Coral Creek Canyon Snowshoe

Backcountry feels close to the highway

This snowshoe gives you a sense of wilderness and great views on an adventure that can be done in half a day.

Published on April 6, 2022 | Last updated on January 15, 2023

This hike takes you behind Mount Stelfox to a great viewpoint looking down into Coral Canyon and up the massive valley of Coral Creek.

With a large, easy trail to follow, this adventure takes you quickly into the backcountry giving you a feeling of remoteness. There are also impressive open views up the Cline River valley and towards Sentinel Mountain. This is one of the better options for snowshoeing in the area when there is snow.

Sentinel Mountain from the Coral Creek Canyon trail
Coral Creek Canyon

At a Glance

  • Distance: 7.5 km return
  • Elevation gain: ~190 m
  • Challenge Level: Moderate | Family Friendly
  • Trail type: There and back
  • Congestion: Minimal
  • Management: Kiska/Wilson & Job/Cline PLUZ
  • Other Trail Uses: Horses and OHV (trapline use only)

Trailhead: The trail starts at the Coral Creek White Goat Staging Area, approximately 48 km west of Nordegg and 42 km east of Saskatchewan River Crossing. Toilets are available at the trailhead.

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

Distances

  • 0.2 km | Stream crossing & summer trail
  • 2.0 km | Junction with lookout access
  • 2.8 km | Wood sign & canyon views
  • 3.7 km | Coral Creek valley viewpoint
  • 7.5 km | Trailhead

The Journey

From the trailhead parking lot, head toward the trail kiosk behind which you will find the well-defined path. This is an old mining exploration road from the 1960’s, so it is very wide and never too steep.

In the first section, you will cross 2 small bridges over small streams. At the end of the second one there is a small trail branching off to the left goes to the river. This trail is not a recommended way to access the Coral Creek Canyon in the winter. It runs dangerously close to the Cline Canyon and has lots of steep hills to climb; best left for summer. Stay on the main large trail and continue to climb up the hill. Follow the long, flat and straight section to a large junction. The main trail continues up to your right into the pine forest. The trail to the left goes to a lookout of Coral and Cline Canyon. It is a great side trip on the way back if you have the energy.

Bridge on the Coral Creek Canyon trail
Take a right at the junction
Walking through the forest
The sign as you approach Coral Creek
The views along Coral Creek
Coral Creek Canyon
The trail is usually well established

Continuing on the trail to the right, you will start to gently climb through the thick pine forest. After a kilometre you will reach another junction with a trail on your left and a wooden sign with directions for Coral Creek. Staying to the right, you will start to leave the forest behind and continue to climb along the top of the open banks of Coral Canyon. The views quickly open as you climb higher towards the main viewpoint to the north. Be careful with the exposed banks if there is lots of snow on them. They have the potential to slide and it is steep enough that if you started to fall down them, it would be hard to stop.

The views above the Coral Creek Canyon
The ridge overlooking the entrance to the canyon

Just before the main trail enters the forest, there is a junction with a trail that cuts across an open slope to the viewpoint. Traverse to an open ridge to the viewpoint that overlooks the canyon. Be extremely careful in this section with the snow and ice, the hillsides are very steep and a fall here could be fatal. If you are unsure about this section, turn around. Another option is to continue on the main trail a short distance into the forest where another viewpoint on the left makes for a great lunch spot.

The Return Trail

Retrace your footsteps back to your vehicle.

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:

Contributor

  • Brett Pawlyk & Annabelle Oung

    They have been exploring the Canadian Rockies and the world's mountain ranges for close to four decades combined. They manage HeLa Ventures, an outdoor education centre located between Rocky Mountain House and Nordegg. Brett also guides for Nordegg Adventures in the winter and Annabelle is a freelance translator. When they are not working you'll find them hiking and scrambling in the region with their daughter Tessa.