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Hiking the Kootenay Plains

Hiking in Central Alberta

From prairies to the Rocky Mountains, Central Alberta has the best hikes around.

Throughout David Thompson Country explore the quieter side of the foothills and the Rocky Mountains. Featuring spectacular waterfalls, jagged peaks, remote alpine meadows carpeted in wildflowers and glacier-fed lakes without the crowds.

The Red Deer area is the perfect place for a stroll through the parkland and prairie landscape. From the City of Red Deer's extensive trail system to the J.J. Collett Natural Area there is no shortage of options.

One of our kids favourite trail, this one takes you to a double punch bowl set of waterfalls on a pretty creek.

When we were there last the area was filled with smoke from wildfires in British Columbia but the wildflowers along the trail made up for the hazy skies.

This easy hike starts at a busy trailhead but quickly gets away from the crowds where you'll enjoy amazing views of the North Saskatchewan River valley and the surrounding mountains.

This trail is sometimes referred by Alberta Parks as Survey Hill given the great vantage point that is your destination. This often leads to confusion given that there is a place called Survey Hill a little further down the trail.

A great option for a short hike taking you close to the edge of the Cline River Canyon and to dramatic views along the way.

This trail is similar to the first section of the Coral and Cline Canyons hike (you'll see the trail across the canyon on many occasions) with the option of reaching the bottom of the canyon in an area popular in the winter with ice climbers.

This short hike above Preacher's Point takes you to some nice views of Abraham Lake and the Kootenay Plains. It's a quick hike but there's no reason not to bring a book along and linger for a while to enjoy the views.

This short hike brings you up for some great views of the Kootenay Plains and BATUS Canyon, an area that was once a popular training ground for the British Army Training Unit Suffield and nowadays with ice climbers throughout the winter.

Once the site of a gravel pit, a dump and a sawmill, this riverside park is a reclamation success story now showcasing paved path along a lake where Canada Geese nest and through a cool spruce forest.

This short paved loop gives a good introduction to Alberta's oldest federal migratory bird sanctuary, taking you from the Kerry Wood Nature Centre to the bird blind on the West Gaetz Lake and across an area typical of the aspen parkland where the forest and the grassland exist side by side.

Along the way keep an eye out for hairy and downy woodpeckers, nuthatch, chickadee, ruffed grouse, red-tailed hawk, waterfowl, beaver, muskrat, Richardson ground squirrel, coyote, deer or even a moose.

Explore Alberta's oldest federal migratory bird sanctuary. This 4 km loop takes you from the Kerry Wood Nature Centre around the Gaetz Lakes with stops at bird blinds and viewpoints along the way. Take your time on this hike to stop and look at the flowers, birds and wildlife that make their home in this wild refuge in the middle of the city.

After a crazy summer we finally had a chance to head out for a couple days of family fun. We'd originally planned to do the second mine tour but they had closed for the season the day before. Making new plans on a lazy day we decided to head out for a short family hike. We hadn't spent much time at Goldeye Lake before and since we'd often heard about it we decided to give it a try.

Maybe our expectations were too high but we were a little disappointed with this hike. While pleasant and a great option for an evening stroll, we found that this walk didn't offer views or an experience as good as nearby Fish Lake.

I found this hike almost by accident. The Miners' Cafe in Nordegg posted a picture of the area and it looked well worth the hike. The first attempt on a rainy and muddy day, following the directions from the David Thompson Highway Hiking Guide, wasn't overly successful. It also turned out that the directions were for the summit, not the ridge I was looking for.

My second attempt, from the Beaverdam PRA was much more fruitful, taking me along a nice trail through the forest up to the ridge, overlooking the townsite, with views of the Rockies to the west and far onto the horizon to the east. Eagle Mountain Ridge is not as busy as it's neighbour, Coliseum Mountain, and offers views that are at least as spectacular.

The trail to the first set of falls on the Siffleur River is very popular but going beyond those falls offers great views and the likelihood of hiking the rest of the day without seeing anyone else.