Cline River Canyon Trail Guide

A short hike with big rewards

A great option for a short hike along Abraham Lake, taking you close to the edge of the Cline River Canyon and to dramatic views along the way.

Published on September 29, 2016 | Last updated on October 31, 2022

This trail is similar to the first section of the Coral and Cline Canyons hike (you’ll see the trail across the canyon on many occasions) with the option of reaching the bottom of the canyon in an area popular in the winter with ice climbers.

This makes for a great family hike but keep in mind that this is an unofficial trail without any railing or guards along the edge of the canyon.

The Cline River has gone by many names over the years. A.P. Coleman, the geologist and explorer, named it the Cataract River in 1893. Mary Schaffer refers to it by that name in her book when she made the journey from Pinto Lake to the Kootenay Plains in 1907.

It was later called the Whitegoat River before getting its current name from Michel Klyne, the Hudson Bay Company postmaster for Jasper House from 1824 to 1834.

Whitegoat Falls
Whitegoat Falls

At a Glance

  • Distance: 3.3 km return
  • Elevation gain: ~115 m
  • Challenge Level: Easy
  • Trail type: Partial Loop
  • Congestion: Moderate
  • Management: Kiska / Wilson PLUZ
  • Other Trail Uses: None

Trailhead: The Pinto Lake Recreation Trail Staging Area is a short distance south west of the Cline River bridge, approximately 48 km west of Nordegg and 41 east of Saskatchewan River Crossing on Highway 11.

We all have our part to do to keep this place special. Planning ahead is key to ensuring that we all continue to enjoy adventures in the Nordegg & Abraham Lake region. These are a few of the things you can do to help:

  • Minimize your impact by using existing sites, fire rings and toilets instead of creating your own.
  • Know about current fire bans, make sure that your fire is completely out before you go and buy firewood instead of cutting down trees. Remember that shooting fireworks is not allowed in the region.
  • Keep your site clean and your food stored inside your vehicle to help keep our wildlife wild. Always use bear-proof garbage bins.
  • While alcohol is now permitted in some Alberta Parks day-use areas, none of those are in our region. Alcohol is only allowed at registered campsites.
  • Be mindful of your neighbours and other visitors, including keeping noise to a minimum.
  • Be prepared for adventures in a remote area. Explore within your skills to reduce the strain on our volunteer search and rescue team.
  • Remember that cell service is limited. We recommend carrying a satellite communicator, like a Zoleo, on your adventures.
  • Support local businesses and communities in Cline River, the Bighorn and Nordegg.

Information provided here may be inaccurate or outdated. Always make sure to obtain current information before going on your adventure.

The trail guide

The Access

  • 0.1 km | Random campsite
  • 0.5 km | Junction – keep left
  • 0.9 km | Junction – keep right
  • 1.1 km | Junction – keep left
  • 1.2 km | Viewpoint – keep left
  • 1.4 km | Junction – river access along the creek
  • 1.6 km | Cline River

The Return

  • 0.2 km | Junction – keep left to retrace your steps
  • 0.4 km | Viewpoint – go straight along the canyon
  • 0.7 km | Great view of the Cline River
  • 0.8 km | River access at the end of the canyon
  • 1.2 km | Junction – keep left
  • 1.7 km | Trailhead

The Access Trail

Follow the old road heading up the edge of the gravel pit, ignore a footpath on the left at the top of the hill (this trail connects with the Pinto Lake Recreation Trail) and walk through a random campsite, staying on the well defined path.

The trail is broad and takes you into the forest. The next junction at 0.5 km is the trail you will be on when you come back. Continue straight ahead.

The trail to Whitegoat Falls
The trail to Whitegoat Falls
The trail to Whitegoat Falls

This section of trail is pleasant but without any great views. Soon you come upon a short hill with a trail merging from the left. Continue on the main trail to the right. From here the trail gets narrower and more interesting.

Crossing a couple of sometimes muddy section you get great views of Abraham Lake in the distance.

The trail to Whitegoat Falls
The trail to Whitegoat Falls
The trail to Whitegoat Falls

At 1.1 km a shortcut on the right heads directly to a narrow section of the canyon where you may come across groups crossing on a Tyrolean traverse. Continue on the trail to the left for now as you are only a short distance away from the viewpoint.

The views as you come across a 90-degree bend in the river are great on their own and would make for a great lunch spot. If you don’t mind a short but steep section along a small stream, continue on to make your way to the bottom of the canyon.

The trail to Whitegoat Falls
The trail to Whitegoat Falls

Going left from the viewpoint follow the trail to a gully and follow the path along the mostly dry stream bed down to the river. This section of the canyon, often referred to as the Clive River Galleria, is a popular ice climbing destination. Throughout the winter this is an easy snowshoe walk and in the spring you can see ice left on the walls well after the snow has melted.

The Return Trail

Retrace your footsteps back up to the viewpoint. From there, follow the trail straight ahead along the canyon. The trail makes its way down where the rivers comes out of the canyon, making another 90-degree change of course. This spot makes another great viewpoint and access to the river.

The trail soon heads uphill and away from the river. The junction at the top is the one from earlier, keep left to make your way back to the trailhead.

The trail to Whitegoat Falls
The trail to Whitegoat Falls

The People

All the stories we share are by locals, whether they live here or love our region and contribute to making it an amazing place.

Contributors to this Story:


  • JP Fortin

    JP is the Owner + CEO at Nordegg Adventures where he oversees the development of new adventures, guide training, strategic planning, marketing and destination development partnerships.