief and similar to hiking through glue.  Sturdy boots pick up the mud and thigh muscles become curious about highly modified walking dynamics.

Dense brush often determines routing as our adventure heads predominantly west and south.  Following an hour of fascinating progress through and past several canyon obstacles, spontaneous routing continues along the fascinating and challenging terrain.  This is a uniquely beautiful place.

 

Horseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaHorseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaHorseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaHorseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaHorseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Animal, avian and reptile activity is visually present on predominantly, powder-dry ground.  Generally, clear areas provide sensible passage. Frequently, progress is challenging through narrow fissures and dense desert brush.

The surrounding and total saturation in completely foreign terrain raises the threshold of awareness.  The smallest features are examined carefully as the senses struggle to accept and process large volumes of new information.

Stark foreign surroundings host strange new plants combined with unique weathered shapes and forms, each a weathered portrait unfolding perpetually over thousands of years for observation in this unique and fascinating moment.

 

Horseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaHorseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

In the interest of time, and potential preservation of life within building and oppressive desert heat, the collective decision is to backtrack with a directional objective for location of a more gentle return trail on path used by people.

Heading towards the east wall on random trail soon intercepts a clear, flat and forgiving human trail.  Longer views can be more fully absorbed and better appreciated when attention is less compromised by trail complexity.

 

Horseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaHorseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaHorseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaHorseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Soon, one of the viewing platforms from the surface park complex peeks into view on the edge of the horizon.  We are now clearly returning to our start point and within a short time the newly laid gravel trail is intersected for return to canyon top.

It is a unique privilege to have the bottom of this colorful canyon entirely to ourselves.

 

Horseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaHorseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, CanadaHorseshoe Canyon, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

 

Our hike in Horseshoe Canyon provides a fascinating glance into the nature of prehistoric times.

Carrying extra water is very important, particularly for children and elderly people.  Drinking the water is more important than carrying the water and the load will be reduced in the process.

This special hike in Horseshoe Canyon, south-west from Drumheller, occurred the afternoon of Wednesday May 29, 2019.  The return drive to Calgary requires an hour and a half drive predominantly through prairie on good paved road.

This special hiking day included an early morning drive from Calgary to cross the Red Deer River on the Bleriot Ferry for sightseeing at the Ghost Town of Rowley.

Lunch in the shade near the Suspension Bridge at Rosedale precludes brief hiking and exploration at the old, coal mining town of Wayne, Alberta.

Unique hiking at the Hoodoos Trail along Hwy 10 through East Coulee precludes this fascinating hiking adventure in Horseshoe Canyon SW of Drumheller.  Grand memories are created.

 

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