The fall is arguably the most beautiful time of year in Alberta, with the Aspen trees turning golden yellow and the mountains getting their first dusting of snow, the scenery is spectacular! Unlike the wilderness equine pack trip vacation , this ride provides comfortable accommodation to come home to at the end of a days horseback riding.  At the beginning of the week riders will be paired with a horse partner to match their skill set, but there is the chance to try different horses throughout the stay ifor those who like variety.

The guesthouse at the ranch is known as “The Barn”, and reflects the atmosphere of the foothills with a cozy space to relax and enjoy cup of coffee while watching the horses play in the meadows.  All meals use as many local ingredients as possible, some even picked from the ranch's own garden.  Breakfast and Dinner are served in the guesthouse, while lunches are held on the trail as a picnic in a new beautiful location each day. With snow-capped mountains standing majestically in the background and gorgeous Aspen forests shining golden yellow, riders will feel like they have stepped into a photograph.

This is the perfect horseback riding vacation for those who appreciate great riding and home comforts.

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Day 1
Guests are picked up from Calgary International Airport (YYC) around 4:00 in the afternoon. It is about a 1-hour drive to the ranch.  After check-in there is a meet & greet and dinner at the guest house.

Day 2
After breakfast, riders will be introduced the horses and be allocated a mount based on experience and size. After grooming and tacking, get comfortable in the arena first before heading out on the first ride to Whiskey Ridge with gorgeous larch pines and their yellow needles. They are the only deciduous coniferous trees in existence. Settle into the Barn and share stories over a delicious meal. 

Day 3
After breakfast, head out on a four-hour ride to the foothills west of Bragg Creek. This is followed by some time to tour and shop in the hamlet of Bragg Creek before returning home for supper.

Day 4
Today, embark on the North Fork ride - a 23 km loop southwest of the ranch offering some stunning views of the Rockies. This ride leads through the gorgeous Aspen forests, stunning in late September.

Day 5
After breakfast, load up and trailer the horses a bit further into the mountains to explore the upper Elbow Valley. There are more evergreens in this area. Pass beneath 3000m mountains and splash through the icy waters of the River Elbow. The route will depend on how hard everyone wants to ride - and there are many trails to choose from.

Day 6
Saving the best till last, today's route passes over Powderface Ridge as a culmination of the week. From the 2100m high summit, riders will enjoy sweeping views of over a hundred kilometers to the east, and almost as far to the north and south, this really is the highlight of the week!  Back at the ranch to enjoy one last cozy evening. 

Day 7
After breakfast, head back to the airport.  Departure is normally scheduled for 9:30am, and arrival at the airport (or other Calgary location) by 10:30am.

Please note transfers for arrivals from Calgary Airport leave at 4pm. Departure transfers arrive at Calgary Airport at 11am. Please book your flights accordingly.

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 horses are chosen and maintained for working in the mountains and local climate, they are all sensible, hard-working and uncomplicated. Ranging from 14hh - 16.1hh, The horses are all used to Western style riding, but some respond to English aids as well. The pace of the ride is mostly at the walk, but there is some trotting or cantering when trail conditions are suitable



The terrain covered is often rugged and steep on undeveloped wilderness tracks. It is sometimes necessary to dismount and walk with the horses. Riding is guided at all times by an English-speaking guide and usually starts at 10am and finishes around 5pm with several short breaks and a longer lunch break. The guides are extremely knowledge of the country and its hazards and will err on the side of caution if there is a question of threatening weather, wildlife, or other natural hazard, so the trip itinerary may be altered if it deemed wise to do so by the senior guide.



These trips use a network of over 300 km of trail that the hosts have access to. Because they must consider a variety of factors in route planning, like bear activity, river conditions and snow depth in the high passes, they resist publishing a detailed schedule and trail descriptions, but riders will encounter forest trails, open alpine meadows, rugged and rocky trails, exposed passes, and river crossings. Experience has proved that after 2 or 3 days most people's riding and outdoor skills really begin to improve, and the team, guests and staff mesh together.  


Rider requirements

Riders must be comfortable at a walk, trot and canter. There are occasions when riders may be required to dismount and lead horses through difficult sections. For mountain rides, riding skills are less essential than a sense of adventure and general fitness. Typical days are between 4 and 8 hours (including an hour for breaks and lunch), and will cover 15-32 kms. On all trips guests are expected to participate by grooming and saddling their horses.

Minimum and Maximum Group Size
The ride considers 8 to be optimal group size.

Minimum group size is 4 people for custom trips.

Age and Weight Restrictions
The minimum riding age is 10 years old. Anyone under 15 should be a regular and enthusiastic rider, have a keen sense of adventure, and must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. They have had people in their 70's on these rides, but again, they were fit, in good health and rode regularly prior to their holiday. We ask that you judge yourself (and your children) honestly in this regard, as the ride will take your word for it and plan the trip accordingly.

For all age groups: It is important that you feel fit and healthy before going on the trail. You are travelling in the wilderness, and medical services (beyond first aid) will not be readily available.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 220 lb/100 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

At the Ranch, which is lovingly called “The Barn”, enjoy the fall scenery of the foothills and experience western hospitality. Set on 522 acres in the foothills, the ranch is a beautiful place to enjoy the true colours of fall in the Rockies. The lodge is a TV-free space and has limited cell phone reception. They offer free Wifi (Satellite) and a landline for local calls (Calgary area).



All meals utilise local ingredients as much as possible and are proud to feature products from local businesses such as the coffee, which is roasted in Bragg Creek. The menu changes daily and offers local dishes, but also includes internationally inspired cuisine.  Breakfast and Dinner are served in the guesthouse, while lunches are held on the trail as a picnic.



Dietary needs can be accommodated, please give specifications prior arrival.. Please note that we do not serve alcohol, but guests are welcome to bring their own favourite beverages.


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

Typical summer temperatures (June-August) range from 18-25 C during the day, to near or even a degree or two below freezing at night. Snow has fallen in every month in the mountains so one must be prepared for all possibilities. Sleeping bags rated to -5 degrees are provided should guests prefer not to bring their own. Most precipitation normally comes in short but intense thunderstorms. Periods of several weeks without any rain are also common, particularly in the later summer. An unusually hot day would be 32 degrees. Humidity is quite low. Best time for autumn colours is mid-September to early October.

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.

Health (ride specific)

This is a wilderness trip in a remote area from which evacuation may take up to 6 or 8 hours. It is not recommended for anyone whose health is compromised in any life-threatening way.

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

Mobile phones do not work in the riding area. Internet access is not available either. Electricity is available back at the ranch. 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

What do wear during the day:
• brimmed hat, riding helmet or ball cap. If you are used to wearing a helmet at home please don’t
stop now! You can bring your own helmet or borrow one from the ranch. The cowboy hat is a very
useful piece of gear to protect your face and neck from the sun, rain and low branches. It does not,
however, protect your head if you fall.
• trousers suitable for riding (jeans or breeches, whichever you prefer)
• chaps: half chaps are recommended if you choose to wear breeches. Otherwise chaps are handy
but not necessary to bring
• boots: choose boots or shoes you are comfortable in. You will be wearing these shoes all day,
walking and riding. Light hiking boots are often a better choice than fancy western boots.
Boots should be water-repellent, at least ankle high and have a small heel. Some people like to bring
light weight camp shoes or sandals to wear around the camp site.
• long sleeve shirt: We recommend that over a short sleeve as you can roll up the sleeves when it is
warm and down when in the shade or dense forest to avoid scratching your forearms.
• pocket knife (to cut lunch items and maybe some string)
• bandana - this is an optional item. We find a bandana handy as it serves many purposes: protection
of your neck from sun burning, cooling you off when dipped in a mountain stream or simply
tie something together when needed.
You will also be provided with a set of saddle bags to tie behind the saddle of your horse. Part of the
saddlebags will be needed to pack “group” provisions such as lunch items or part of the horse first aid kit.
The remaining volume can be packed with items you may need during the day:
• sun cream: you are starting at an elevation of 1350m (4400 ft) and are getting up to well above
2200 m (7000 ft). The sun is very strong at this altitude. Please be sure to protect your skin
from burning.
• camera: whether it’s a DSLR, pocket camera or smart phone - bring a camera! The scenery is
stunning!
• gloves: can come in handy for riding, picking up a hot pot from the fire and other activities.
• rain gear: the “slicker” will be tied behind you saddle so it is with you during the day. The weather
in the mountains can change rapidly so you must be prepared all the time. If you do not have
suitable rain gear you can rent oilskin slickers for C$5 per day.
You can leave any luggage you don’t need at the ranch while you are in the back-country.

Clothing should be comfortable and well-tested. A broad-rimmed hat is useful, although again the centre has some hard hats that can be borrowed. The high altitude and low humidity mean sun cream will be necessary in the summer months for fair skins, but biting insects are rarely a problem.

Programmes

7 days / 6 nights / 5 riding days

Departure Dates

2024: 29 September - 5 October (FULL)
2025: 27 Sep - 3 Oct (Provisionally Full)

Pricing

Single lodge room if available: C$50/night surcharge, payable on site.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20247d/6n5double pp2,135
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20247d/6n5double pp2,485
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
20247d/6n5double pp2,805
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20247d/6n5double pp29,745
Wildlife

All major charismatic species native to the Rockies can be found in this area, including Grizzly and Black bear, Cougars, Wolves, Coyotes, Moose, Elk, Bighorn sheep, Mule and Whitetail deer, and wild horses. The rides begin in the foothills ecosystem and move progressively into subalpine and alpine regions. This allows guests to immerse themselves in and learn about the different ecologies present at different elevations. It should be noted that while many species of large mammals are present in the region through which we ride, some are very elusive and are unlikely to be seen, even when close. For example, there have been occasions of no grizzly sightings during trips, and cougars are usually seen once every few years, although this area has one of the highest densities in north America. Given their general preference to avoid humans and the huge area with good cover in which they can roam, this shouldn’t be a surprise.

In general, none of these animals mean trouble to us as we travel in groups on horseback.

Other Information

Guides and Wranglers
Interesting and entertaining guides share their knowledge of the different areas you will visit. You can learn about horsemanship, back-country navigation, survival skills and living in nature. Depending on the group size you will have one or two backcountry guides with you at all times.

Gear and Equipment provided

You will be provided with:
* * 3 hearty, delicious meals. Breakfast and dinner served at the ranch and a picnic style lunch out on the trail.
* A surefooted and well trained horses that will suit your riding abilities, size and weight
* Comfortable western and endurance saddles with saddle bags
* An enthusiastic team that will do its best to provide you with an unforgettable adventure together with a handful of likeminded horse people.

Located within an hour’s drive of both Banff and Calgary, the Bragg Creek region offers the rare combination of nearby urban conveniences with ready access to an enormous wilderness region. Brokeback Mountain was filmed here, as were a number of westerns like The Unforgiven.

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):
Calgary Airport (YYC)
Transfer:
Included from Calgary airport or town at around 4pm. Approximate transfer time is 1 hour. Return transfer arrives to the airport approx. 11am.
Flight Guide:
London - Calgary return from £750 pp return. Please see "getting there" for flight information.
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