Cottonwood Flats Trail
Cottonwood Flats Trail

Cottonwood Flats Trail

Dinosaur Provincial Park
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River running through Cottonwood Flats in Dinosaur Provincal Park AlbertaCottonwood Flats prairie lazy river in Dinosaur Provincal Park AlbertaCottonwood Flats shallow river shore in Dinosaur Provincal Park AlbertaUnique landscape Cottonwood Flats Dinosaur Provincal Park Alberta-Cottonwood-Flats-path-beside-the-river-Dinosaur-Provincal-Park-Alberta.jpgFamily walking Cottonwood Flats path in Dinosaur Provincal Park AlbertaEarly spring Cottonwood Flats path in Dinosaur Provincal Park Alberta

Cottonwood Flats Trail

Distance: 0.9mi
Elevation: 66ft
Time: 0.5h

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

Cottonwood Flats Trail Map

Getting there

From Brooks, head north on AB-873 for 7.0mi, then turn right onto AB 544. Head east for 10.1mi, 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 1.9mi until taking a slight right onto Township Road 210A. Follow this road for 6.0mi, 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.

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Backcountry Campsites



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Cottonwood Flats Trail
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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

  • 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.


RC-DC 12 months ago

Did this with the family, they loved it! But hot.

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