High Rockies Trail

Spray Lake

The trail follows the near side of the lake from Driftwood day use to Upper Kananaskis Lake. Goat Pond in the distance.

The High Rockies Trail, which connects Goat Creek at the Banff Park boundary to Elk Pass on the Alberta B.C. boundary, is the westernmost section of the Trans Canada Trail in Alberta. The project’s proponent, the Alberta TrailNet Society, envisions the trail becoming a world-class destination trail through Kananaskis Country, with shuttle busses transporting trail users between trailheads. Presently, there are no overnight facilities for thru hikers on multi-day trips between Spray Lakes West and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.

A mixture of old and new trails, it heads south from Goat Creek along existing trails west of the Spray/Smith-Dorrien Highway (742). It passes Goat Pond, crosses Three Sisters Dam and heads down to Driftwood Day Use Area where it crosses to, and stays on, the east side of the highway. With the exception of the section between Chester and Sawmill, the trail to Lower Kananaskis Lake will all be new construction. The plan is to route the trail 200–500 m uphill from the highway to catch the best views through open areas. Even then most of this section will be through forest. Short connectors will be built to access the existing day use areas along the highway.

Of the many bridges to be built the most challenging is the one across Blackshale Creek (about halfway between Black Prince and Peninsula). It is proposed to cross the steep shale gully using a suspension bridge.

After reaching Lower Kananaskis Lake the trail will pass by Canyon campground, along the power line and cross the park road to Elkwood and on past the end of Marl Lake using existing trails. The final section will be south to Boulton, then to Elk Pass trailhead and up Fox Creek to Elk Pass on the power line where a kiosk will be erected.

The trail will cater to hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, snowshoers and in some sections skiers. Construction has recently started near the Goat Creek trailhead and by the end of this summer the trail will have reached the bridge over Buller Creek. The project is being organized in eight phases and organizers are working with the Province on final approval for the detailed alignment of some sections. The approximately 80 km-long trail is expected to be finished before Canada’s 150th celebration in 2017.

High Rockies Trail Map

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8 comments… add one
  • Tony Daffern Jun 28, 2016, 5:53 pm

    Thanks Darin. I have updated the post and the web site to reflect your updated information.

  • Darin Langhorst Jun 28, 2016, 8:31 am

    Just to clarify with updated information. Overall trail length will be ~80km. No connection to Marl Lake is proposed. The Blackshale Creek crossing will be a suspension bridge. The trail will not be open to equestrian usage.

  • Colin Graver Oct 2, 2015, 4:28 pm

    Tony, the Alberta Hiking Association (AHA) a non profit society which acts as an advocate at provincial and regional levels for walking, hiking and snowshoeing interests would like to feature your article on the High Rockies Trail in our e news letter. Would you allow us to do that please?

  • Tony Daffern Sep 24, 2015, 8:13 am

    Sheryl: By the end of October construction should be finished from Goat Creek to Buller Mountain Day use. While it can be walked now, bridges are being installed and a few sections of trail are not finished. By next July/August the trail From Buller to Lower Kananaskis will be under construction and you will not we able to walk or ride it until this time next year. The section through PLPP is all on existing trail to Elk Pass.

  • Sheryl Sep 23, 2015, 5:01 pm

    How will the trail look by next July/August? Is there a trail right now that can be used while this project is being developed? Thanks!

  • RyderDA Jul 10, 2015, 7:27 pm

    As I mentioned on a trip report, on Monday July 6, 2015, commercial trail crews were on Day 1 of chainsawing the first 8 km of the route, starting at West Wind Pass and heading south.

  • Tony Daffern Jun 23, 2015, 10:39 am

    Thanks Jacob. It’s an interesting project that we will be reporting on as various sections are completed. I would be honoured for you to share the story on bikecanmore.ca

  • Jacob Jun 23, 2015, 6:41 am

    Great Article Tony! Could we share your story on bikecanmore.ca?

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