Cottonwood Flats Trail

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Very Easy
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
0.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
1.4 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
20 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
10.0
Physical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Cottonwood Flats Trail

The Cottonwood Flats Trail is a unique trail in Dinosaur Provincial Park, with greenery, abundant bird life, and stunning river views.

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Route Description for Cottonwood Flats Trail

If you’re driving Scenic Loop Road in Dinosaur Provincial Park, then the Cottonwood Flats Trail is a fun, family-friendly walk. Cottonwood Flats Trail doesn’t look like the other trails in the park. Rather than walking through the Badlands, the Cottonwood Flats trail leads you into a riparian landscape with shrubs, massive old Cottonwoods, and other trees.

The views of the Red Deer River are perhaps the best part of this short walk. If you get the day right, dawn or dusk can light up the landscape on the other side of the river with the most magical colours.

While Cottonwood Flats is a lollipop route, you can walk this as a loop to maximize the amount of time along the Red Deer River.

From the parking lot, head out on the trail and when you get to the first junction, go right. Follow the interpretive path with storyboards that explain the area and history.

Soon, you come near the Red Deer River, and you’ll have some magnificent views. All too soon, you come to another junction. You can go left here and return to your car, or extend the walk and go right, continuing along the path parallel to the river.

The path veers away from the river and goes parallel to Little Sandhill Creek. Before you know it, you’re back on Scenic Loop Road, where you go left. Normally, walking along a road isn’t ideal, but there are nice views and in 5–10 minutes you’re back at your car.

Insider Hints for Cottonwood Flats Trail

  • If you’re staying in the campground, set your alarm early to go hike this trail as it can be sweltering in summer.
  • Stay on the trail. Off-trail areas in Dinosaur Provincial Park are restricted areas that you can’t access without a guide.
  • Stay on marked paths as the badlands are notoriously slippery when wet, even 2 or 3 days after rainfall.

Getting to the Cottonwood Flats Trail Trailhead

From Brooks, head north on AB-873 for 11.3 km, then turn right onto AB 544. Head east for 16.3 km, then turn left at the Albertosaurus statue, following signs for Dinosaur Provincial Park. Take a right on Township Road 204, then head left at the junction with Range Road 125A, continuing for 3.0 km until taking a slight right onto Township Road 210A. Follow this road for 9.7 km, heading into Dinosaur Provincial Park.

Drive past the Cretaceous Café and onto Scenic Loop Road. Follow the road until you see the parking for Cottonwood Flats Trail. The trailhead is in front of the parking lot.

Route Information

  • When to do

    Year-round

  • Backcountry Campsites

    No

  • Toilets

    Yes at Visitor Centre

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    Lollipop

Cottonwood Flats Trail Elevation Graph

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Cottonwood Flats Trail Reviews

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