Hiking Alberta's Southwest


166 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88894-426-8






Reviewed by Lore Hoar

Lore Hoar is an information consultant living in Calgary.


This trail guide was sponsored by the Sierra Club of Western Canada (Alberta Group), which has been running historic trails projects in this area since 1980. Financial assistance was forthcoming also from the Alberta Historical Resource Foundation. The story of southwestern Alberta’s historical development and that of the trails are inseparable, for many of them existed as genuine routes only in the past. The trails are easily accessible now but are largely unmarked and unmaintained.

Southwestern Alberta, as approached in this guide, is bordered on the north by the Bow River and on the south by the American border. Its eastern boundary is Highway 2 south from Calgary, and the western boundary is the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountains. The landscape encompasses spectacular mountains, rugged foothills, and dry prairie grasslands. Main access to the core hiking area is provided by the Crowsnest Highway (Highway 3 running east-west), and the Forestry Trunk Road and West Castle Road, which run north-south.

Hiking opportunities in southwestern Alberta are varied and rewarding. Even the most remote corners of the region can be reached with minimal effort. The Crowsnest back country receives few visitors, and even the most accessible trails are little travelled, making this area a perfect place for wilderness experience. Trails range from bushwhacking to game trails, hiking and horse trails to seismic lines, four-wheel-drive roads and abandoned logging roads. Few are maintained.

Entries in this guide are grouped first into main access areas with an accompanying sketch map. The individual entry starts with a general length and difficulty rating, followed in column form by actual distance, hiking time, elevation gain, maximum elevation, official Alberta forestry map number, and directions for finding the trail head. The verbal description of the trail condition also relates its historical significance. A unique elevation chart accompanies each entry. This allows the hiker to see at a glance where along the trail the maximum elevation will be encountered, an excellent feature for the more casual hiker. The majority of hikes are of the half-day or day variety, lending themselves well to family outings. Although overnight trips are few, the region seems to have a number of routes that could challenge the more seasoned backpacker.


Ambrosi, Joey, “Hiking Alberta's Southwest,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 28, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/36720.