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Heritage Trail

The North Saskatchewan River and the Kootenay Plains

History and Amazing Views along the Kootenay Plains

by | Published on August 7, 2013 | Last updated on July 5, 2019

Based on a visit to the area on July 16, 2013

Heritage Trail takes you through the heart of the Kootenay Plains, pass the remnants of ranching in the early 1900’s along the North Saskatchewan River.
Leaving from the Siffleur Falls staging area, this easy 4 km loop is a quiet option with some of the best views of the North Saskatchewan River upstream of Abraham Lake.
Heritage Trail

The North Saskatchewan River

Heritage Trail

The North Saskatchewan River

A section of this trail crosses indigenous land leased to the Stoney Nakoda First Nation for religious purpose. Contact the Big Horn Band Administration for more information on accessing the land.

Plan Your Adventure

Trail conditions can change quickly. The map and directions below are based on our hike in the area on July 16, 2013.

  • Activity: Hike
  • Distance: 3.8 km return
  • Elevation Gain: ~55 m
  • Challenge Level: Easy
  • Family Friendly: Yes – no strollers
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Trail Conditions: Trail can be hard to see in section
  • Season: April to October
  • Congestion: Minimal (busy trailhead)
  • Alternate Descriptions: The David Thompson Highway – A Hiking Guide includes this hike.
  • Trailhead: Approximately 62 km west of Nordegg and 21 km east of the Banff National Park boundary. The trail starts at the Siffleur Falls Staging Area which provides ample parking space and dry washrooms.

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 Parks
  • Protection Status: Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve
  • Other Trail Uses: Horses / Mountain Biking
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes – on leash
  • Permits / Restrictions: Camping and fires are not permitted
  • 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 hiking adventure on the Kootenay Plains.

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 Heritage Trail.

Heritage Trail

  • 1.1 km | Barnes Ranch
  • 1.4 km | Dirt Road
  • 1.6 km | Tom Wilson’s Cabin
  • 1.9 km | North Saskatchewan River
  • 3.5 km | Siffleur Falls Trail
The trail starts from the northeast corner of the Siffleur Falls Staging Area where a large rock blocks the opening in the fence. The trail does not look like it has seen a lot of use recently but is still discernible through the field.
Heritage Trail

From there the trail is a pleasant walk through the open area along the highway. Keep an eye out for the mountain bluebird boxes installed by Ellis Bird Farm along the way.

The trail soon starts to veer from the highway, heading into a more forested area. While the trail may look faint in section, continue on the visible path until you reach a fence representing the edge of the Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve.

Heritage Trail
Heritage Trail
Heritage Trail
To your left shortly after crossing the fence is the site of the Barnes Ranch which operated from 1904 to 1909 on this site. All that is left of the site are the chimney from the cabin and the old horse corral.
Heritage Trail
Heritage Trail
Heritage Trail
From the horse corral, follow the main visible path heading east. Shortly you will come across a dirt road where you will turn right, heading toward a set of gates. This section of trail crosses land that is leased to the Stoney Nakoda First Nation for religious and ceremonial purposes.
Heritage Trail
As you emerge into the field ahead you will first come across Tom Wilson’s cabin on your left. The cabin was built in the early 1900’s as part of Tom Wilson’s ranch on a site now at the bottom of Abraham Lake. The government moved it to this site during the construction of the Bighorn Dam in the 1970’s. Unfortunately it has not been maintained.
Heritage Trail
Further in the field you will notice a cemetary and a memorial where lay the remains that were moved during the building of the dam.
Heritage Trail
Heritage Trail

From there head toward the end of the field where the trails becomes visible again. This is a great spot for a short break with amazing views of the North Saskatchewan River.

The trail then follow the river all the way back to the Siffleur Falls trail.

Heritage Trail
You will come across a few game trails along the way. Stick with the main trails that follow the river for the best views. The trail connects with the Siffleur Falls trail halfway between the suspension bridge and the staging area. Turn right when you reach the junction to head back to the parking lot.

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.