Alberta offers the ATV rider just about every trail option possible. From massive sand dunes to grasslands and forests that transition to the rolling Rocky Mountain foothills, riders will not be disappointed by the riding available in all corners of the province. With so much terrain to cover and explore for not only ATV’s, but OHV drivers and dirt bike riders, it is hard to decide where to begin. To help you make the most of your recreation playtime, here is our 2021 Top Ten List of Alberta’s best ATV trails.
Castle Park Area – Southern Alberta
Stretching north from Waterton Lakes National Park to just south of Crowsnest Pass, this large backcountry area encompasses Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Park. Best explored from June to October, there are numerous trails throughout the area open to ATV’s, with the Carbondale area offering over 130 km (80 miles) of trails alone. Other highlights here include the Beaver Mines Lake Area, the 32 km (20 mile) Goat Creek Loop and the 29 km (18 mile) return South Drywood Creek Trail. There are numerous campsites scattered throughout this riding area, from primitive wilderness sites to fully developed campgrounds.
Dutch Creek Area – Southern Alberta
North of Coleman, riders can explore a network of trails that snake their way up to Elkford. The Dutch Creek Road offers 18 km (11 miles) of riding with numerous off shoot trails, the North Fork Trail has some challenging routes climbing up into the mountains and into the North Fork Pass while the Sugarloaf Fire Lookout Trail gains 990 metres (3,250 ft) over 8 km (5 miles) to the highest active viewpoint in Canada! The scenery is exceptional, the riding even better.
Grande Prairie – Northern Alberta
ATV riders in Grande Prairie have no shortage of riding options. It is a less than a ten minute drive from the community to the Wapiti River Valley Dunes. Here riders will find a mix of trails; sand, mud and wilderness plus large sand pits and muskeg mud pits, something for everyone. And its close enough to head into town for lunch and back out again! Just 40 km to the south, there are over 115 km (70 miles) of trails at the Big Mountain OHV Area. Roads and cutlines radiate out in every direction; north as far as the Wapiti River, east as far as the Smokey.
High Level – Northern Alberta
High Level offers a little something for everyone; forests, meadows, open plains, dunes, hills or a combination of all of the above! The area around the community is home to Crown land with plenty of cutlines, seismic lines and wagon trails to explore. One popular loop route makes its way southeast towards La Crête and the Machesis Lake Recreation Site before heading north and looping back to the community. To the northwest, Hutch Lake makes a great staging area to explore the myriad of routes up and around Watt Mountain.
Hinton – Central Alberta
There is some excellent ATV riding to be found around Hinton, typically by following Highway 40 south. Not only will riders find some spectacular scenery but they will encounter challenging terrain including seismic lines, old roads and designated ATV trails. Maintained by FRMA, the Gregg Cabin Recreation Area makes a good staging point to explore this large area, east and west of the highway between Hinton and Cadomin. Those looking to head north from town can follow Willow Road (W Road) to Polecat Road (P Road) and over to the Petite Lake campground. The campground makes a perfect staging area to explore the numerous routes and the lake holds stocked rainbow trout.
Lakeland Provincial Park – Northern Alberta
There are well over 140 km (87 miles) of shared trails offering some spectacular backcountry wilderness riding in Lakeland Provincial Park. Not all trails are open to ATV’s but there are enough to make this destination well worthwhile visiting. The Trans-Canada Pipeline Trail cuts across the park boundary and there are numerous staging areas. The Boundary Trail, Dabbs Lake Trails and Wishbone Trails provide some of the longer routes in this recreation area.
McLean Creek OHV Area – Southern Alberta
West of Calgary, this was the first area in Alberta set aside for motorized recreation. There are hundreds of kilometres of formal and informal trails with everything from easy cruising to hardcore mud-bogging. There are two staging areas, one at McLean Creek Recreation Site and another at the Fisher Creek Recreation Site. These offer access to the major trails including the 8.5 km (5.2 mile) Elbow Valley Trail, the Fisher Creek East and West Trails and the 22 km (14 miles) of trails that run up and around the five ridges at Mount Barwell.
Rocky Mountain House – Central Alberta
The Chambers Creek area, found about 30 km west of Rocky Mountain House, has become a hotbed of ATV activity. The trails can be a little rough and rutted due to heavy use and quite challenging when wet, adding to the fun. A recreation site just off Highway 11 provides a basecamp. Work is also underway for a 109 km route along an abandoned rail line between Rocky Mountain House and Nordegg and the Clearwater Forest, west of town, also offers some great riding opportunities.
Sundre – Southern Alberta
There are literally thousands of kilometres of trails for riders to explore west of the community of Sundre. The routes offer plenty of challenges to navigate from steep hills, loose shale, muskeg, mud and fast, wide-open trails. From Bearberry or the James Wilson or Deer Creek Recreation Areas, head into the Blue Hills area and tackle the numerous interlinked logging roads. South of the Red Deer River, riders can also check out the Fallen Timber North Trails with over 100 km (62 miles) of routes.
Whitecourt – Central Alberta
Known as the “Snowmobile Capital of Alberta”, the Whitecourt area continues to grow as a summer ATV destination in its own right. There are hundreds of kilometres of trails designated for off-highway vehicle (OHV) use with no less than 35 multi-use trails in the immediate area. Riders can head north on a loop to McLeod Lake or south to play on the trails in the Whitecourt Mountain Natural Area.
This is just a small taste of what is available to ATV riders throughout the province of Alberta. If you are looking to hit the trails, plan to pick up one of our Alberta Backroad Mapbooks, the Backroad GPS Maps and/or BRMB Maps web map and app to plan your next trip.