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BATUS Canyon

Ex Coelis and the North Saskatchewan River

A Short Hike with great views of the Kootenay plains

by | Published on July 26, 2016 | Last updated on July 5, 2019

Based on a visit to the area on July 20, 2016

This short hike brings you up for some great views of the Kootenay Plains and BATUS Canyon, an area that was once a popular training ground for the British Army Training Unit Suffield and nowadays with ice climbers throughout the winter.

The trail, similar to the one descrived in the David Thompson Highway – A Hiking Guide, takes you to a viewpoint overlooking the entrance of the canyon.

BATUS Canyon

BATUS Canyon

BATUS Canyon

Ex Coelis Mountain

The first section is well travelled thanks to ice climbers accessing the canyon during the winter months. The last section is an easy scramble to the viewpoint.

The canyon is 200 metres deep and was a popular training area for the British Army Training Unity Suffield (BATUS) between 1979 and 1992.

For years the soldiers spend time on a 3 weeks training course in the area, learning a variety of mountain skills. Nowadays they have moved their operations elsewhere but you will see encounter the Canadian Army training in the area from time to time.

Plan Your Adventure

Trail conditions can change quickly. The map and directions below are based on our hike in the area on July 20, 2016.

  • Activity: Hike
  • Distance: 2.6 km return
  • Elevation Gain: ~345 m
  • Challenge Level: Moderate
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Trail Type: There and back
  • Trail Conditions: Good
  • Season: April to October
  • Congestion: Minimal
  • Alternate Descriptions: The David Thompson Highway – A Hiking Guide includes a version of this hike.
  • Trailhead: Approximately 55 km west of Nordegg and 35 km east of Saskatchewan River Crossing on Highway 11. Look for a larger creek bed crossing the road between Cline River and Preacher’s Point with a dirt road on the lakeside of the highway.

Guided Tours

Enjoy the comfort that comes with a guide who knows the area’s trails, wildlife and terrain so that you can focus on your adventure, while the rest is taken care of.

  • Management: Alberta Environment
  • Protection Status: Kiska/Wilson PLUZ
  • Other Trail Uses: None
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes
  • Permits / Restrictions: None
  • Cell Reception: None

Head Out With A Guide

Make the most of your adventure and head out with a guide. Pursuit Adventures offers guided hikes from April to November. Get in touch with them to plan your custom adventure to BATUS Canyon.

Head Out On Your Own

Sometimes you just want to head out on your own to explore the area. We get it. Here’s the guide for the BATUS Canyon trail.

Viewpoint | 0.9 km

  • 0.6 km | Junction: Keep Right to Access the Viewpoint
  • 0.9 km | Viewpoint

Canyon Access | 0.6 km

  • 1.2 km | Junction: Keep Right to Access the Canyon
  • 1.5 km | Waterfalls in the Canyon

Return Trail | 1.1 km

  • Retrace your steps back to the trailhead

From the highway, follow the well established trail going up on the right side of the creek. The first section is an easy but steady climb and as you gain elevation the views of the Preacher’s Point area improve. The area across the river from where you are is the Survey Hill trail.

BATUS Canyon
BATUS Canyon
BATUS Canyon

The Viewpoint

At the junction, continue straight to access the viewpoint overlooking the canyon. The trail is less travelled from here and before long turns into a short scramble up an open slope. At the top, find your way to the end of the ridge on the left for the best views of the canyon.

BATUS Canyon Viewpoint
BATUS Canyon
BATUS Canyon
BATUS Canyon
BATUS Canyon

The Canyon

Make your way back down the slope and head back to the junction you passed on the way up. Take a right to follow the well established trail to access the canyon.

The trail makes its way down to the creek and from there head up toward the canyon until your reach the waterfall blocking the way.

BATUS Canyon
BATUS Canyon
BATUS Canyon

Outdoor Safety

  • For your safety and the protection of the area please follow trail signs, stay on the trail and respect all trail closures
  • Be respectful of wildlife and familiarize yourself with wildlife safety techniques including keeping your pet on a leash and keeping your group together.
  • Always use the bear proof garbage bin, keep a clean site and store your food in a bear safe fashion.
  • Always be prepared when travelling outdoors.
  • This area has no cell phone reception. We recommend carrying an InReach on your hikes. A pay phone is available near the trailhead at the highway pullout across from the Cavalcade Group Campground.
  • Information provided here may be inaccurate or outdated. Always make sure to obtain current information before going on your adventure.


There are inherent risks in outdoor activities. Although we strive to provide accurate information and to alert you of potential dangers, trail conditions may change quickly due to weather conditions and other factors. Using the information provided on this site is entirely at your own risk and Pursuit Adventures is in no ways liable for any injuries or other damages that may be sustained by anyone using the trails or information described on this site.

Have you been to this trail? Let us know about your adventure in the comments below.