On this 4-day horseback riding adventure through Canada's oldest national park, guests will journey amidst fragrant pines, along the banks of the River Bow, and through snow-crested mountains.   The trail follows historical routes used by the early explorers, such as the Erling Strom Trail, a path forged through the dense Banff forests by renowned explorer Erling Strom in the early 1900s. This equine adventure is ideal for all levels of rider but you will need a good stomach for heights as you may reach 8,100 feet!

While exploring the expanses of Banff, riders enjoy lodge accommodation, and is a more comfortable option than the Cascade Valley Pack Trip.  The lodges have a rustic appearance which adds to the charm of these buildings and minimizes their intrusion on the surrounding nature. They are remote and without any internet or cell service but a few touches of home comforts, such as solar heated showers provide a more luxurious experience for those not so keen on ‘roughing it’. The lodges offer a chance to relax and find peaceful quiet while enjoying gourmet cuisine, freshly made by professional chefs. Pack horses carry your belongs from one lodge to another. 

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Day 1     
The journey begins at 9:30am at the stables. Things happen on “Western Time” so the departure may not be immediate, allowing time to get to know the horse and ask any questions before leaving. The horses are steady, responsive and can be counted on to cross any terrain, from forest paths to boulder-strewn creeks. 
Once saddled up and ready to ride, the 10-mile journey to Sundance Lodge will commence. The route follows a trail blazed by the early explorers of the Canadian Rockies nearly a century ago, alongside the rushing glacier-fed waters of the Bow River, Healy Creek and Brewster Creek. There will be a stop along the way for a simple, hearty cowboy-style hot lunch on the banks of the river.
Arrival at Sundance Lodge late afternoon, where the lodge host will provide a warm welcome. Sundance is the ideal place for  marveling at the beauty of the Banff backcountry, while enjoying a comfortable stay.

Day 2  
After a hearty breakfast, the ride follows the historical Erling Strom Trail. As the sun creeps above the rugged Sundance mountain range to the east, the group follow in the footsteps of the early explorers of the Rocky Mountains. Enjoy a picnic lunch in an open mountain meadow where the plants start to indicate the change in altitude before continuing higher up through the trees in the afternoon. On approaching the Halfway lodge, the vegetation starts to thin and emerge into a picture-postcard scene with the lodge nestled in a striking cauldron of mountains. With propane lanterns, candles and a woodstove for warmth, this lodge is brimming with rustic charm and completes the mountain retreat feel.

Day 3
After waking up in comfort and enjoying a hearty breakfast at Halfway Lodge, the trail awaits. The guide will lead through the backcountry on a scenic and exciting trail, criss-crossing the valley in the historic footsteps of the early pioneers and stopping for lunch along the way. The meandering trail along Brewster Creek will lead back to Sundance Lodge, where another night of relaxation in pure backcountry comfort awaits.

Day 4    
After another delicious breakfast, breathe the crisp, pine scented air while departing Sundance Lodge for one more day on the trail. The guide will lead through the backcountry along winding river trails and through the thick pine forests, with the jagged peaks of the Rockies always standing proudly on the horizon. There will be a stop along the banks of Healy Creek for a lunch of fresh sandwiches, baked goods and fruit.
The gentle 9 mile ride from Sundance will lead back to the stables, arriving at around 4:30pm. Though leaving the backcountry, the memories made will stay for a long time.

The establishment is located in a remote backcountry area. Due to the unique location, the kitchen operates with limited resources. We are unable to accommodate requests beyond our set menus.
Menu Options for our Backcountry Trips include: Backcountry Deluxe Menu, Vegetarian Menu, Vegan Menu (additional cost), Gluten Free Menu (additional cost)  / Menu Options for our Cowboy Cookout include a standard Menu and a vegetarian Menu

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

There are about 300 horses and mules available for trail riding, and as pack horses, with a large variety of sizes, breeds and temperaments within the herd, and there is something suitable for any level of rider. The riding is all done at a walk and the terrain can be steep or rocky in places. On occasion, riders may need to dismount and lead their horse for short periods.


Rider requirements

No previous experience is necessary for this ride, the guides are happy to teach beginners the basics that they will need on the tour. The riding is all done at a walk and the horses are well trained. A good level of general fitness is required and riders should have an adventurous nature.
The minimum age for this ride is 9 years, and the maximum weight is 230lbs (104kg). These restrictions are strictly adhered to for the safety of the horses and all riders, guests may be asked to provide proof of age for children and be weighed before being allowed to ride.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 229 lb/104 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

On this 4 day trail you will be staying in two different lodges. 

Sundance Lodge: The first and last nights of your trip will be spent in this warm and cozy lodge on the edge of the mountain range. It is a modern upgrade of the original Ten-Mile Cabin that was built in the 1920s. Secluded and rustic, it is also warm and cosy with solar power and a wood-burning stove. Hot showers and electricity are available here, and the large professional kitchen allows the excellent chefs to offer a fully catered rotating seasonal menu for guests. There is a porch where you can sit out and watch for wildlife and a social area with comfortable chairs by the fireplace perfect for reading a book or swapping stories. The shared bathroom facilities are inside and there are 10 rooms available.

Halfway Lodge: The middle night of the trip will be spent at this lodge set at the base of the Allenby Pass. It was built in the 1920s for trail riders on their way to Mount Assiniboine. This a more basic lodge than Sundance but charming in it’s own way. Propane lanterns and candles provide the lighting while a woodstove provides the heat and keeps the coffee warm. There is a cosy kitchen, dining and living areas inside, and two shared outhouses (outdoor basic toilet facilities) and an outdoor shower on site. There are 4 bedrooms that have space for up to 4 people each.

Meals are cooked on-site by professional chefs with expertise in backcountry cooking. Breakfast and dinner will be served in the common dining areas each day, while lunches will be packed in saddlebags and taken on the rides. A traditional cowboy cook-out takes place on the first day which is usually a juicy AAA Alberta steak paired with home-made baked beans, baked potatoes and other fixings. Dinners at the lodges are more sophisticated than you might expect out in the wilderness with everything from braised beef short ribs to plump Cornish game hen matched with a side of fluffy mashed potatoes to crème brulee cheesecake.

Camps and lodges are licensed and offer a small selection of wine and beer.

Our establishment is located in a remote backcountry area. Due to our unique location, our kitchen operates with limited resources. We are unable to accommodate requests beyond our set menus.

Menu Options for our Backcountry Trips include: Backcountry Deluxe Menu, Vegetarian Menu, Vegan Menu (additional cost), Gluten Free Menu (additional cost)  / Menu Options for our Cowboy Cookout include a standard Menu and a vegetarian Menu


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

Summer is generally 15-30 Celsius each day with cooler mountain mornings. It is warmest in July and August. The climate here is generally dry. Stunning autumn colours are best seen in September.

Climate Chart

Health

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.

Electricity

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

One lodge has solar power while the other has no electricity so please bring spare batteries or a powerpack for charging equipment. If you want to bring a GoPro please be advised that you will have to have permission from all other guests and guides that they are willing to be filmed.

Packing List

A warm coat — Essential to ward off chilly nights or a windy day. Also bring a heavy sweater (wool is a great insulator) or fleece jacket.
Rain gear — A rain coat and waterproof trousers, and if possible, coverings for your boots and hat. Please DO NOT bring rain ponchos, they flap in the wind and can scare the horses. If you have one, we recommend a slicker. There is a limited supply of full-length slickers (traditional cowboy rain coat) available. These are available for pick up upon check in based on a first come first served basis. Clothing that is easily layered works the best. You can always remove what you don’t need, but you still have it just in case. Also, bring your most comfortable gear — this is not the time to break-in new boots or a new hat.
Shirts – long sleeve and t-shirts to your preference.
Jeans – a cowboy classic. Jodhpurs are also acceptable. Also important is a pair of long underwear for chilly nights.
Riding boots — A boot with a heel that can easily slip in and out of stirrups. Alternatives would be a narrow style of hiking boot or solid sneaker. For safety reasons, clunky hiking boots are not recommended. Water (rain) resistant boots are recommended.
Sneakers — or an extra pair of shoes for wearing around camp, an extra pair of DRY socks is also recommended.
Toiletries — facecloth, biodegradable shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, disposable razors, etc. Toilet paper and hand soap are provided at the lodges.
Hat — A cowboy hat offers the most protection from the elements. Baseball caps or canvas-type hats are also fine. Please ensure that your hat fits snug or ties on and will not blow off in the wind. Chin straps are recommended. If you prefer to wear a riding helmet, there is a selection available upon check in on a first come first served basis.
Gloves — Lined leather or suede gloves provide protection from the elements and a sure grip on the reins (bring two pairs just in case one gets wet).
Scarf — A silk or cotton scarf is recommended for extra warmth.
Sunscreen
Sunglasses
Mosquito repellent.
Your camera – extra batteries.
Torch — Remember to check your batteries!
Cellular phones do not work in the areas you’ll be riding in so leave them somewhere safe. If you will be using the camera on your phone, please note there is no charging station in the backcountry.
Water bottle – for refreshment while you are riding. You will be able to refill your water bottle at each camp.
Saddlebags – You are welcome to bring your own; saddlebags are available at check in. Please fill them with only those essential items that you would need during the day, such as lip balm, your camera, sunscreen, etc. We reserve the right to limit the amount of gear in the saddlebags for weight. Daypacks, backpacks or other bags are NOT allowed — they are hard on your back and hard on the horse’s back, and do not tie properly to the saddle.
Cash – you may want to bring some cash to purchase drinks or leave a gratuity for your cooks. You can also use credit cards to purchase liquor.

Programmes

This is a 4 day/3 night stay starting on Wednesdays.
Shorter stays are also available: 2 days/1 night starting on Saturdays;3 days/2 nights starting on Mondays

Departure Dates

2024: 26 June (Full); 3, 10 (Full), 17 (Full), 24*, 31 (Full) July ; 7, 14, 28 August (Full); 4, 11 Sep (Full) (*Date still available)

Departures every Wed between 25th Jun and 10 Sept.
2025: 25 June; 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 July; 6, 13, 20, 27 August; 3, 10 September

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20244d/3n4double pp1,455
20244d/3n4single supplement205
20244d/3n4Discount for sharing triple room-47
20254d/3n4double pp1,785
20254d/3n4single supplement699
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20244d/3n4double pp1,695
20244d/3n4single supplement235
20244d/3n4Discount for sharing triple room-55
20254d/3n4double pp2,075
20254d/3n4single supplement815
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
20244d/3n4double pp1,915
20244d/3n4single supplement269
20244d/3n4Discount for sharing triple room-62
20254d/3n4double pp2,345
20254d/3n4single supplement919
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20244d/3n4double pp20,275
20244d/3n4single supplement2,825
20244d/3n4Discount for sharing triple room-659
20254d/3n4double pp24,845
20254d/3n4single supplement9,765
Other Activities

Banff is an excellent location for outdoor activities. Some available options are:
Hiking
Cycling
Rock Climbing
White Water Rafting
Hot Springs
Helicopter Rides
Sight-seeing tours
Lake Cruise
Carriage Rides
Ice Hockey
Cave Tours

Wildlife

The Rocky Mountains are home to an array of mammals and birds. Most commonly seen are elk, bighorn sheep and deer, less frequently spotted are bear, mountain goats, coyotes, wolves and moose and rarer still are lynx, mountain lions (cougars) and wolverine. The birds that are often spotted are Clark’s Nutcrackers, Stellar Jays, ravens, falcons and white-tailed ptarmigan. orcupine, marmots, pika, pine martens, rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks are some of the smaller wildlife you might come across in various terrains of the mountain parks.

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 stables just outside Banff
Transfer:
Transfers from the airport can be arranged through Banff Airporter or through us. From C$118 per person return. (subject to change)
Flight Guide:
London to Calgary from £520
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