Siffleur Benches

The Kootenay Plains

Amazing Views of The North Saskatchewan River Valley

by | Published on July 24, 2017 | Last updated on January 9, 2022

Based on a visit to the area on July 20, 2016 and July 17, 2017

The easy Siffleur Benches hike starts at a busy trailhead but quickly gets away from the crowds where you’ll enjoy amazing views of the North Saskatchewan River valley and the surrounding mountains.

This trail is sometimes referred by Alberta Parks as Survey Hill given the great vantage point that is your destination. This often leads to confusion given that there is a place called Survey Hill a little further down the trail.

The North Saskatchewan River Valley

The North Saskatchewan River Valley on a smoky day

The North Saskatchewan River Valley

The North Saskatchewan River

Take your time as you explore the area, stop to take in the views along the ridge overlooking the Siffleur River and enjoy what Mary Schaffer Warren referred to as the golden plains of the Saskatchewan.

Your adventure might start at one of the busiest trailhead in the area, a short drive away from the popular Icefields Parkway, but you’ll feel a world away as you explore the benches.

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 and July 17, 2017.

  • Activity: Hike
  • Distance: 6.9 km return
  • Elevation Gain: ~145 m
  • Challenge Level: Easy
  • Family Friendly: Yes – no strollers
  • Trail Type: Partial loop
  • Trail Conditions: Good
  • Season: April to October
  • Congestion: Minimal (busy trailhead)
  • Alternate Descriptions: None
  • 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
  • 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 the Siffleur Benches trail.

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 Siffleur Benches trail.

  • 0.6 km | Suspension Bridge
  • 1.2 km | Glacier Trail
  • 1.8 km | Siffleur River
  • 1.9 km | Junction
  • 2.2 km | Junction
  • 2.4 km | Junction
  • 2.6 km | Junction
  • 3.2 km | Junction
  • 3.3 km | Junction
  • 3.8 km | Viewpoint
  • 4.3 km | Junction
  • 4.4 km | Junction
  • 5.0 km | Junction
  • 5.1 km | Siffleur River
  • 5.7 km | Junction
  • 6.3 km | Suspension Bridge
  • 6.9 km | Trailhead
Suspension bridge over the North Saskatchewan River

From the trailhead, follow the well established trail to Siffleur Falls. The first section takes you through a meadow with great views of Mount Peskett before reaching the suspension bridge over the North Saskatchewan River. This is Alberta’s longest suspension bridge.

On the other side of the bridge follow the boardwalk through the fragile ecosystem and make your way to Glacier Trail. Follow the old road toward Siffleur Falls, going straight at the junction at the end of the boardwalk. After crossing the Siffleur River you come to a 3 way junction. Go straight following the old road. At first the trail is overgrown with silverberry bushes but soon it opens back up as you start to make your way up the hill.

Walking the boardwalk
Overgrown section on Glacier Trail
Making our way up to the benches above

Part way up the hill there is a small trail to the left. This is a shortcut but you are better off continuing straight ahead on the main trail. As the trail levels off there is an obvious trail to the left, just before a sign for the Adpot-A-Trail program. Follow this trail as it makes it’s way along the edge of the benches overlooking the Siffleur River. At the next junction on a hill, head to the right up the hill. At the top, take the trail on the left to access the viewpoint.

Follow the trail along the edge of the benches
Great views along the Siffleur River
The trail is well used in this area
Tuff Puff Ridge, Two O'Clock Ridge and Mount Ernest Ross

The viewpoint is an open area overlooking the valley below and at the top of the rills and gullies you can see from the trailhead. Take some time to enjoy the view before making your way back to the trailhead.

The open area makes for a great lunch spot
Rills, gullies and the North Saskatchewan River Valley
Looking toward Mount Ernest Ross

Make your way back on the trail until you reach the junction on the hill. At this point, go straight to make your way down to the Siffleur River and follow the trail back to the 3 way junction near the bridge over the Siffleur River. Retrace your steps from there back to the trailhead.

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.