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GreatWhiteNorth 10-19-2012 04:32 PM

AB Foothills route/campground suggestions?
As a flatlander (from Winterpeg) who likes heading west every summer to see the mountains, next summer I was thinking of maybe riding out to Edmonton and heading south thru the foothills, on as much good gravel as possible, camping along the way. Would like to start near Hinton or Edson and cut my way all the way down to Waterton at the border. I've got a KLR sidecar rig:

Got a buddy of mine that'll likely buy a dualsport too that may join me. Must be some pretty awesome scenery in them thar hills :evil

Must be some good threads with RRinfo/pics?

jasonmt 10-19-2012 07:56 PM

Forestry Trunk Road / 40 / 734 is your basic route from Hinton/Edson to Coleman. Lots of variations on route depending upon your fuel range etc. and for most of the road random camping is allowed.

GreatWhiteNorth 10-19-2012 08:22 PM

Thanks Jason. We did Hwy 40 thru Kananaskis last year - spectacular! Highwood pass was especially cool... we stuck to pavement... the gravel road down to Coleman looks pretty tempting. What's that like?

RED CAT 10-19-2012 08:26 PM

Can ride a Gold Wing down that gravel road 940. Nice ride all the way. Gets really twisty at the south end just before Coleman.

GreatWhiteNorth 10-19-2012 08:33 PM

Thnx Red Cat!
Perfect! Just what I needed to know. Such beautiful country!

jasonmt 10-19-2012 09:10 PM

In the last 3-4 years have only been on the portion South of the Calgary - Banff highway once, it is a nice cruise but we were doing 130+ on most of it except where traffic or common sense/fear prevented it as we had a bet that we could not do the Coleman - Canmore run via the FTR / 40 and the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail in under 2 hours.

Most of my bike experience on it is between Cadomin - Nordegg and South of the Red Deer river, I want to do the whole run (Coleman - ~Grande Prairie) on it in the next couple of years.

Be cautious as well when looking at Google Maps / Earth as it shows a few roads connecting the FTR / 40 to Highway 22 as being open that are actually gated, IE RR73A/TWP Road 302A shows as connecting up to the FTR / 40 South of the Red Deer River crossing on Google Maps but it is actually gated at the Stud Creek Road turn off and where it crosses over another creek about 3km away from the FTR / 40. You can easily get around the gate at the Stud Creek road side (and the area is open for motorcycles and quads etc.) but the gate is actually on a bridge on the other end and I do not think your side car rig is going to fit under the gate so the other option there is going through the creek and it can get pretty high. Pretty much point A to point B here:

The Alberta SRD website is going to be a good resource for you as well, you can get things like this there:

grumpybear 10-20-2012 08:17 AM

Sh 520
Had the opportunity to travel on secondary highway 520 from Claresholm to Highway 22 this fall. Nice views on the west end and you get to ride through the ranch lands in the foothills. About 10 kms of the road west of Claresholm is paved.
As I was riding through this area I noticed a side road called Skyline Road, which I didn't take due to commitments later in the day. Checking Google maps when I got home, I should have taken it. Its hows up as Township Road 111A &112A, off SH520.

As others have mentioned camping along the road, using the meadows or other opening in the forest is a very common practice. Not sure who is using the Forest Services campsites when there are many free sites along the way.

I driven the FTR a couple of times, I'm amazed by the diversity of the scenery from Edson south to Coleman.


GP640 10-20-2012 08:44 AM

If I may, be careful with Google Maps and even Google Earth.
There are inaccuracies such as roads that do not exist or do not connect.
Backroads Map Books are really good.

grumpybear 10-20-2012 09:31 AM

Google Inaccuracies
GP640, very good point on checking other sources for road information rather than relying solely on Google sources. Skyline Road does show up in the Backroad publications and there was big blue road direction sign ( I think it was blue) identifying the start and end of the loop. Not sure if it is a MD of Ranchlands sign or was some other gov't agency signage.


GreatWhiteNorth 10-20-2012 10:43 AM

Thnx guys
Living in MB, it might be a bit difficult to find & buy the backroad map book here, but I've got a buddy in Edmonchuck that can pick one up for me... wouldn't do the trip without it. Great tips/advice guys... keep 'em coming! Mucho appreciated. One question I'm almost reluctant to throw out there... any of you have any trouble with bears while camping in the foothills (understood taking proper steps to keep food stored away from the tent).

jasonmt 10-20-2012 11:15 AM

Close to the FTR and the areas I talked about being most familiar with above - I would not worry too much about bear problems as the road is really a resource super-highway in some parts. Farther off of the road, especially going West you are more likely to see bears (I have seen plenty) but I have never had a bear "issue" when camping out and about.

My experience when riding by myself is that it is uncommon for most smaller vehicles not to stop or honk their horns looking for a thumbs up if you are stopped on the side of or close to the road for a water / food / pee / bike check break.

GreatWhiteNorth 10-20-2012 11:53 AM

Good to hear!
I know the statistics are good, in that bear encounters are rare, but I'm always a bit worried (to the point I don't sleep well) if I camp in the Rockies away from a public campground. Saw a big cinnamon bear ambling along beside the road just south of Jasper on 1A in late July... the thing didn't even blink when we rode on by.

RED CAT 10-20-2012 12:06 PM

Get South Alberta Backroads by MAP ART. $4.50 pretty well any store in Alberta.

grumpybear 10-20-2012 02:27 PM

on the web
order the Backroad mapbooks on line at

Almost like looking through the Sears wish book,


NEDMAN 10-22-2012 02:00 PM

A really nice option would be to continue south from Coleman down the Flathead Valley. You can ride to the border but the crossing is closed and you have to head over to Yahk to cross. Amazng country and worth the trip IMO. South to Libby MT and across Logan's Pass from the southwest (Glacier NP is the USA side of Waterton Glacier International Park) to Waterton.

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