Riding the Great Divide
Riding in the mountains
The back-up wagons
Wagons by the lake
Sunset in the mountains
Driving by the lake
Playing music
Horse grazing in the Rockies
Bringing in the horses

Enjoy this horseback riding adventure deep into the Alberta Rockies, crossing alpine meadows, turquoise lakes and ancient glacial valleys. The riders will stay at two different camp sites with 3 nights in each over 7 riding days. Food, the camp and duffel bags are transported by two teams of draft horses and covered wagons. This leaves the horseback riders free to pick up the pace at a trot and canter where permitted by the terrain and high mountain passes. 

Discover the hidden horse trails high above the timberline, past tumbling mountain streams and through stands of virgin timber. This trail follows the Continental Divide between Alberta and British Columbia.
This equine adventure is suitable for adventurous riders who are comfortable riding on steep terrain and cantering out in the mountains. Horseback riders will need to be happy camping in remote areas. This is a chance to really get off the beaten track and explore a wild-life filled region of Canada with an excellent and experienced guide.

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from JL of Shipston on Stour on 22/09/2023

Ride Summary
This was a once in a lifetime trip and it was incredible. Top quality hosts, attention to detail, thoroughly happy and healthy horses, and the most spectacular scenery. Oh and an excellent menu!
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Dewy and his team of wranglers were extremely welcoming. They took the time to get to know you, understand your riding abilities and pair you up well with your horse. They double if not triple checked tack and horses as well as you to ensure good safety and plenty of fun were being had throughout. They knew a lot about the environment and scenery as we went by. Nothing seemed too much. The opportunity to stay at the ranch before and after the trip avoided any feeling of being rushed and they continued their excellent hospitality and care.
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
These horses were extremely fit, and confident with the terrain they were exploring. There were certainly some challenging slopes and they took them with confidence and skill. The western saddle was extremely comfortable and great attention was made to ensure the tack was in safe and working order by the wranglers.



Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
Please give more details to explain your response:
This is a very stimulating trail ride. You do need to have a confident seat, it is not about speed on this trip but ability to tackle the often very steep and often very long slopes up and down. The western saddle helps and the confidence of the horses also, but neither should be taken for granted and you do need to have confidence in your own ability to help the horses with this terrain. The scenery is absolutely spectacular, breaktaking, and at great height, on the edge of slopes at times. I echo all comments about anyone fearing heights, I felt well prepared and don't suffer so I was in my element!
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
I was told there would be opportunity to hike up to the lakes, and there is. You are able to take a decent pair of walking boots with you if your riding boots are not appropriate. You do need to climb up and down using chains, like rock climbing of sorts with one lake, it is absolutely worth it if you feel able to do this! Camping was all part of the adventure - the cots were very comfortable. The long drop toilet is a long drop toilet - you are camping, so go expecting this. The hosts really want you to relax on your holiday but you are naturally invited to help with camp chores, and help pack up tents on moving days. Again, all part of the adventure in my mind. The food was incredible, we never went hungry, it varied every day and it felt like an added luxury on such an adventure.
What could we do to improve this ride?
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
I believe this outfitting has a very strong group of horses and they will find one to suit you. There is undulating terrain to tackle, with some more extreme upward and downward climbs, as well as twisting through woodland and crossing streams. There are a few opportunities to lope but in general this is an enjoyable, technical ride, not a need for speed. A confident seat, with good balance, the ability to mount in the open and be confident riding in open spaces with lots of unpredictable wilderness, loose rubble, windy trees etc.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
Please give more details to explain your response:
Sarah and the team at Unicorn Trails continue to be excellent travel agents, big thank you again as always. They have great knowledge of the ride and if there is a question they do not know the answer to they will endeavour to find it out for you. They have spent energy in getting to know me, my riding ability and my travel/adventure dreams to help pair me up with my next trip of a lifetime.
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had such a great time! :)

Riders are advised to arrive in Calgary the day before as the ride starts early in the morning. We can help you book accommodation for the night before and/or after if required.

Day 1
The day begins gathering at the stables at 9:30 a.m. The hosts will transport the horses and gear to the Etherington trailhead, where the wagons will be loaded. Once everything is prepared, mount the horses andemabrk on the trail to camp. The group will ride up Etherington Creek to the Great Divide Trail, ascend over Baril Peak and descend to Baril Creek, to rendezvous with the wagon at the first campsite.

Day 2
After breakfast the riders saddle up the horses and head up to Baril Creek before descending over a canyon in British Columbia and circling around Mount Boulton before returning to camp. This day entails a long journey in the saddle through very rugged and deep terrain. Riding hrs: Approx 6.5

Day 3
Everyone helps with breaking camp and loading the wagons this morning, before saddling up and heading up over Fitzsimmons and Strawberry ridges. In the afternoon the trail drops down to the Highwood River, where the second camp has been set up.

Day 4
Today the group rides as far as they can up the mountain, tie-up the horses, and climb up to Carnarvon Lake on foot. For those who enjoy angling, this is an excellent finshing spot. One can also choose to hike over into British Columbia during the lunch break.

Day 5
Today, the riders venture into the high country overlooking Muir Creek, which they will cross before riding over the McPhail Creek. Lots of riding along high ridges and steep trails leading back to camp.

Day 6
Today the group heads for McPhail Creek and rides around the Hill of Flowers, through Bishop Pass to Lake of the Horns. Again, the horses are tied up, and riders can hike up to the lake for some incredible views from the top.

Day 7
The horses are tacked up and the wagons are packed by 10:30 am, ready to head to the trailhead. The wagons go on ahead while riders head down McPhail Creek and cross to the west side of the Highwood Mountain Range. Lunch is on top of Mt Baldy which offers excellent views of the entire Continental Divide range, the terrain that the group have spent the entire week riding. The journey ends at the Cat Creek trailhead where a van is waiting to take riders back to the ranch at around 4-5pm.

Riders can either spend an additional night in the area or transfer back to Calgary for onward travel.

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

The ranch has 75 horses available for trail riding and riders are guaranteed to find a suitable mount whether preferring a more lively ride or a quieter mount. The herd is made up of mainly quarter horses, appaloosas, paint and draft crosses. Many of them are homebred and all are used to the steep trails on this ride.

Expect between 4-6 hours in the saddle each day with a long break for lunch. The pace of each trail ride depends on the condition of the trail and the ability of the riders but generally there are areas where the group can trot and canter. This destination uses Western tack, this is very easy to get used to, even if riders have previously only ridden in English style. 

Riders will follow rocky, winding trails high up into the mountains while the wagons carrying the camp supplies follow paths through the valleys. The wagons are pulled by draught horses; teams of Percherons and Belgian Warmbloods, that freight the wagon-loads of supplies from camp to camp.

Please note that we recommend bringing your own hard hat as they are not available on site.

Rider requirements

This trail is for intermediate riders onwards. You should be comfortable and confident at all paces and able to control a responsive horse in open ground. You should be comfortable riding on steep terrain and happy to mount and dismount without assistance. Assistance is welcomed with care of the horses and setting up camp while on the trail, however it is not obligatory so if you would rather sit back and relax that is also fine.

Hats are recommended but not provided so please ensure to bring your own if you want to wear one.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 255 lb/116 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Riders are advised to arrive in Calgary the day before as the ride starts early in the morning. We can help book accommodation for the night before and/or after if required. 

Camping on all 6 nights. Tents are standard white canvas tents with a maximum of two people per tent. The camp includes a main mess tent for cooking and eating that is equipped with woodburning stoves. All camping equipment (including a mattress) is provided, excluding a sleeping bag which can be rented by arrangement if riders don't want to bring their own. This is basic camping. The cooks heat water every meal for handwashing and can heat extra if you want a basin bath although solar showers are also available. The entire camp and  luggage is transported by wagon to the next camp.

Meals are varied, generous and homemade:

Breakfast could be sausages, pancakes, peaches & cream on one day and eggs benedict, hash browns & fresh fruit the next. For lunch expect sandwiches with lots of different fillings alongside a sweet and some fruit. The main meal of each day is dinner which is traditional Canadian country fare such as baked ham, potatoes, corn, kale salad, carrot cake or tacos with all the trimmings followed by a chocolate cake.

Each day, on return to camp, riders can refuel with some after-ride snacks while waiting for dinner to be served.

Drinks available with each meal are coffee, tea, water, iced tea and lemonade. If riders would like any alcoholic beverages or canned soft drinks they will need to bring their own. The hosts can arrange a store trip prior to the ride to stock up if required.

Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling. Dependent on your country, Passport and Visa requirements can change from regularly depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada are expected to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa. To visit Canada, you will need to meet some basic requirements, such as: • Have a valid travel document, such as a passport • Be in good health • Have no criminal or immigration-related convictions • Convince an immigration officer that you have ties—such as a job, home, financial assets or family—that will take you back to your home country. • Convince an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your visit, and have enough money for your stay. (The amount of money you will need can vary. It depends on things such as how long you will stay, and whether you will stay in a hotel, or with friends or relatives). Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/canada In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Canada.html

Climate Summary

Alberta has a continental climate, with more sunshine than any other Canadian province. Winters are dry, sunny, and cold, though in the south the Chinook winds, which occur when warm, dry air of Pacific origin descends the eastern slopes of the Rockies, can raise temperatures by 40 °F (22 °C) in an hour or less.

Summers are warm and wetter (except in drought years), with occasional destructive hailstorms and tornadoes. Edmonton’s mean and extreme temperatures are 6 and −59 °F (−14 and −51 °C) in January and 60 and 95 °F (16 and 35 °C) in July.

Annual precipitation in Edmonton averages 18 inches (460 mm), compared with 12 inches (300 mm) in the dry southeast and more than 50 inches (1,270 mm) in the mountains. About half the precipitation falls from June to August.

Climate Chart


COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

The cost of medical treatment can be very expensive in Canada. For emergency health care you can go to a hospital’s emergency room or to a large number of walk-in clinics where an appointment is not required beforehand.

Giardiasis is present so do not drink water from streams. Tap water is safe to drink.

Rabies is endemic in Canada, do not approach stray dogs.

Lyme disease can be a risk in wooded regions; it is a rare tick borne disease.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Canada and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.


In Canada the supply voltage is 120V. If the appliance or its power supply are not dual voltage rated, the single voltage appliance will have to be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly (unless the appliance operates at 120V).

Mobile, WiFi and charging

There is no electricity available once out on the trail so we recommend a solar charger if you need to charge a mobile. Please note that mobile phone signal is extremely patchy in the mountains anyway. Wifi and electricity is only available at the ranch near the ranch office.

Packing List

It is possible to rent some equipment for an additional cost (payable on-site). Please let us know in advance if you wish to hire equipment:
Sleeping bags – $30
Chaps – $20
Raincoats – no charge

Packing List
Duffle bag for your gear – 40 lbs or less please
Warm sleeping bag & fleece liner
Pillow (optional, a pillow case filled with a fleece works nicely)
Fishing gear (optional)
Riding helmet (optional but strongly recommended)
Warm jacket
Rain gear or slicker (no ponchos, please)
Jeans/long pants for riding
Short and long sleeved shirts
Long underwear
Riding boots with a heel
Comfortable clothing/footwear for evenings in camp
Personal items including toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, towel
Rubber boots (optional)
Warm hat/toque
Insect repellant, sunscreen, lip balm
Sunglasses and a hat with a brim
Bring your own beer, wine, liquor and soft drinks


This is a 7 day / 6 night programme with 7 days of riding available on set dates between June and October.

Departure Dates

2024: 24 Jun; 15 Jul (FULL); 26 Aug; 9 Sep (FULL)

No single rooms available (on some or all nights). Riders must be prepared to share with someone of the same sex.
Recommended Reading

Icefields by Thomas Wharton.

This is a story of adventure and discovery that unfolds amidst the stunning beauty of the Canadian Rockies. Presented within the frame of a tourist guidebook, this novel records life in the mountains, as time and the coming of the railroad slowly transform the settlement of Jasper from a place of myth and legend to a modern tourist town. Exhaustively researched, this novel blends geology and poetry, fact and fiction, history and imagination.

Other Activities

Nearby there is golfing, mountain biking at Sandy McNabb Recreation Area, fishing, swimming, shopping and restaurants. The ranch is within a 1 – 2 hours drive from Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Remington-Alberta Carriage Museum, Glenbow Museum, Calgary Stampede, and many other attractions.


Blue grama and other grasses dominate the prairie area in the south, although cacti, tumbleweeds, and sagebrush are more conspicuous; few trees grow naturally outside river valleys. The transitional parklands have aspen-covered bluffs. The mixed and coniferous forests of the foothills and the north are home to various combinations of aspen, white spruce, jack and lodgepole pines, and balsam fir. Black spruce and tamarack grow over accumulations of organic peat in extensive bogs. Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir are important trees in the mountain forests. The wild rose, Alberta’s provincial flower, is widespread.

Meadowlarks and pronghorn are conspicuous on the prairies and badlands support rattlesnakes, horned lizards, and scorpions. White-tailed deer, beavers, and coyotes are familiar in parkland areas, while the great horned owl, the provincial bird, rears its young in vacated crows’ nests. The northern forests house a wealth of fur bearers and big game, including the moose, wapiti, caribou (reindeer), and black bear. Gray jays visit campsites, and loons are heard on the many lakes. Wapiti, mule deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and black and grizzly bears, together with Clark’s nutcrackers and golden eagles, are characteristic of the mountains. Rivers and lakes throughout the province support trout, whitefish, and pike. Ducks nest by every slough. Examples of most habitats and some threatened species receive partial protection in national and provincial parks, wilderness areas, and ecological reserves. The endangered peregrine falcon, however, flies among the high-rise buildings of Edmonton and Calgary.

Other Country Information

People migrating from Asia crossing the Bering Strait first settled the North American continent. They formed a number of tribes that can be distinguished by language: the Algonquian in the eastern sub-arctic and maritime areas spreading into the prairies and plains of the mid-west; the Iriquioian speaking tribes mostly in the St Lawrence Valley and around Lakes Ontario and Erie; the Salishan, Athabascan and other linguistic groups lived along the rivers and coastline of British Columbia. Small, isolated Inuit bands developed a unique culture in the harsh environment of the Arctic.

John Cabot, a Venetian working in the service of the English sailed to Newfoundland in 1497. This and later explorations formed the basis of the English claim to Canada. The Frenchman Jacques Cartier undertook a series of explorations, mainly along the route of the St Lawrence River during the 1530s and 1540s and he claimed the land for France.

It's the edginess between Canada's indigenous, French and British traditions that gives the nation its complex three-dimensional character. Add to this a constant infusion of US culture and a plethora of traditions brought by migrants, and you have a thriving multicultural society.

Canada is between 3.5 and 8 hours behind GMT depending on where you are in the country. They use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.

The international dialling code is +1.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
At the ranch, a 1h30 drive from Calgary Airport.
2024: (All transfers are subject to availability) Transfer from B&Bs in Black Diamond or Turner Valley included in the price. From Calgary Airport via taxi, payable on site (a list of recommended transfer providers available upon enquiry).
Flight Guide:
London to Calgary from £400 return
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