Scenic Loop Trail
- Physical DifficultyThis 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.
- Technical DifficultyThis 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.
Walk the beautiful Scenic Loop in Dinosaur Provincial Park. Along the way, hit three of the best trails: Cottonwood Flats Trail, Trail of the Fossil Hunters, and Badlands Trail.
View Scenic Loop Trail on Map
- Map Data: ©OpenStreetMap
- Tiles: ©CyclOSM
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Route Description for Scenic Loop Trail
This is the best walk in Dinosaur Provincial Park as it allows you to walk along the Scenic Road that most people drive on. You’ll have plenty of time to savour the views and explore three different ecosystems in one walk.
If you’re camping, start the Scenic Loop Trail from the north campground, where you can walk and connect with Cottonwood Flats Trail close to site N-102.
If you aren’t camping, start from the parking lot at the Cretaceous Café, and follow the path past the old John Ware log cabin. You’ll then cross over the road and head to your left, aiming for a footbridge over Little Sandhill Creek Creek. You pop out by campsite N-116 and go to the left following the road, passing campsite N-114 on your left. At campsite N-102, you’ll follow a gravel path that takes off to the left. This connects with the Cottonwood Flats Trail.
The Cottonwood Flats Trail takes you through brush and a few Cottonwoods, granting some spectacular views of the Red Deer River and the badlands and hoodoos on the other side.
Follow this path until you come to a T-junction. Take the left-most option as this lets you then meet up and head down to the main Scenic Loop Road.
Walk along the road for 5–10 minutes until you see a little house and a parking lot. This is the Trail of the Fossil Hunters. Have a look in the house at the preserved Dinosaur dig, then follow the path out along a beautiful trail. When you reach the end, return the way you came.
When you are back at the house, don’t go left to the road. Instead, look for a path that goes to the right, taking you to Scenic Loop Road on the other side.
You now have your longest walk on the road, but it’s the prettiest part of the road, with wonderful views on both sides. Don’t leave the road as this is part of a restricted area that you can’t explore without a guide.
Soon you come to a parking lot on your left, where the Badlands Trail starts. This pretty 1.3km lollipop route takes you into the Badlands on an exciting route with vast views.
After doing this lollipop route, come back to Scenic Loop Road and follow the road over the bridge and back to the Cretaceous Café.
If you’re only at Dinosaur Provincial Park for a day, the Scenic Loop Trail is a great way to make the most of your time there.
Insider Hints for Scenic Loop Trail
- It can be sweltering in summer, so go early or late in the day and make sure children have hats and sunscreen.
- Bring bug spray as mosquitos can be bad during summer.
- Stay on marked paths as the badlands are notoriously slippery when wet, even 2 or 3 days after rainfall.
- While you can rush this walk, kids love to explore and look, so this is a great half-day adventure with the family.
- You may see beavers if you pass over Little Sandhill Creek and you time your hike early or late in the day. In addition, birds and deer abound along the Cottonwood Flats Trail, so look out for wildlife.
Getting to the Scenic Loop 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, and then park in the parking lot by the Cretaceous Cafe.
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