Level of Experience
Most of our wilderness 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 Mountains & Prairie combo require a higher standard of riding because we set a faster pace than is possible in the mountains. For less experienced riders, we recommend looking into our Elbow Loop Teaser Tour or a Ranch & Ride. Our horses are trained western style (neck-reining), but most English trained riders adapt very quickly to this style of riding.
Please contact us or check out our skill level assessment if you are unsure about your skills. We ask that when you book a trip with us that you are as honest as possible about your skill level as the health of our horses and the experience for other riders depends on it. We attempt to pair groups of similar skill sets on our trips to ensure the best experience possible for all guests and our horses!
Maximum Group Size
We consider 8 to be the maximum group size for our back-country trips. We prefer smaller groups as it allows us to provide the most individualized service and experience possible for our guests. We will on occasion take larger groups if booked together, but will limit it to a certain number of people.
For groups of 4 or more, we can organize 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.
Age 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 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.
Trails 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.
Food and Accommodation
On the trail we stay in simple but comfortable and very scenic camps. Imagine waking up to a sunrise over the mountains, while the horses graze in the meadow. The locations of our camps are well chosen within the given geography and have water and forage for the horses nearby. We sleep in large wall tents, which are big enough for 6 people. Most camps have several tents so the group can be split up if necessary. We always camp within easy walking distance of a clear stream or river where you can swim or wash yourself. Our longer pack-trips have some primitive camps where you can sleep under the stars in a cozy lean-to.
Each day we provide 3 freshly prepared meals, cooked over the open campfire. All our meals are made from scratch using as many local and fresh ingredients as possible. The menu changes daily and offers typical local dishes but also internationally inspired cuisine. 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. All the food and ingredients have to be transported to camp via packhorse.
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 horse that will suit your riding abilities, size and weight
- Comfortable western and endurance saddles with saddle bags
- An enthusiastic team that will do its best to provide you with an unforgettable adventure together with a handful of like-minded horse people
Guides 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. On our wilderness pack-trips, there will always be two backcountry guides with you. Our guides have current wilderness first-aid training and Equine Field Leader certifications from the Outdoor Council of Canada. Backcountry guides always carry a satellite phone in case of emergencies. Wranglers lead the packhorses with your gear into camp, usually on a different route than the one the group takes. We resupply all of our camps every few days with fresh supplies. All of our guides and wranglers share the same love and pride for this country and are delighted to pass it on to our guests.
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 South in October. Please see our calendar 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.
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.
Packtrips can be customized to suit the skills of groups, and expeditions combining riding with hiking and canoeing are also offered.
We Hope You Will Ride With Us Soon
Cancellation Policy – Packtrips
A 30% payment of the total trip price is due upon booking as a deposit. 50% of your deposit will be returned if we receive notice of cancellation in writing more than 90 days in advance. Within 90 days prior to departure, the entire deposit will be forfeited. A deposit for a canceled trip may be transferred to another person participating in the same trip as originally booked. The alternate person must fulfill the minimum riding requirements for this ride. Final payment of the balance must be received no later than 30 days prior to departure and is non-refundable. We highly recommend an appropriate trip cancellation insurance.