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Places To Ride

These are rides that I personally have done. Please feel free to e-mail descriptions and pictures of any you want to share, and include your name so we can give you due credit! To send an e-mail, click here.

Drumheller: East Coulee
Degree of difficulty: starts easy, many km of nice dirt (not gravel) road, optional medium-easy cow trail sections.

From Drumheller, head east on Hwy 10 toward East Coulee. About 20 km along, on your right side you will see a large sign saying Hoodoo Recreation Area. Take the turnoff into that area, go all the way to the end and then follow the dirt road as it turns right (north).

It doesn't look like much to begin with, but it gets pleasantly narrower and rougher as you go along. Reminds me of pictures I've seen of Mexico. And it does go on and on and on into the valley. I'm frankly amazed that it goes through so many fenced areas, but the gates are all open (Texas gates) and you are free to pass through freely. At the top, continue west all the way to the fence, then turn left (south) which will lead you to a canyon that leads down to the road again. Beware, part way along are littel ravines that can swallow a wheel. This is a good place to have a little folding shovel along so you can dig out, or do a little bridge-building before you fall in.

Degree of difficulty: Easy at start, some harder inclines, optional difficult trail sections.

The two-lane blacktop from Rosedale to Wayne is just a fabulous ride, a favorite of Harley guys as they head up to the funky old Rosedeer Hotel at Wayne. But just past where they turn right into the hotel access road, you turn left onto a dirt road and follow it up into the hills. It leads up to a great lookout over the highway.

In the picture at right, you can just see the hotel way down there.

Head back down a little bit and look to your 2 o'clock for a trail leading around a hill and down to a closed-off road. It's a steep incline down, but there's a good runout area at the bottom, so you can let 'er go. Walk it first if you're not sure; always a good policy anyway.

For the heavier bikes, you can get on to the same closed-off road by going past the initial turnoff from the highway about 100 m, and on your right you'll see the guardrails blocking the entrance. You can squeeze past; there's little trail. A word of caution: there is a BIG pothole not far along from those guardrails. Washouts like that are probably why the road is closed in the first place. It is big and deep enough to swallow a bike easily - watch for it.

About half way along this closed road, just a nice easy relaxing ride, you'll see some trails heading off to your right into the valley. These looked hard enough to me that I didn't care to tackle them with Dunlop K750 tires. With a lighter bike, a more skilled rider and/or knobbier tires, they might be a lot of fun. Looks like the locals ride MX bikes there.

But I did walk them just to scope things out, and down in the creek bottom there are some old mine workings to look at. It also looks like you could ride an old road bed back to the highway, but again, watch for those monster potholes. I am not kidding about the size and depth. They might never find you if you fell in.

Drumheller Hoodoos
Degree of difficulty:easy to very difficult, depending on the route you choose. Watch for broken glass from drinking parties!

This is just pure White Trash Recreational Paradise: wide open land, lots of trails and hills and knobs and jumps. Just pick a route and go for as long as you have gas. And when you run out, you're only about 10 minutes from a gas station.

Getting there: as you come into Drumheller on Hwy. 9, turn into the parking lot of the first tourist traps you come to (Reptile World - which is actually a really good show, check it out). Go right and past the building, over the curbstones and you're in the dirt. Just go wherever. By heading generally northeast, you eventually come out onto Hwy 10 by the billboard that advises you to "Call Before You Dig". Looks like you could camp there, although if it rains you will be in the greasiest, slickest, vehicle-swallowing clay mud you'll ever regret seeing.

Highway 532 - Living Stone
Degree of difficulty: road sections easy, just go slow on the loose gravel.
Optional dirt trail sections easy to difficult, depending what you pick.

In myy former career as a surveyor, I saw a lot of Alberta, and I feel this obscure little pass is among the most stunning scenery to be found here. Better yet, few people ever use this road. You may have trouble keeping going just because you (and you passenger) will want to stop and look at things.

From Calgary, head west on 22X, then south on 22, past Turner Valley and Black Diamond. At HW 532, (marked with a big green sign), turn right (west) and enjoy the ride.

Note: you can also get here from Nanton, a nice ride too, but not as nice. Just south of the big Esso at the south end of Nanton, take 533 west, then jog a bit at Hwy 22 (Cowboy Trail) to 532.

Near the crest of this pass, at the only place with a guard rail, there's a great view (pictured at right). You can see about 200 miles over the hills and on to the prairie. Looking east and south, you'll also see a large number of dirt trails heading off to wherever. Ride wherever you want. North of the road is the tightly-controlled Kananaskis Country; south of the road is a designated off-highway vehicle area. Go nuts, and don't get lost.
If you continue along 532, eventually you come to the Forestry Trunk Road (940), a good gravel road. You can head north, which takes you Highwood House (gas and food) pavement, Longview and home.

Or head south a bit to Living Stone Falls. There is a good campground there. If you stop at Living Stone, you will soon see why it is called that. Huge sheets of "living stone" angle out of the ground, and the Oldman River (a creek at this point) trickles over them. An inspiring place. Your passenger will probably love it.

Incidentally there are many other campgrounds along 940 all the way south to Lundbreck. Also any number of other places you could camp wherever you feel like it. Mind the bears, though.

For a link to another article about this ride, click here.

Ironstone (Hillcrest to Lundbreck)
Degree of difficulty: VERY DIFFICULT, not recommended for a heavy DualSport with dual purpose tires. Many steep sections with loose rock surfaces, and tight trails through trees

View of the back side of Turtle Mountain - the mountain where the front side slipped off in 1912 resulting in the Frank Slide disaster.

Only 2 weeks after getting my KLR 650, I went for a ride I saw in a Kawasaki Canada DualSport series brochure. Phoned first, and the leader was a bit doubtful about whether a KLR 650 could make it, but I was enthusiastic so they let me come along.

Turned out I was the only streetable bike there, and the only one to ride to the event. Everyone else was on true knobby-tired enduro bikes, MXers and quads that had been trailered there.

Very nice and encouraging bunch of guys, though (the Over the Bars Club from Lethbridge) so off I went with them, mirrors, Dunlop K750s and all. Crashed heavily on the first uphill as the bike and inexperienced rider fought to keep a line in fist-sized rocks. On my riding buddys' advice, I took off the mirrors when the trail got narrow. Should have thought of that earlier!

Crashed heavily on a steep downhill with more fist-sized boulders - the bike had NO traction at all, and was just skidding out of control down the trail, and me too scared to give it power to regain control.

On the final downhill section, I was too freaked to ride it, and tried to bulldog it down walking beside. Now I am in decent shape, 10K runner and all, but was too tired to even continue. One of the guys (thanks Brian!) offered to switch, and I rode his XR350. At the end, I just felt relieved to have survived it. Also I didn't have good boots yet, and riding in cowboy boots, my toes were so jammed into the pointy ends by the heavy downhilling that they were bruised and painful for a week after. (Soon after that, I invested in a pair of MX boots (Thors) which are a huge improvement in many ways.)

The other guys continued on a second, even harder loop which featuured a crashed airliner, but I went back on the road into Lundbreck, and later met them at the start for the post-event meal and prizes. On that hard loop, one of their members rolled his quad and had to be taken to hospital.

Great bunch of guys, and they always slowed down to my pace and helped me out. But for the purposes of this site, that's not DualSport, that's a trail ride.

I do however plan to go back there in the summer of 2003 and tackle some of the sections with grippier (but still dual purpose) tires, fork brace and improved riding skills.