Trail Cafe: Trip report - the red deer river along hodoo trail


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Title: the red deer river along hodoo trail
Trip type: seakayaking
Summary: A 2 hour trip on a lazy river, from Drumheller to Star mine pedestrian suspension bridge. It was a relaxed float, reminding me a bit of the North Saskatchewan in Edmonton, which is to say slow and silty and running through a valley, but with much nicer/interesting valley walls.
Author: M. Tanton
Date of Trip: Sept 3, 2016
Country: CA
Province: Alberta
County/City/national park/etc: Drumheller
Location Route: Red Deer River
Distance: 10km (est.)
Weather Conditions:Mostly sunny, no wind, about 20 degrees. Just perfect.
Directions to Set in or Trail head: Coming in from Calgary on Hwy 9, Turn Left on Hwy 56, which quickly becomes Hwy 575 (aka S. Dinosaur Trail) Follow this as it turns to the West, and take a right on 12th Ave. Two blocks later turn right again on 2nd Ave, and follow this in around the ball diamonds in the Newcastle beach park. Turn down to the river and the boat launch is obvious.
Directions to Take out: Just downstream of the Star mine suspension Bridge. This is located South on Hwy 56 in Rosedale. Going South on hwy 56 from Drumheller, take a left on Railway Ave, stay left at 1Ave, and turn right then left on to Mabbot Rd, follow this down to the parking lot at the river.
Partners: M. Campbel
Group experience level: experienced
Author's Experience level: experienced
Boat Type Used: Sea kayak (Guillimot)
Authors Trip Rating: good
Trip's Good Points: Dinosaur! Herons, Bald eagles and bad lands
Trip's Bad Points: Traffic noise (not overbearing)

The Trip Report:

The 2 hrs is in sea kayaks which are fairly fast when we did paddle, but we were not pushing hard at any time, and we did take a short detour up rosebud river.

Start in Newcastle beach park in Drumheller, you drive between the ball diamonds right to the rivers edge.

On this day at the put in there was a native fellow fishing, had a couple fish, not sure what kind, maybe white fish, or Greyling. He offered to help us with launch, it is good to be in a small town instead of the 'big' city. During the trip we do see several other groups out fishing. Interestingly, at least to me, almost all of these were of Asian heritage. More interestingly they all seemed to have caught some fish, next time a license and rod are in order.

Put in, almost ready to go
Put in, almost ready to go
The trip starts off through the town of Drumheller. It starts as an easy float: No rapids, no real hazards save the bridge pillars, and that does not change for the entirety of the run. I do not find the town overly intrusive on the river. There are several yards which run down to it, but there are few overbearing buildings on the shore line.

1st heron again, different angle
1st heron again, different angle
The blue heron is a fairly shy bird, when it comes to humans, but there is one here on the river edge in the middle of town. It is the first of a few we see today.

As you come to the bridge over which Hwy 575 runs, there is a rather overbearing green dinosaur looking down from above the trees. It is the worlds largest dinosaur looking over the highway at the bridge and hence the water. It is part of the local information center and surrounding park. It makes for an interesting stop for a snack and a climb up inside the dinosaur, to look out over Drumheller from the mouth of the beast. As I recall from years past, there is a growl played out in the speakers as you get to the top, that scared my girl when she was 2 or 3... it was a long time ago.

The bridge bridge itself and later one other represent the only river hazard on this section, except maybe the odd cow standing out in the water. Under the bridge there is a very small riffle on the river right, and that is the only bit of 'fast' water we see on our trip today. Admittedly we are only paddling for a short trip down the river, who knows what is around the bend. I don't, but I'm pretty sure there is nothing too intense.

Nice house on the left, complete with propane power, and an array of solar panels, afterwards the left side of the has no real buildings.

A blue heron leads us down the river, as we approach, it flies 50-100m down river, and we slowly catch up and he flies down stream again... this repeats 6 or so time before he finally lets us float past.

Stratified layers typical of the banks and hills in the bad lands area
Stratified layers typical of the banks and hills in the bad lands area
Cows, there are two guys right down at the rivers edge. I guess if we can enjoy the river so can they. Although they are mildly interesting it is the hill sides that are the most eye catching things on this float, with their layers of sediment, including a 1m thick band of coal, all cross cut with dry run off channels, and the odd hoodo that provide the ambiance for the trip. That and the sound of the hwy on the river right through most of the trip, save for one interlude when going river left around an island.

[pic 7 r]The Hills on river left have receded a bit as the river meanders over to the right side of the valley, there is still a bit of a bank, with the odd large tree along it. Murray makes the comment that the silhouette of one large half dead tree on the shore of the river would be perfect if it had a bald eagle in it. Sure enough as we approach an eagle flies out from it and sours around in the sky.

Not long after putting in, a nice new house on river right heralds the entry to the former hamlet of Rosedale (now a community considered part of Drumheller).

We cross under the second bridge of the trip and take a short side journey up the Rosebud river. This is where we first thought we may take out, but moved the take out further down stream. Good thing as we can only get up to just before

the highway where the stream becomes too shallow to go further. It would have been a pretty long carry to get the kayaks to the parking lot further on. So after only about 5 minutes of paddling up the creek, we turn around and head back.

There is what looks like an wooden truss based oil derrick way up on the hill on river left, more likely it is something to do with an old mine. We initially though this was the Star mine, and that the trip was nearly over, but it was something else. (not sure what)

Star Mine Suspension Bridge
Star Mine Suspension Bridge
We come to the suspension-foot bridge that marks our takeout, making it very very obvious, there is no risk of paddling past this one. The bridge seems to be quite the local draw for folks, as there are lots of people crossing over the

bridge. I understand there is an old mine over there, but we did not take the time to check it out. If we had more time we would have, today was be necessity a short day on the river. The old mine/hike would be a good addition if you need to add a bit of variety for yourselves. (Other than the going to the Tyrell museum, which is probably why most visitors come to drumheller)

Anyways the takeout on river right... our scout from the suspension bridge earlier made it look like a good takeout, which was confirmed when we saw people putting in there. However it is was a fair bit steeper than we thought, and muddy which is to say slippery. There is what seems to be family of 6 or so fishing there, some of the older ones don't seem to speak much English but try to help us as we stumble up and slip back down the bank. Eventually we make it. On the plus side it does get us out right at the South East corner of the parking lot.

The only problem I had with this trip is it should have been longer, but today it worked out perfect as my sister in law was visiting, and she went with my wife to the dinosaur museum, and no one had to wait too long for the other.



Put in, almost ready to go




First blue Heron of the trip


1st heron again, different angle


still in the town of drumheller, nice view on the far bank


Murray floating through the bad lands


Classic picture of the Bald eagle in flying out from the 1/2 dead tree


Tree stand and the red deer river.


wary blue heron


Stratified layers typical of the banks and hills in the bad lands area


Murray, his boat, and the red deer river.


bald eagle and the banks of the red deer river.


baldy again


maybe you can see it is a bald eagle here


Star Mine Suspension Bridge


red bank walls and suspension bridge.


people crossing the Star mine suspension bridge.


More people on the bridge


the take out

Content Copyright © M. Tanton 2016

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