Horseshoe Canyon Loop Trail
Hiking the 3.9 km loop that makes up the Horseshoe Canyon Trail is the best way to see Horseshoe Canyon Provincial Park. This trail is the highlight of the area, and even though it is highly popular, it is worth a visit. You’ll feel like you have been whisked away to another planet when you catch a glimpse of the incredible canyon.
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- Map Data: ©OpenStreetMap
- Tiles: ©CyclOSM
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Route Description for Horseshoe Canyon Loop Trail
The Horseshoe Canyon Trail is located in Horseshoe Provincial Park, which is one of Alberta’s smallest parks. Due to the popularity of the Royal Tyrrell Museum, the Horseshoe Canyon Trail sees a lot of traffic and can get quite busy from spring to fall.
The Horseshoe Canyon Trail is an exciting trail in Drumheller that offers incredible views of the badlands known for fossils and archaeological findings. This trail is perfect for all abilities and is conveniently located next to the Horseshoe Canyon campground.
From the parking area, find the Horseshoe Canyon Trail at the northwest corner. To your right, there is a popular lookout point that is the sole destination for many. Make your way onto the main trail past the lookout point and begin hiking to the right in a counterclockwise direction.
The trail soon provides postcard-like views of the canyon, so be sure to bring your camera along! The trail winds around the canyon, offering many unforgettable lookout points. The canyon itself is the namesake of Horseshoe Canyon Provincial Park. The canyon is a u-shaped natural feature that has been home to many archaeological findings. The burgundy striped walls of the canyon date back to the cretaceous period that was home to many of the dinosaurs whose bones have been discovered here.
As you make your way around the canyon trail, you’ll feel lost in time looking into the unique natural features that the canyon offers. There are plenty of wooden viewing platforms along the route that provide great rest stops and photo opportunities. The route can be hiked in either direction, however we prefer to travel counterclockwise.
Watch for wildlife along the way as this is a popular area for birds and prairie creatures to make appearances.
Horseshoe Canyon itself is a must-see landmark when visiting the area. It is central to one of Alberta’s smallest provincial recreation areas, and is known for its archaeological significance. It is home to many discoveries including dinosaur fossils and other important findings from the cretaceous period when it was a lush tropical habitat for many now extinct animals.
Frequently Asked Questions
How far is Horseshoe Canyon from Drumheller?
Horseshoe Canyon is roughly 16.0 km from Drumheller on Highway 9.
Is Drumheller in the badlands?
Drumheller is a town within the Red Deer River Valley in the badlands of east-central Alberta.
Insider Hints for Horseshoe Canyon Loop Trail
- Book a night at the nearby Horseshoe Canyon Campground. You can walk to Horseshoe Canyon from your campsite easily. The campground features washrooms, showers, wifi, play area, a convenience store, and firepits.
- Be sure to visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum just outside of Drumheller. You will be able to contextualize your experience in Horseshoe Canyon at the educational museum.
- Bring lots of water and sun coverage for this hike as it is highly exposed.
Getting to the Horseshoe Canyon Loop Trail Trailhead
To get to Horseshoe Canyon Trail from Drumheller, join AB-9 W from AB-56 S, and continue for 16.0 km following signs for Horseshoe Canyon. Turn right onto Township Road 284 and then turn right into the trailhead parking area.
Horseshoe Canyon Loop Trail Elevation Graph
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