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Coral Creek Canyon

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 April 6, 2022

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.

The Map

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

Bridge on the Coral Creek Canyon trail
Take a right at the junction

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.

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.

Contributors to this Story:

Contributor

  • 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.

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 bear-proof garbage bins, keep a clean site and store your food in a bear-safe fashion.
  • Always be prepared when travelling outdoors.
  • This area has no to very limited cell phone reception. We recommend carrying an InReach or Zoleo on your adventures. A payphone is available at David Thompson Resort and across the highway 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.