Riding in the mountains
Riding the Great Divide
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
One of the cabins
A double room for Day 1
a twin room

Ride into the Alberta Rockies on horseback, crossing alpine meadows, turquoise lakes and ancient glacial valleys. This is an 8-day trip where you will venture deep into the mountains and stay at two different camp sites. Food, camp and duffel bags are transported by two teams of draft horses and covered wagons. This leaves the riders free to pick up the pace at a trot and canter in between the steep terrain over high mountain passes. Discover the hidden trails that take you 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 is a trail for adventurous riders who are confident at all paces and comfortable riding on steep terrain. You'll 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 experieced 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 LH of New York on 30/08/2019

Ride Summary
What a great experience!
What was your overall impression of the holiday

Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Other(please specify)     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Riding tour leader
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Horsemanship     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Pacing of Ride     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern for Safety     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern with Environment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments
Steep hills and beautiful views! Excellent for rides who are comfortable in challenging terrain. The main guide Dewy and all the wranglers were very professional, took good care of horses and riders, and made the whole camping experience comfortable.
Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments
Surefooted horses that had good manners and were nice to ride even on the steep mountain hills.
Meals
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Hygiene standards     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Miscellaneous
Transfer arrangements     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other ride staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
It can get cold even in July, especially at night, so make sure to have warm clothes.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:

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?
8
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Hills are very steep, but the horses are extremely surefooted so as long as the rider is comfortable in hills it’s not too challenging. Pace is mostly walk due to the terrain, with opportunity for canters on some days.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:

May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments:

Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Day 1
Arrive in Calgary in the afternoon and transfer to the ranch (about one and a half hours drive from Calgary Airport). Relax and meet your fellow guests and hosts over dinner before settling in for the night in your cosy log cabin.

Day 2
Everyone meets at the stables at 9:30 a.m. Your hosts will truck the horses and gear to the Etherington trailhead, where you will find the wagons are loaded before you mount your horse and set off on the trail to camp. You will ride up Etherington Creek to the Great Divide Trail, up over Baril Peak and down to Baril Creek, to meet the wagon at the first campsite.

Day 3
After breakfast you'll saddle up the horses and head up to Baril Creek, dropping over a canyon in British Columbia, around Mount Boulton, and then riding back to camp. This is a longer day in the saddle (approximately 6 ½ hours of riding), and very rugged and steep terrain is negotiated.

Day 4
This morning, everyone helps with breaking camp and loading the wagons before saddling up and heading up over Fitzsimmons and Strawberry ridges. You'll spend the afternoon dropping down into the Highwood River, where the second camp has been set up.

Day 5
You'll ride as far as we can up the mountain, tie up the horses, and climb up to Carnarvon Lake on foot. It’s a great day for fishing, if you choose to do that, or to hike over into British Columbia during the lunch break.

Day 6
Today you'll go into the high country overlooking Muir Creek. You'll cross Muir Creek before riding over the McPhail Creek. Lots of riding along high ridges and steep trails leading back to camp.

Day 7
You'll head up McPhail Creek, ride around the Hill of Flowers, through Bishop Pass to Lake of the Horns. Again, the horses are tied up, and you can hike up to the lake for some incredible views from the top!

Day 8
The horses are ready and the wagons are packed by 10:30 a.m, ready to head to the trailhead. The wagons go on ahead to the trailhead, and the riders head down McPhail Creek, and cross to the west side of the Highwood Mountain Range. Lunch is on top of Baldy, where you can look to the west at the entire Continental Divide range, where you've spent the entire week riding. You'll end the trip at the Cat Creek trailhead, where a van is waiting to take you back to the ranch. You'll arrive back around 4-5pm. Guests can either book in to spend an additional night at the ranch 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

This ranch has 75 horses available for trail riding so you are guaranteed to find a suitable mount wether you prefer 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 are used to the steep trails on this ride. You'll be riding for between 4-6 hours each day with a long break for lunch in between the morning and afternoon rides. 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 you have previousy only ridden in engligh tack. 

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 wagonloads of supplies from camp to camp. Please note that we recommend bringing your own hard hat if you wish to wear one as the ranch does not supply them.


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.

Weight Limit

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

Your first night will be spent at the ranch in twin or double rooms in traditional log cabins. These cabins are warm and comfortable with bedroom, kitchen, and living area complete with wood-burning stove. There are no single supplements charged on this trail. You are welcome to share a cabin/tent or have one to yourself, whichever you prefer.



For nights 2-7 you'll be camping out on the trail. Tents are standard white canvas tents with a maximum of two people per tent,a mattrass is provided. As well as the tents, the camp will include a main mess tent for cooking and eating which will be equipped with woodburning stoves. All camping equipment is provided excluding a sleeping bag, although these are available to rent if you don't want to bring your 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 your luggage is transported by wagon each day to the next camp. 



Meals are varied, generous and homemade.

Breakfast could be sausages, pancakes, peaches & cream one day and eggs benedict, hash browns & fresh fruit the next. For lunch you can 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 when you ride into camp you'll be able to refuel with some after ride snacks:such as tortilla chips & salsa, fresh fruit, cheese, crackers & oysters, shrimp & cocktail sauce, vegetable tray or a mixed fruit tray & dip while you wait for dinner to be served.



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


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info


Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request. General information: All travellers are required to provide details online 72 hours prior to travel.

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.)

Citizens of a few countries may also need a:
• medical exam and
• letter of invitation from someone who lives in Canada.

For further information please visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp

The Canadian High Commission in the U.K is at Macdonald House, 1 Grosvenor Square, London W1K 4AB. Telephone: (020) 7258 6600. Email: ldn@dfait-maeci.gc.ca.

The British Consulate in Canada is at 80 Elgin Street, Ottawa, K1P 5K7. Telephone: + (1) (613) 237 1530. Email: generalenquiries@BritaininCanada.org.

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

Health

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. Check with your doctor for details but apart from general precautions against tick bites no prophylaxis is usually required.

For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org and the Deprtment of Health also gives medical advice on their web site at www.dh.gov.uk

Electricity

The voltage is 110-120V, 60Hz in Canada as in the USA and you will need a flat blade plug and possibly an adaptor depending on the appliance.

Film and Camera Equipment

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. When staying in the log cabins on Day 1 there is electricity available for charging camera and batteries. Wifi is only available at the ranch near the ranch office and not in the rooms. Each cabin is equipped with hairdryers for guests use.

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 – $15

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)
Towel
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
Sweater/sweatshirt
Riding boots with a heel
Comfortable clothing/footwear for evenings in camp
Personal items including toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, towel
Camera
Flashlight
Rubber boots (optional)
Gloves
Warm hat/toque
Insect repellant, sunscreen, lip balm
Sunglasses and a hat with a brim
Bring your own beer, wine, liquor and soft drinks

Programmes

This is a 7 night/8 day programme with 7 days of riding available on set dates between June and October.

Departure Dates

2019: 16 June; 14 July and 25 August.
2020: 16 June; 12 July; 9 August; 6 September

Pricing
No single rooms available (on some or all nights). Riders must be prepared to share with someone of the same sex.
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n7double pp1,805
2020 - 7 nights8d/7n7double pp1,805
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n7double pp1,985
2020 - 7 nights8d/7n7double pp2,039
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n7double pp2,265
2020 - 7 nights8d/7n7double pp2,355
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n7double pp22,259
2020 - 7 nights8d/7n7double pp22,259
Additional Night Pricing
  No of days/nights Product item description £
2019 - Additional night D, B & Bper nightdouble pp129
  No of days/nights Product item description
2019 - Additional night D, B & Bper nightdouble pp145
  No of days/nights Product item description $
2019 - Additional night D, B & Bper nightdouble pp159
  No of days/nights Product item description SEK
2019 - Additional night D, B & Bper nightdouble pp1,579
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.

Wildlife

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.
Transfer:
2019: C$180 per car one way from Calgary Airport payable on site.
Flight Guide:
London to Calgary from £406 return
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