Exploring around Hinton: Beaver Boardwalk and Ogre Canyon

On day 8 of the trip, Wednesday September 16, my son and I drove from Hinton to Edmonton to pick Cathy up at the airport at 12:30, then on Thursday the 3 of us explored the Hinton area, the highlight being a long hike to remote and spectacular Ogre Canyon.

The day started off lovely at the campground, but a few miles east in Hinton it was foggy, and the fog stayed with us for a couple of hours en route to Edmonton.

Spectacular morning at the Hinton/Jasper KOA campground

The drive to Edmonton and back isn’t very interesting, to say the least, but it’s a good way to have a few hours to talk. And we took Steve’s new Xterra so he could try it out 🙂

I didn’t take any photos until we were halfway back to Hinton, but on the way back saw a train that required a shot…

Railway trestle across Albeta Highway 16
… a railway trestle across the Pembina River…

Railway trestle across the Pembina River
…and a particularly impressive thunder head.

Just before 2:00, Steve suggested that we take a long detour off into the back country to the south of Highway 16, through an old coal mining area. You never need to ask me twice about detours like that! Goodbye, freeway 🙂

Alberta Highway 16 east of Edson
And hello country road. A freshly-paved country road with panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains – that’s more like it!

While the area we went through used to be all about coal mining, recreation, logging, and oil and gas have all been added to the list of reasons people go there. We took a tour of the tiny and unique community of Robb, then headed north towards Hinton. I seldom get the chance to be a passenger in a vehicle, with the photographic freedom that sometimes gives – there’s no other way to get shots like this.

Logging truck near Robb, Alberta
Steve knows this area like the back of his hand, and a short side road took us to this wonderful view.

Rocky Mountain view north of Robb, Alberta
We went down to one of Steve and his wife Rachel’s favourite fishing spots (though they never catch any fish 🙂 ), the McLeod River. The rugged campground there is beautiful.

McLeod River south of Hinton, Alberta
We got back to Hinton just in time to pick my grandson up from daycare. At 17 months old, Brock already loves dogs (he has 2), and took a particular liking to Monty. Leah, at 12 years old, played hard with Bella, and showed her some new moves like play-bowing. Watching that learning process was really neat – Bella trying a tentative bow, and I could just hear her thinking “like this?” and then doing more when Leah responded.

Toddler grandson with big dogs
Brock also really likes books, and Grandpa is certainly happy to share that joy with him. Being a 30-hour drive from all of my grand-children does suck.

Murray reading a book to his grandson
My boys getting started on a big project 🙂

Father and son with a toy workbench
That view from our campsite would be pretty hard to get bored with.

View from the Hinton/Jasper KOA campground
Bella checking out a husky backpack that I brought for Brock. I bought 3 of them in Alaska a dozen years ago – 2 went to my twin granddaughters, and this one had been in storage since, apparently awaiting Brock’s arrival.

Husky puppy with a husky backpack
The view of the Rockies from downtown Hinton is spectacular, and there’s a lot to do, both in town and nearby. I certainly never got bored during the 11 days that I house-and-dog-sat for Steve and Rachel last March.

Hinton, Alberta
The Beaver Boardwalk is one of the attractions that the community is most proud of, with good reason. It’s a great way to start or end a day, in particular, and was the first thing that I wanted to show Cathy.

Beaver Boardwalk in Hinton, Alberta
Three kilometers of boardwalk and trail wander around through wetlands and a living, fully functioning beaver pond, and interpretive signs help visitors understand what they’re seeing, and what’s not being seen.

Beaver Boardwalk in Hinton, Alberta
The observation tower gives a good view of the beaver lodge.

Beaver Boardwalk in Hinton, Alberta
At about noon, we headed north on Highway 40, then west on the Brule Road, where the views of the Rockies and the Athabasca River quickly get incredible. The first photo below is actually from a short side road, shot as an HDR.

View of the Rockies and the Athabasca River from the Brule Road, Alberta

View of the Rockies from the Brule Road, Alberta
At 1:00, we came to a cul-de-sac with a cattle gate that no doubt would have been where I turned around if Steve hadn’t been our guide. The road to Ogre Canyon is through 3 of those gates, on a road that a 4×4 is always recommended for, especially when it’s wet as it was for us.

The road to Ogre Canyon, Alberta
The views along the road are stunning. Past the second cattle gate, we came to a sign stating that we were entering Rock Lake – Solomon Creek Wildland Provincial Park – that was sure a surprise!

The road to Ogre Canyon, Alberta
We drove through many puddles, some fairly large and deep, but about 3 km from the first gate, we came to one that I just didn’t trust, so we decided to walk from there. A small band of horses guarded the road just past that – very gentle horses, it turned out.

Horse on the road to Ogre Canyon, Alberta
I’m quite certain that that’s a fresh cougar track. Spidey senses on!

Cougar track on the road to Ogre Canyon, Alberta
There were many road-covering puddles to navigate.

Mud puddle on the road to Ogre Canyon, Alberta
Our first view of Ogre Canyon, at 2:20, about 5 minutes along a trail that leads from the end of the road.

Ogre Canyon, Alberta
From this spot where huge boulders blocked further access up the creek, a very steep trail goes up the left bank. Cathy decided to wait there while Steve and I had a look.

Ogre Canyon, Alberta
Steve can be seen at the lower centre of the photo. He stopped there and I caught up. From that point, a steep granite block (the one to his right) has to be climbed, and we had to do that barefoot to get the grip we needed.

Ogre Canyon, Alberta
Quite incredible. The canyon at this point is apparently over 70 meters deep (230 feet).

Ogre Canyon, Alberta
A closer look at the waterfall.

Ogre Canyon, Alberta
The ogre of Ogre Canyon. Even when it’s spelled out like that for me, I just don’t see him. Cool name anyway, as it certainly looks like ogres could live there 🙂

The ogre of Ogre Canyon, Alberta
Smaller waterfalls add to the interest.

Ogre Canyon, Alberta
We waded up the creek for 30 meters or so (100 feet), but then got stopped by impassable rock. This was the view looking straight up from the point we got to. No photo or words can do justice to that sight – powerful, awesome, a spiritual experience…

Ogre Canyon, Alberta
Coming out of the canyon. I wanted to stay longer – much longer – but we had made plans to have a barbecue at the RV park, and Rachel was going to drop by on her lunch break, so we had to go.

Ogre Canyon, Alberta

Once back in Hinton, Steve picked Brock up from daycare while Cathy and I went shopping, and we had a wonderful family evening in the RV. This visit had turned out to be precisely the sort of reason that we had bought the RV. There’s never enough time, though. The next visit will be longer – more time with the family, and more time at Ogre Canyon.

Friday would be a very short driving day, just 80 km (50 miles) to Jasper.

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