Updates on The David Thompson Highway Hiking Guide
The David Thompson Highway Hiking Guide by Jane Ross and Daniel Kyba is a great resource to find hiking trails in the western parts of David Thompson Country. It covers the area around Nordegg and Abraham Lake all the way to Banff National Park and the Icefield Parkway.
The second edition came out last year and updates some of the trails, like Coliseum Mountain where the trailhead has moved with the housing development in north Nordegg. Unfortunately, many trails clearly have not been hiked by the authors since the original edition came out over 20 years ago. Here’s a few of the issues we’ve encountered as we hike in the area. We’ll update this post as we encounter other trails to update.
If you’re curious about what was updated between the first and second edition, check out this post.
1. Eagle Mountain
The trail described in the book is for the summit, not the more popular ridge. Following the directions of the book involved walking on an often muddy quad trail followed by a bushwhack and scramble up the side of the mountain with no visible trail.
7. Coliseum Mountain
This trail has been updated from the first edition to reflect the new trailhead location. Our trail guide is available here.
8. Baldy Fire Lookout
The trailhead has been moved up the road making this a 5.6 km (return) hike instead of the 8 km listed in the book. Our trail guide with the updated map is available here.
12. Black Canyon Creek
As mentioned in the book parts of this trail are being rerouted and were impacted by the logging of the area (a FireSmart project – information on the new FireSmart Ecology Trail is available here). On our hike in April 2015 the first and last sections of the trail were in rough conditions and had yet to be fixed by Alberta Environment. Large sections of the new trail felt like a work in progress and we’ll provide an update once we have a chance to hike this trail again. Our hike on that day showed a distance of 15.3 km compared to the 18.4 km listed in the book.
13. Goldeye Lake
The hike includes a side trail along Black Canyon Creek to Highway 11. This trail has been impacted by logging in the area (a FireSmart project) which includes a new trail and bridge that was not yet completed when we hiked the area during the summer of 2016. The views of the small waterfalls mentioned in the book are completely blocked by overgrown trees and the trail from there to Highway 11 is a faint path in most sections. We recommend to skip this section of the trail and only do the loop along the lake instead. This version of the trail is available here.
14. Dry Haven – Goldeye Lake Connector
This trail has been changed significantly due to logging in the area (a FireSmart project). On our hike during the summer 2016 it looked like a new trail was being built and we will post an update once we have a chance to revisit the area.
15. Crescent Falls and Bighorn Canyon
The trail following the canyon is as described but the return trail mentioned is so overgrown as not to be recommended.
23. Allstones Lake
Our measurements do not match up with theirs. The hike to the lake and back is 7.8 km compared to the 9.2 km they have listed (their full listing of 12.9 km includes side trails). Our trail guide with the updated map is available here.
25. Hoodoo Creek
Again, our measurements have the hike at 3.8 return compared to 4.6 km return in the book (the 5.2 km listed include a side trail). Our trail guide with the updated map is available here.
27. Whitegoat Falls
The trail described in the book leads to a steep loose section not recommended for families and most people. Instead, we recommend dropping to the stream bed shortly after the Y junction and at the entrance to the V shaped gorge. From there follow the stream bed up to the falls.
34. Coral Ridge
Coral Ridge does not have an established trail and requires route finding skills. Not recommended for most.
35. Cline River Viewpoint
The map is wrong, showing the trail to the viewpoint as continuing to Sentinel Creek when it should have ended at the view point. The Pinto Lake trail is shown as ending abruptly when it does in fact continues to Sentinel Creek and beyond.
We recommend a different option which includes hiking down to the floor of the canyon for even better sights.
46. BATUS Canyon
Our measurement has this hike shorter at 1.8 km to the viewpoint compared to 2.6 km in the book. We also recommend a side trail to access the entrance of the canyon.
47. Preacher’s Point
The area is still open for random camping, unlike what is mentioned in the book. It makes the area less than desirable for walking as you have to make your way through campsites.
60. Survey Hill and 61. The Meadows
We recommend a more scenic option for the Survey Hill trail than the one described in the book which uses sections of the trail described in The Meadows.
The Meadows trail as described is overgrown and nonexistent in most section, leaving you to find your route through the forest as you go with very little rewards. We do not recommend it.
A Note On Distances
We take our measurements both from the GPS recording on the hike and using the route feature in Gaia GPS. In many cases our distances and elevation gains differ from those listed in the book but we only mention major differences here.
Throughout the book the authors recommend filling up your water bottles at creeks along the way. To protect yourself from diseases, only drink water that has been treated. There are many filters and treatment options available, including some that are light and easy to carry on the trail. These include the MSR Trailshot available from All Out Kids Gear and the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter available at Valhalla Pure Outfitters
Did you come across other trails that need to be updated? Please let us know in the comments below.