- whitewater paddling
- ice climbing
Why Go? Midway between the towns of Banff and Jasper, Nordegg is the better-positioned and often-overlooked sister. It too sits amongst the Canadian Rockies with craggy peaks out the back door, a growing mountain bike trail network, a large mountain-lined lake nearby and the historic Saskatchewan River. But lesser-known, it attracts a fraction of the tourists. Plus, it’s a short drive to northern Banff National Park and all the world class hiking and mountaineering therein.
Play: At the junction of Highway 11 and 40, right on the Saskatchewan River, Nordegg is well-positioned for fun. Head south to Baseline Mountain, a decent hike but a great mountain bike trail network that’s played host to XC and DH races. North is Blackstone Provincial Recreation Area and the deep, though currently closed, Wapiabi Cave on Whitegoat Mountain. Head east to put-in on the Saskatchewan River for solid whitewater canoeing. But it’s west where things really get exciting. Upstream, the river is rougher. Then there’s Abraham Lake, one of the biggest waterbodies in Alberta—overlooking it are several scenic hikes. For a half-day, try Baldy Fire Lookout. The Buckle on Windy Point Ridge gets even higher. Both lead to huge views over the lake and surrounding sea of peaks. Keep heading west to enter Banff and Jasper national parks. Nordegg is the closest town to the Columbia Icefields, the famous highway-side glacier. One of the best ways to take it in is from a hike up Wilcox Pass. This is also a great ski-tour when the snow flies. But the area between Nordegg and the Icefields may be better-known for its ice climbing, especially the Weeping Wall, a massive curtain of ice right on the highway.
Stay: There are several campgrounds near Nordegg; Goldeye Lake’s forested sites might be the best. Just west of town, Sheiling Mountain Lodge, home to COE, a guiding company, offers a variety of accommodation options, beta for just about any nearby adventure and guiding to most of it, including its own via ferrata.
Eat: Best to bring your own; options are limited. The Miner’s Cafe boasts the tastiest baked goodies around and a cool small town atmosphere. Meals can be included with a stay at Sheiling Mountain Lodge.