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Cline River Canyon

A family hike along the Cline River Canyon

A short hike with big rewards along Abraham Lake

by | Published on September 29, 2016 | Last updated on July 5, 2019

Based on a visit to the area on September 4, 2016

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.

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.

Cline River Canyon

Walking up the canyon

Cline River Canyon

The Cline River Canyon

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.

Plan Your Adventure

Trail conditions can change quickly. The map and directions below are based on our hike in the area on September 4, 2016.

  • Activity: Hike
  • Distance: 3.3 km return
  • Elevation Gain: ~115 m
  • Challenge Level: Easy
  • Family Friendly: Yes - no strollers
  • Trail Type: Partial Loop
  • Trail Conditions: Good unofficial trail
  • Season: April to October
  • Congestion: Minimal
  • Alternate Descriptions: David Thompson Highway Hiking Guide includes a version of this hike without access to the river.
  • 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.

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: Horses
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes
  • Permits / Restrictions: None
  • Cell Reception: Limited

Head Out With A Guide

Make the most of your adventure and head out with a guide. Pursuit Adventures offers half day guided hikes to Cline River Canyon from April to November. Book below or check out the full itinerary.

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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 Cline River Canyon trail.

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 taking 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.

Cline River Canyon
Cline River Canyon
Cline River Canyon

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.

Cline River Canyon
Cline River Canyon
Cline River Canyon

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.

Cline River Canyon
Cline River Canyon

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 the 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.

Cline River Canyon
Cline River Canyon

Outdoor Safety

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 very limited cell phone reception. We recommend carrying an InReach on your hikes. A pay phone is available at David Thompson Resort.
  • 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.