The wonders of ice and mountains
Preacher's Point, at the south end of the lake, is where the North Saskatchewan River enters Abraham Lake. It is the first place to freeze on the lake, making it a great option for early season adventures.
We can usually get on the ice to see the bubbles in this area by mid-November, some years as early as late October. That makes it a great early season option but also means that by mid-January the ice is usually cloudy without great bubbles.
It's a popular spot that can get busy. The area most people visit is fairly small, making it quite crowded at times.
This is where the North Saskatchewan River enters Abraham Lake. It has a different feel than the rest of the lake, with shallow water below the ice exposing grass under the ice bubbles. Located at the edge of the front range and main range of the Rockies on the Kootenay Plains, the mountains surrounding the area give a different backdrop than what you see on the main lake.
It's also a popular spot for sunrises from November to January when the sun bursts behind the peaks of Ex Coelis mountain.
At a Glance
- Activities: Ice walks, photography, sightseeing
- Time needed: Plan on at least 60 minutes
- Family-friendly: Yes
- Season: November to March
- Congestion: Moderate to Busy
- Management: Kiska / Wilson PLUZ
Trailhead: From Nordegg, Preacher’s Point is approximately 60 km away travelling west on Highway 11. Coming from Saskatchewan Crossing it is approximately 30 km east on Highway 11. Parking and dry toilets available.
We've put together a guide with a few things to consider when you plan your Abraham Lake ice walk to make it a safe adventure.
Head Out With A Guide
All tours and activities bookings are handled by Explore Nordegg & Abraham Lake and tours like these are offered by local partners. Most bookings require a minimum of 2 days' notice, contact us for last-minute options.
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.
Head Out On Your Own
Sometimes you just want to head out on your own to explore the area. We get it. Here’s our guide for the Abraham Lake ice bubbles at Preacher's Point. You'll find our guides to other ice bubble locations on Abraham Lake here.
Accessing the Ice
The lake can easily be accessed from the main parking area by walking down the rocky shore. The ice in the area to the right of the main access is typically on the ground by early December, making it a safer option for those who do not want to venture over water.
Keep in mind that the parking lot is not maintained in the winter. We've seen a lot of vehicles get stuck over the years with the nearest tow truck over 1.5 hours away.
Ice Bubbles and Ice Features
Preacher's Point offers something a little different than the big ice bubble stacks we see in areas like Abraham Slabs. The bubbles here are usually smaller but in larger quantities. The shallow water usually means we see grass and rocks at the bottom of the ice, giving us clear ice but without the turquoise colour we see elsewhere on the lake (except in the early season when the water level is higher).
Sunrise and Sunset
This is a great spot for sunrise. One of the most popular shots is of the sunburst behind Ex Coelis mountain, which happens from November to January. It's a great location to catch the morning alpenglow colours and often has great sunrise colours.
Sunset colours can be great here, as long as there are enough clouds in the sky to reflect them. On those days the ice lights up in oranges, reds, pinks and purples, accentuating the blue-green colour of the ice, as the area is filled with indirect light. Mount Ernest Ross and Sentinel Mountain are directly to the west, blocking the views of the actual sunset. That's why on days without sufficient clouds the light here tends to be flat in the late afternoon.
Safety and the North Saskatchewan River
Preacher's Point is where the North Saskatchewan River enters Abraham Lake. This does mean that there are a few more things you should consider about ice conditions before you head out.
The river channel has variable ice that can be eroded from below. Always check ice conditions as you go, since one area can be thick and just a few metres away you may not have enough ice to support you. The river does run under the ice throughout the winter which can make it harder to get out in the event that someone falls through. The area near the point is on the river channel. Some sections near the shore in that area can be open water throughout the winter.
Once the water level drops, the ice in this area is on the ground except for the river channel. This leads to great ice features but also to uneven grounds as you walk around on the ice.
Venturing Further Down the Lake
Accessing the area north of the point, between Preacher's Point and Peskett/BATUS Canyon, provides some great views of Elliott's Peak, turquoise ice and deeper stacks of bubbles.
It is a more challenging approach, however, and it should only be undertaken if you have a good understanding of ice safety and the area.
Through the Season
This area changes a lot, from the high water level of November to the ice features of December and cloudier ice later in the season.
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:
Conditions and Updates
We share this information to help visitors to the area plan their trip. This represents the conditions we have observed at a specific point in time. Ice safety depends on many more factors than just ice conditions and anybody going on the ice should have the knowledge and experience required to assess the risks, or should consider going with a guide.