SULPHUR RIM TRAIL
This popular local trail is well-used by runners and hikers. There are several trail junctions, which can be confusing, so it’s helpful to have a compass or a GPS app to keep your sense of direction! It’s a forested trail that at times follows the rim of the Sulphur Canyon, where you will enjoy stunning views. This trail forms part of Leg 5 of the Canadian Death Race. The signed trailhead is on Hoppe Avenue, just before the Grande Cache Institution.
This trail has many access points and is a moderate trail that is popular for walking, running and biking. Some areas are well-developed and well-marked, but other areas are fragmented and can be challenging to follow. The main trail sign is on the north side of Hoppe Avenue, southwest of town; see pages 56 and 57 of the Grande Cache Adventure Guide for other access points.
This trail goes from town to Victor Lake and to Grande Cache Lake. It starts with a long, downhill close to the south entrance of town, goes down to Victor Lake, and then follows the canal from Victor Lake to Grande Cache Lake. Once past the canal bridge, the trail cuts through the trees to the side of Highway 40, where it leads to the beach at Grande Cache Lake.
If you want the best scenery for the least effort, go see the Sulphur Gates, our best known scenic spot! The area is located in Sulphur Gates Provincial Recreation Area, one of the main staging areas into Willmore Willmore Park. A short 3 to 5-minute walk brings you to a series of platforms built on the cliffs that overlook the confluence of the Smoky and Sulphur Rivers. The last platform is a bit challenging for footing but does have the best views.
MORE TRAILS & HIKES
Grande Cache is built on a flank of Grande Mountain, and the cutline trail up the mountain seen from town entices many to challenge this summit! But the trail that travels up the back of the mountain is much more moderate. Many people drive ATV’s to the summit, but it also makes a great day hike. The views are spectacular, and the power cutline offers a fast, but very steep way back down! This is part of Leg 2 of the Canadian Death Race.
Mount Louie is our shortest summit. The well-marked trail was built for maximum scenery, mostly travelling up a northwest ridge. The combination of forest and exposed rock with the steep ascent make an interesting, challenging hike for most skill levels. The great views make the steep sections worth it! The Cowlick Creek staging area is the access point to the trailhead.
A distinctive mountain to the west that overlooks the town, Mount Stearn is a fairly challenging day hike to the summit. Once there, explore endless alpine meadows and enjoy fantastic views of the town, Willmore Wilderness Park and Lightning Ridge. Access the trailhead on the gravel road to the Sulphur Gates Staging area – just past a large gravel pit, the blue trailhead sign is on your right. A short way down the trail, it intersects with the Leg 5 trail of the Canadian Death Race.
It’s a bit of a drive to the trailhead, but the moderate trail and stroll through fields of alpine wildflowers to the summit are worth it! The trailhead is accessed off the Beaverdam Road, 8 km north of Grande Cache. You’ll drive another 7 km on this rough gravel road, a vehicle with good clearance is a must. Just past the 6.5 km mark, watch for a signed crossroad. Right leads to Mount Hamell, left is the ‘Ambler Loop’ trail, which leads to the Ambler summit trailhead.
Mount Hamell, the dramatic fold mountain north of Grande Cache, is well known for its stunning strata, and for being the toughest leg and highest summit of the Canadian Death Race. There are two well-known routes up to the summit. The South Access Road route is much longer, but the grade is quite moderate. There are two trailheads to access this route, please check the Grande Cache Trails & Adventure Map for more detailed information about the trails. The North-East Ridge route is much shorter but much steeper! Leg 4 (38 km total) of the Canadian Death Race offers another route to the summit and adds in the Ambler Loop.
CANADIAN DEATH RACE TRAILS
The Canadian Death Race takes place every August long weekend in Grande Cache, and attracts runners from around the world! The race loops around Grande Cache on either a 125 km ultra-marathon, or a 42.2 km marathon. Teams from 1 to 5 racers have 24 hours to run the course, which summits 3 mountains and gains over 17,000ft in elevation. The course is divided into 5 sections, or ‘legs’. Many people train on the trail portions of the legs, omitting the highway and street portions of the official course.
For more information, please visit https://www.canadiandeathrace.com/
CDR LEG 1
- Official Course Length 19km
This leg starts in Grande Cache, heads north on Highway 40, then onto the Griffiths Trail and in front of Grande Mountain. The trail comes out south of Grande Cache, above Grande Cache Lake. At this point, it’s 5 km back to town. Or continue on the CDR trail to Grande Cache Lake and then to Peavine Lake. Finish at La Prairie Group, the end of Leg 1.
CDR LEG 2
- Official Course Length 27km
This challenging leg starts at the Flood Mt. trailhead, 10 km south of Grande Cache. The first 7 km is moderate on a well-established trail.
At 7 km, head to the summit via the rugged race loop, or follow the main trail up and down. To do all of Leg 2, turn left onto the ‘Slugfest’ trail, and 3 km of rough, single-track trail takes you to the Grande Mt. road. Head down to the highway, or carry on to the summit of Grande Mountain and back to town down the gruelling, steep powerline trail.
CDR LEG 3
- Official Course Length 19km
The easiest leg, the trail can be accessed off the Landfill Road, or run from the top of the Toboggan Hill to add an extra 1.5 km. Past the landfill, the trail runs downhill for 7 km to the Smoky River, then becomes a road on the Grande Cache Coal site.
At the mine bridge across the Smoky River, you can finish at the highway, or do another 3 km to the Leg 3/4 hut.
CDR LEG 4
- Official Course Length 38km
Leg 4 is the longest route to the summit of Mt. Hamell. Other routes are described on the previous page. Start at the Leg 3/4 race hut; the trail follows the highway, then the power line to a quad trail that connects to a mine road. Two more quad trails take you to the summit. Now, either limit your hike by taking the trail down from the Forestry Look-Out Cabin or continue on the race trail to the South Access Road trailhead. Do the ‘Ambler Loop’ or stay on Beaverdam Road back to Hwy 40.
CDR LEG 5
- Official Course Length 22km
Leg 5 of the official course crosses the Smoky River – which CANNOT be crossed without a boat. The first part of the course is a trail on the west side of the Smoky River, starting from the Leg 4/5 race hut, 6 km north of Grande Cache on Hwy 40. From the hut, the trail parallels the Sulphur Gates Road and exits at the commercial staging area (horse corrals) for Willmore Wilderness Park. The second part can be accessed from the Treatment Plant Road in town.
Neither the Author nor Grande Cache makes any warranties, express or implied, nor assumes any responsibilities for the accuracy of the trail information contained in the map. Many of the trails are unmarked and unmaintained. Some of the trails described are remote and users may encounter conditions due to weather and other factors that were not present when the original trail map was created.
Some sections of the Canadian Death Race (CDR) Trail cross active mining areas, which are not accessible for public use. Obey all signs and proceed accordingly.