What you need to know

riding_canterLevel of Experience

Our pack-trips are designed for the more adventuresome riders, as they involve riding between 20-30 km (5-7 hours) per day in some very rugged country. We’ve found that people with a good level of physical fitness, good health and a keen sense of adventure will learn quickly and can do well, but it helps if you are comfortable and balanced riding a trot and canter. Some rides, like the High Plains Drifter and Cattle Trail South require a higher standard of riding because we set a faster pace than is possible in the mountains. Our horses are trained western style (neck-reining), but most English trained riders adapt very quickly to this style of riding.

Please contact us if you are unsure about your skills.

groupsizeMinimum and Maximum Group Size

We consider 7 to be optimal group size for our back-country trips, but can handle groups as large as 10 if booked together. When people book individually or in couples we will limit bookings to 6-7 participants so that we can provide the desired personal and individualized service.

Minimum group size is 4 people for custom trips. If we accept a booking for a scheduled trek it means we will do that ride regardless of how few people book. Once your deposit is paid, it is safe to arrange your travel because the trip is assured.

Ian-WillAge and Weight Restrictions

The minimum age for pack trips is 8 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. We have had people in their 70’s on pack trips, 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 we 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. We are traveling in the wilderness, and medical services (beyond first aid) will not be readily available.

The maximum weight for riders is 220 lbs. Exceptions may be made for very experienced/athletic riders.

rugged-trailTrails and Terrain

All our trips are customized, using a network of over 300 km of trail that we have access to. Because we must consider a variety of factors in route planning, like bear activity, river conditions and snow depth in the high passes, we resist the temptation to publish a detailed schedule and trail description. After all, this is a back country-adventure you’re embarking on, not a bus trip! The amount of terrain and spectacular scenery you will experience depends largely on the length of trek you take. You will encounter forest trails, open alpine meadows, rugged and rocky trails, exposed passes and river crossings. The 7 and 10 day pack trips (Forgetmenot Ride and Kananaskis Longrider) afford more opportunity to get into the really high country, and we have found 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.

campfoodFood and Accommodation

On the trail we stay in simple but comfortable camps, their locations are well chosen within the given geography. We sleep in large wall tents, which are big enough for 6 people. Most camps have several tents so the group can split up if necessary. We always camp within easy walking distance of a clear stream or river where you can swim or wash yourself.

Each day we provide 3 freshly prepared meals, cooked over the open campfire. Ingredients include locally raised organic beef and pork, fresh vegetables and fruits, hearty breakfasts and delicious deserts. Special dietary needs can be accommodated, but we need to know these in advance.

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group-talkingGuides and Wranglers

Interesting and entertaining guides share their knowledge of the different areas we 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. Wranglers lead the packhorses with your gear into camp, usually on a different, easier and less scenic route than the one the group takes. We all share the same love and pride for this country and are delighted to pass it on to our guests.

Gear and Equipment provided

We provide you with:

  • Canvas wall tents, sleeping mattress and sleeping bag (warm enough for local climate) and a duffle bag
  • 3 hearty, delicious meals cooked over the open campfire
  • a surefooted and well trained horses that will suit your riding abilities, size and weight
  • comfortable western and endurance saddles with saddle bags
  • and an enthusiastic team that will do its best to provide you with an unforgettable adventure together with a handful of likeminded horse people.

For more information see the Kit list.

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Special Trips

Packtrips can be customized to suit the skills of groups, and expeditions combining riding with hiking and canoeing are also offered (see Saddle+Paddle).

Timing and Climate

Riding is fun all year round. Our main season for pack trips in the mountains is between June and September, the High Plains Drifter runs in May and the Cattle Trail Southin October. Please see our schedule for dates.

All year round we offer ranch-based riding vacations. Stay in our guesthouse, ride during the day and return to a warm bed and shower in the evening. Please inquire about a personal and customized “Ranch and Ride” packages.

The best time to come to Alberta is – ANYTIME! Our summers are usually sunny, dry and warm and are best experienced in July and August. September and October appear in vivid fall colours, often accompanied by warm and clear Indian Summer days. From November through February we enjoy snow covered winter landscapes, clear blue skies and temperatures between +15 and -30 degrees. In March and April the days are getting longer and the sun more powerful, though snow may come and go until mid May. By the middle of May the trees are normally beginning to leaf at the ranch and further east, but the mountains will wait a month before greening-up. June is the typical Mountain Spring month, with snow still covering the mountaintops above lush green pastures, abundant wildflowers and fast flowing rivers.

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Spring in the Rockies
aspen-trees
Fall with colouration of the aspen-trees