Over 3,200 km of trails map Central Alberta’s landscape in both urban and rural municipalities. From the mountains to the grass sea, the region shines as the destination for hiking and horse riding.
The Great Trail
You might know it as the Trans Canada Trail. Completed in 2017, it spans 24,000 km across Canada, connects three seas, and touches all 13 provinces and territories. Central Alberta is home to some scenic and interesting sections of the trail. There is only one spot along the trail that passes indoors throughout all of Canada – the Blackfalds Abbey Centre. The Trail also passes through Lacombe and winds around Red Deer’s river parks system before passing down near the Red Deer Regional Airport, and then on to Innisfail and Olds.
Within Red Deer lay over 110 km of popular trails. Locals and visitors alike enjoy riding on a boat along the river and on foot or horseback through Waskasoo Park and Heritage Ranch. Red Deer’s trails are uncrowded and scenic, and the trail system can be accessed from every major road and neighbourhood in the city. In fact, it’s possible to walk, run, or cycle from one end of Red Deer to another without using any major roadways.
Red Deer’s Birding Trail includes the best trails for bird lovers to explore. Visitors can join the Red Deer River Naturalists on Sunday afternoons from September to May for their weekly free bird focus group walks. Wildflower lovers will enjoy the free flower focus group walks, which take place every third Wednesday from September to November and January to April.
The Track on 2 is a horse racing and events centre just outside of Lacombe. It’s a great location for weddings! The facility includes a large grandstand, riding arena, restaurant (with catering!), and a number of stables. Between a dirt track and a turf track, there are three kilometres for you to ride!
Retreats & Lodges
Goldeye Centre, near Nordegg on the shores of Goldeye Lake, is a retreat and events location, featuring camps, wedding venues, rock climbing, and ropes courses. If you’re Christian, Frontier Lodge, also near Nordegg, offers a variety of youth summer camps.
Looking for something a bit more adventurous and daring? No matter how fast you run or how well you hide, Red Deer’s Ranchtracker at Heritage Ranch will find you. Outrunning a cowboy is never easy. Get dropped in the woods and see if you can beat the man in the saddle. Win or lose, you can enjoy a steak dinner after the chase is over.
Here’s the big one, the one, the only, The Mane Event! With some of the most knowledgeable and skilled horse trainers and educators from all over North America and beyond, exhibitors and a trade show, education and cutting edge training tools, equine health and entertainment, it has become Canada’s largest horse exposition and trade show!
The RCMP Musical Ride tour will be coming through Central Alberta this year in Lacombe on August 16, and through Rocky Mountain House on August 17 & 18, 2019.
Stall No. 22 is an incredibly unique and diverse retail boutique for equestrian lovers. Located at the Horse in Hand Ranch just outside Blackfalds, they sell home décor, accent furniture, local and Canadian artisan wares, fashion accessories and necessities, and of course, equine fare. If you need more than a shop, the Wildhorse Ranch & Outfitters at Rocky Mountain House sell outfitter gear. They also offer experiences and camps.
You’ll Never Go Alone
Stay young, stay active! Join one of Central Alberta’s hiking clubs, the Red Deer Ramblers or the Central Alberta Mountain Club. They offer training sessions, information, and group hikes. If you want to get even more active, there’s also their umbrella organization, the Alberta Hiking Association.
For an easy family day hike, the 10 km long Ameranda Trail surrounds Crimson lake, and accommodates walking, running, and biking. Although ungroomed, it’s also a great spot for cross country skiing!
McKenzie’s Trails West is a family-run outfit with 50 years of experience in guiding unique wilderness horseback trips, vacations, and adventures. Whether you want a couple of hours or a couple of days, pack or trail trips, forest or mountains, the wonder is unmatched. Explore the untouched and spectacular wilderness of the Canadian Rockies with hourly rates or a variety of special events, horsemanship experience, and genuine Cowboy barbecues and coffee.
The Mountains for Everyone
Never been hiking? That’s okay! Even going on a day hike can be intimidating if you don’t know where to begin. No matter what time of year or what level of experience you may find yourself at, Pursuit Adventures has professional guides for day hikes, sightseeing tours, and snowshoe adventures. All season, all terrain – yes, even river adventures! Guided hikes are also available through Olds’ Community Learning Campus’s Outdoor Centre, including custom hikes and courses in map reading, wilderness prep, and more! For a real mountain experience, JKL Trail Rides will help you to get away from it all.
Also in Olds (well, five kilometres outside of it) lies the Kaspian Equestrian Training Centre. They have horses for sale, training courses, and even horseback archery!
In Lacombe, The Flying Cross Ranch is an amazing animal experience open to all levels of skill and age (we mean it – whether you’re 4 or 84, they’ve got you)! If you’ve never been on a horse, or you’re trying to get back into riding as an adult, there’s a spot for you. With pony and horse rides or a petting zoo and barnyard activity stations, you’ll experience a day of fun and learning no matter what. It’s a true working farm, so there’s a porta-potty, hand washing stations, free parking, and a snack bar! If you’re worried about accessibility, give them a call and they can make it work!
What are you waiting for?! Grab your saddle or hiking pack and get out there!
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Trek Like A Local: Hiking & Horses Through Central Alberta’s Trails
Over 3200km of trails map Central Alberta’s landscape in both urban and rural municipalities. From the mountains to the grass sea, the region shines as the destination for hiking and horse riding.