Hikes in David Thompson Country
If you’ve ever travelled across scenic Highway 11, you’ve discovered the beauty that is the David Thompson Highway. Inspired by David Thompson himself, who once mapped and explored Canada from the Pacific to the Great Lakes, the highway makes for an incredible road trip, offering plenty of secret, azure lakes and fantastic hiking in the foothills of the surrounding mountains.
Winding all the way to the Jasper-Banff highway, adventurers have the opportunity to explore over 20 provincial and recreational parks primed for unforgettable outdoor adventures. Enjoy fresh mountain air while hiking to the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, with trail options for beginners to mountaineers. For a slower pace after hiking, spend the afternoon sunbathing on a sheltered beach at Crimson Lake or cast a line from the dock of Fish Lake.
The area remains relatively unexplored, meaning hikers can experience nature in a similar way that David Thompson once did— untouched and pristine. A camping road trip is still the best way to explore the area and its surrounding trails, making for a perfect family-friendly adventure. Whether you camp in an RV or under the stars, be sure to enjoy the nature talk and walk at Crimson Lake Provincial Park or enjoy the fantastic bird watching opportunities at Thompson Creek Provincial Recreational Area. And for an unforgettable educational experience, stop by the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site to learn about Alberta’s coal mining history and to hike along the North Saskatchewan River in the footsteps of David Thompson himself.
The 6 Great Hikes in David Thompson
Hiking in the David Thompson area is like stepping back in time to enjoy untouched nature. Hikers will be rewarded with unobstructed panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains to be enjoyed all to themselves, as hikers come few and far between out in the wilderness.
For a challenging hike, set out on the Vision Quest Ridge, where hikers are rewarded with incredible wildflowers during the summer season and stunning views over Abraham Lake at the summit. Those in search of a slightly easier adventure should visit Coliseum Mountain. This trail is quite popular all year round, with fun switchbacks and ridge walks on the way to the top overlooking Nordegg Village and the Rocky Mountains.
- Tuff Puff Ridge Hike: Tuff Puff Ridge hiking trail is a beautiful long route surrounded by the
wildflowers in the Canadian Rockies that starts from David Thompson Highway.
- Coliseum Mountain Hike: Coliseum Mountain hike near David Thompson Highway is a great day trip. This trail leads to the top of Coliseum Mountain and rewards with views of Nordegg.
- Vision Quest Ridge Trail: Vision Quest Ridge trail near David Thompson Hwy is a short, challenging hike. This trail leads to the Vision Quest Ridge and has views of Abraham Lake.
- Allstones Ridge and Lake Hike: Allstones Ridge and Lake, near David Thompson Hwy, is a trail in Alberta. The trail leads to the lake along the ridge with an extension to reach the top.
- Shunda Mountain (Baldy Lookout) Hike: Shunda Mountain hike near Nordegg is a great trail leading to the Baldy Lookout with a beautiful overlook of the surrounding mountains and lowlands of Alberta.
- Ram Mountain: Set off on this stunning hiking trail near Nordegg, following the remote trail for a steep incline up to the Ram Mountain Fire Overlook for unforgettable sights.
When Is The Best Time To Hike in David Thompson
Perhaps the best part of hiking in the David Thompson area is that most of the trails are accessible all year round. While not all trails are winter maintained, they are often frequented by other hikers, so the trails remain clear even when snow is on the ground.
Though, perhaps the most beautiful time of year to hike in David Thompson Country is during the fall season. Set out on the trails for incredible views overlooking the surrounding area in full foliage colour. Shades of red, yellow and orange will dazzle across the treeline. In the spring, you’ll also find quieter trails and beautiful meadows in full bloom.
How To Plan A Trip To David Thompson
Want to hit the trails in David Thompson, but not sure where to start? Here at 10Adventures, we’re all about making exploring out in nature as easy and possible. That’s why we’ve created a complete guide to planning a trip to David Thompson. Find our recommendations for where to eat, sleep and play—while getting to explore the best of the great outdoors. Pack your bag, we’ll see you there!
Frequently-Asked-Questions About David Thompson
Where is David Thompson Country located?
David Thompson Country is tucked away in West Central Alberta, just slightly north of Calgary. It is considered part of the Rocky Mountain district, but the area remains relatively unknown and offers amazing outdoor adventures far from the crowds.
What’s the main attraction in David Thompson?
Well the trails are an absolute highlight, most locals would consider Crescent Falls the highlight of David Thompson. The Crescent Falls is an incredible waterfall that tumbles nearly 30 meters over two ledges and offers amazing views overlooking Bighorn River Valley. There is a 5.6 km loop if you’d like to hike out to a second lookout spot.
Best Hikes in David Thompson Country
Tuff Puff Ridge Hike
Tuff Puff Ridge is a beautiful trail near David Thompson Highway that attracts a lot of hikers, not only because of its ear-catching name, but also because of the blooming wildflowers surrounding it. The trail is of great quality and the summit has beautiful views of the surrounding Canadian Rockies. You will be able to observe Whirlpool Ridge, Two O-Clock Ridge and North Saskatchewan River from the best angles!
Coliseum Mountain Hike
The trail to the top of Coliseum Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in the surrounding area. Not only does it have beautiful views of the surrounding Canadian Rocky Mountains, but of the Nordegg hamlet as well. Although we recommend hiking during the warm months of the year, this scramble is available all year round and is quite popular among snowshoers.
- Technical Difficulty
- Physical Difficulty
Vision Quest Ridge Trail
The Vision Quest Ridge hike near David Thompson Hwy is a short challenging hike. The trail up is quite steep, but the views once you go above the treeline are breathtaking! This trail also leads to the site that is believed to have held a spiritual meaning to former inhabitants of the surrounding areas.
Allstones Ridge and Lake Hike
Allstones Ridge and Lake hike near David Thompson Highway is a bucket-list trail that leads to the calm Allstones Lake with lots of space for camping and a possibility to hike to the Allstones Peak just nearby. The trail is relatively short, but most of the scramble is quite steep hiking. At around half of the climb to the lake, you’ll be greeted by stunning views of the surrounding valleys and mountains and this view will lead you all the way to the top.
Shunda Mountain Hike (Baldy Lookout)
Shunda Mountain trail is a beautiful route near Nordegg, leading to the fire lookout called the Baldy Lookout. This place was chosen as a great location for a fire lookout because of the expansive views of the surrounding area. The path to the top is quite steep and is used as a service road, so it’s of good quality. The terrain near the top is very open, so beautiful views are guaranteed. And there’s plenty of space for a picnic!
Ram Mountain Hike
The Ram Mountain hike is a beautiful hiking route that is located in the middle of nowhere - around a 1-hour drive from Nordegg and 3.5 from Calgary. This trail is quite remote and not very well known, and that adds up to the whole magic of the surrounding area. Even though this hike is quite long, the route is very pleasant, as it inclines quite slowly, and evenly— so fit hikers might even call this trail ‘easy’!
Crescent Falls Trail
Hiking to Crescent Falls won’t take very long, but you’ll probably want to stay awhile. With its magnificent viewpoint, it's a must-do in the David Thompson region. The nearby campground makes for the perfect basecamp when exploring the area. The trail will take you straight to the falls and back. Although rocky and rooty in some spots, this trail is accessible to all abilities.
Siffleur Falls Trail
The out-and-back Siffleur Falls Trail is an excellent half- to full-day adventure (and possibly overnight). The first set of falls appear quickly, and you can choose your own adventure from here. One waterfall might be satisfactory for your trip, but the whole trail features three sets of falls and crosses two rivers. This is a low-traffic trail that seems to be a hidden gem of the David Thompson Highway region.
The Ram Falls Trail is located in the central hub of Ram Falls Provincial Park, next to the Ram Falls campground. This is a must-do out-and-back hike that takes less than an hour to complete. During the 800 m round trip, be sure to spend some extra time admiring the falls and the abundant scenery in the area.
Cline River Falls Trail
Hiking to Cline River Falls follows a short and easy trail that leads up through the must-see Cline River Canyon to the waterfalls. It requires little effort to reach as you hike for a short distance right off the highway. If you’re coming or going from camping in central Nordegg, this is the perfect trail. You’ll see some incredible natural beauty in just a short trip.
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