Albertawow

Big Whirlpool and Whirlpool Ridge Hike

  Ratings:    Ratings 3 Star
Level: Easy Time/Dist: 1 to 3 hours / 5K return Elevation Gain: 980m

Trailhead: Located next to the David Thompson Highway (#11) 218kms west of Rocky Mountain House. A 4.5 hour drive from Edmonton, 3.5 hours from Calgary. If you're traveling from Calgary the route through the National Parks is shorter than heading through Rocky Mountain House. Park at the roadside pullout on the west side of the Big Whirlpool.

Description: The Big Whirlpool is a short walk down to the North Saskatchewan River. I recommend hiking up Whirlpool Ridge first then down to the Big Whirlpool after. To gain the ridge cross the highway and work your way straight up the rocky spine until you reach the crest of a saddle. Views of the Big Whirlpool and the North Saskatchewan River valley are spectacular. There are several trail braids along the way created by a large population of Mountain Sheep. You'll also find lots of Limber Pines here. Limber Pines are very unusual coniferous trees with branches that you can bend and twist like a rope, this is how they survive the gale force winds that frequently blow across this ridge. Some of the the oldest trees in Alberta were recorded here. Several may be as old as 1000 years. On your way back continue past your parked car down towards the Big Whirlpool on the North Saskatchewan River. The Whirlpool is huge and runs deep. It will not fit in a wide angle lens while standing near the shore. If you're planning to float it make sure you stop upstream first to have a good look at things before entering the Whirlpool. Depending on the time of year and the rivers flow rate it can change from a slow flat rotation of water to a fast enormous slightly inclined funnel.

Studies have shown that fish can be found on both sides of the Whirlpool but not in the Whirlpool itself. That alone is a good indicator of the turbulence under what looks like a gentle rotating surface. I would love to float this stretch of the North Saskatchewan River but I'm not sure if two paddlers are strong enough to escape the wide rotation of the whirlpool. The Government of Canada has placed a water management research station and cable trolley near the Whirlpool. There are several hiking trails located in this area.

 

Near Here: Local campgrounds include Rampart Creek, Thompson Creek, Two O'clock Creek and Crescent Falls Campground. Trailheads to Alexandra's Henry's Trail, Glacier Lake, Kinglet Lake, Loudan Creek, Icefalls Two O'clock Creek, Sunset Lookout, Owen Creek, bolted to a rock face Siffleur Falls, Tuff Puff, Two O'clock Ridge, Coral Ridge, Vision Quest, Windy Point Ridge, Hoodoo Creek, Allstones Creek, Allstones Lake, Crescent Falls, Siffleur Falls, are all located near here. You are in bear country.

 

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Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains
   
Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains
Limber Pine At Whirlpool Point  
   
Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains
   
   
Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains
   
Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains
  Whirlpool Point In Distance
   
Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains
Big Whirlpool And Whirlpool Point Big Whirlpool
   
Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains
Stream Gauging Station Black Bear And Cubs
   
 
   
Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains
Stream Gauging Station Just Before Whirlpool Whirlpool Below
   
Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains
Mount Wilson  
   
Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains
   
Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains
   
Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains
   
Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains Big Whirl Pool Ridge Hike Kootenay Plains

Limber Pines

Whirlpool Ridge

Canada