The Hwy 11 area just West of Nordegg in Alberta is home to some beautiful scenery – and it lacks the tourists of Banff and Jasper. Although I’ve been in this area before, it’s always worth a return trip at different times of the year to enjoy some camping and exploring. This trip out, I just wanted to concentrate on exploring Nordegg (reserved for a future post), Crescent Falls and a small part of Abraham Lake.
Abraham Lake is a man-made lake and reservoir system on the North Saskatchewan River in Alberta. It was created in 1972 in conjunction with the Bighorn Dam (I’ll post on this later). Although man-made, it does take on the brilliant blue color of the other glacial lakes in the Rocky Mountains.
The area is about a 3 hour drive from either Calgary or Edmonton.
The trip was to encompass a weekend in June 2014 and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect for wildlife. Along this stretch of highway, I’ve seen wild horses, bears, coyotes, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, wolves and more. It rarely disappoints, and today would be no exception.
Bighorn sheep don’t have much fear when it comes to traffic, so pay attention when driving through here. Also, when photographing wildlife, stay in your car – I’d hate to think how much damage one of these would do if they got upset and charged you.
I haven’t figured out the flow of Abraham Lake quite yet, but at this time of the year, water is low. Actually, it is so incredibly low that the most of the lake is dry. Coupled with dry weather, the lake bottom is so dry and firm that you can safely drive out on it.
The area is rich with off-road trails – just pick a trail and go. Pay attention to signs, as some is private property, and other areas are sometimes closed depending on trail conditions. Don’t forget to tread lightly and don’t leave your trash behind!
There are numerous free crown land areas you can camp in. There are no amenities, but lot’s of trees in the area. That being said, there are also a few camp grounds if you’d prefer a few creature comforts. I always enjoy Crescent Falls camp ground, or the one at Fish Lake just West of Nordegg.
The Crescent Falls campground is set back in a fair distance, and there is a very minor water crossing to get there. If you have a low car or RV, you may not want to camp here as you’ll likely bottom out crossing this small stream. Make it through though it’s a great place to camp.
I’m going to have to return here and take some better photos in 2015. Also, I didn’t do much hiking here, and if you take a few minutes, you can hike down and get into the waterfall basin. I look forward to the photo opportunities while down there.
Although I haven’t yet seen any bears right in Crescent Falls, given the bear activities on the roads and trails just out of the area, keep your bear spray at the ready when in this area. You wouldn’t want to get trapped on a steep hiking trail and come face to face with a startled bear.
I spotted this structure out in the Abraham Lake. I’ve been trying to research what it could possibly be, but really have no idea and have had no luck in my research. Any one with any thoughts?
This section of Highway 11 in Alberta always warrants a return trip. As a matter of fact, I’ve been through this area many times and always enjoy coming back. One of my first trips was in May of 2013 (photos here). When in the area, you’ll want to take in Crescent Falls, scenes around Abraham Lake, the Bighorn Dam and review the destruction of the fall 2014 forest fire in this area too. Don’t forget to explore the tiny mining town of Nordegg and take the mine site tour!
I have 118 photos from this trip out, and you can view them on my Flickr album here.