Iron Horse Rail Trail Cycle Tour

Elbow Valley Cycle Club, Calgary, Alberta Canada

2002 May 18 - 20
~ 150 km
Tour Co-Ordinator: Peter LaGrandeur

Webmaster: P. LaGrandeur..............Last Update 2005 Jan 30

Pre-trip meeting: 2002 May 15, Wednesday 7:30PM
location: .. call Tour Co-Ordinator

* Where is the Iron Horse Trail? *

Locator Map

Locator map for Iron Horse Rail Trail.


Iron Horse Rail Trail Route.

Adjacent Highways

Iron Horse Rail Trail Route.

* EVCC Cycle Tour Overview *

Tour Status

Persons considering participating in this tour should understand that this trip is regarded as being 'exploratory' since the route is new and not fully developed. Not enough documentation is available to fully ascertain every necessary detail.

Participants should also be aware that this rail trail between Waskatenau (pronounced ' wah-set-na ') and Heinsburg will not be formally put into commission this year (2002) as a recreational facility open to the public. Any use of it by anyone will be under the understanding that it is in primitive and undeveloped condition and not 'ready' for general public use.
Tour will be self supported. There will no sag wagon or luggage truck.

Because we are unsure of the trail's surface conditions it will be better not to have bicycles loaded with camping gear or pulling trailers.


We will be staying at the Municipal campground right in St. Paul. As you drive into the west edge of town, watch for the Ford dealer on the north side. Look across the street to the south side to see the RCMP post. The campground is right behind the RCMP.

The site has showers, firewood, and grassy areas.

There is a group tenting area for tenters. If there are no tables, then we can carry some over from other areas of the campground. The group tent sites are $5 per night.

Individual stalls are available for vehicles, and trailers. Vehicle stalls are $10/night with no power and $15/night with power.

There is a lock box with envelopes for everyone to pay. Each individual will look after their own payments.

Showers are not coin controlled; they are included in the price.

The campsite manager is Guy Germaine. Guy's home phone is 780-645-3732. His work no. is 780-645-4468. Guy has been made aware that most of us will come in on Friday evening.

St. Paul has basic services available throughout the weekend, such as grocery stores.

Basic Itinerary

  • Day 0, Friday, May 17, 2002: Travel to Smoky Lake area and prepare for overnight sojourn.

    From Calgary, and following a route that includes such waypoints as Red Deer, Wetaskiwin, Camrose, Viking, Two Hills, Folsy, and St. Brides, the distance would be approximately 485 km.

  • Day 1, Saturday, May 18, 2002: Smoky Lake - Ashmont 64km

    This segment to be confirmed. Alternatively, we may ride a portion of the Abilene/Grand Centre route.

  • Day 2, Sunday, May 19, 2002: Ashmont to Elk Point - 55km

  • Day 3, Monday, May 20, 2002: Elk Point to Heinsburg - 32km
For this weekend, there is the possibility that the segment of trail between Waskatenau and Bellis, and maybe as far as Ashmont, will still be undergoing preparation for use as a linear park. In that scenario, we will look at riding the rail bed between the Abilene junction and Grand Centre. This segment is roughly 100km long.

Waypoints (km)


Participant Agreement

  1. Risk Acknowledgement & Acceptance of Self Responsibility

    • The Elbow Valley Cycle Club offers this trip on the understanding it is a Common Adventure where each participant conducts him/herself independently, makes his/her own judgements about safety and well being, takes full responsibility for his/her own actions, and contributes whatever he/she can towards the success of the trip.

    • The Tour Co-Ordinator is not a leader or professional guide of any type and acts only to provide basic logistical arrangements for initiating and running the trip.

    • The route, itinerary and all other aspects of this trip are only suggested and, as responsible tourists, each participant is expected to research everything prior to the trip to whatever extent he/she feels is necessary to determine that all is safe and suitable.

    • Each participant is expected to possess any skills, equipment, fitness, common sense, etiquette, knowledge of applicable legislations, etc., to enjoyably and safely be involved in this activity.

    • Each participant is the sole and final judge about his/her capability to safely proceed w!ith this tour. All participants recognize financial loss, physical injuries and death to be real possibities facing anyone in the sport of bicycling and related activities and agree to assume all risks and consequences.

    • All participants agree to absolve the Elbow Valley Cycle Club, its organizers, administrators and agents of any liability arising from Club activities.

    • Any person who does not feel confident or self reliant about their abilities or who does not agree with this philisophy should not participate on this tour.

  2. Participants recognize this is an exploratory trip on a linear park facility that is still undergoing development and is not yet open to the public for use. Trail surface conditions, signage, and road crossing management may be under-developed or non-existent.

  3. Participants understand there are many potential perils that may be encountered while participating in the Iron Horse Trail Bicycle Tour including hostile animals, motorists, lack of electronic contact, non-ideal road conditions, remoteness from support services such as medical aid, rescue, etc.. I will educate myself and gain sufficient experience in whatever skills are required to capably handle any situation I may be presented with. These skills include bicycle repair, aggressive animal avoidance & disengagement, first aid, hot/cold/wet weather survival, motor vehicles and operators of same, route finding, etc..

  4. Participants will wear, at all times, a bicycle helmet, properly fastened, approved by ANSI, SNELL, or CSA, while operating a bicycle on an EVCC sanctioned activity.

  5. Participants will, at all times, ride courteously and abide by all applicable legislations while operating a bicycle on any EVCC sanctioned activity.

* Trail Evolution *

A possible 250+ kilometre long trail system was first envisioned in 1993 by the locals of the area. It would be comprised of two legs, Waskatenau to Heinsburg and Abilene to Cold Lake. The CN line was eventually abandoned in June of 2000. The last train ran in October 2000. The neighbouring ten rural municipalities had discussions with the urban centers and eventually all parties joined together to form a non-profit charity, originally known as 'Part Nine Co.', now officially registered as N.E. MuniCor.

The association had a vision for the future and did not want this opportunity to pass them by. The integrity of the line should be preserved! The corridor was intended to be for multiple uses, including a recreational trail. It would also serve as a corridor for wildlife and public utilities.

MuniCor acquired the sidings and property from CN Rail as a charitable donation. MuniCor holds all assets and monies received on the sale of any assets. Because the land is privately owned, the association can deal effectively with any government agency.

Canadian National Rail left all eighteen bridges intact, PLUS redecked the surfaces PLUS installed chain link fence along each side of each bridge.

The Elk Point to Heinsburg segment of the ROW had been abandoned in 1989. The main reason for the purchase was the propertyís gravel resource and secondarily, for other public uses including a recreational trail. The 'Iron Horse Trail' is now in place on this section of the ROW.

Under the agreement, CN agreed to provide a bursary to take care of any outstanding reclamation or clean-up issues in the future and to clean up the ROW. Part 9 Company had hired an independent environmental surveyor to identify contaminated sites and other issues. CN is now monitoring these sites. Where issues may arise in the future or for sites already identified as contaminated, CN agreed to lease back and monitor identified sites on an ongoing basis for up to 25 years provided contamination does not spread any further. If it does, CN is obligated to remediate the site. In the future, adjacent landowners will deal with MuniCor when identifying land requiring clean up (to CNís responsibility), and are able to identify such areas for up to 50 years. A bylaw was passed for the protection of the public so that the land would not be unsafe. Culverts, proper drainage and slope also had to be in place.

An independent appraisal of the property was conducted allowing anyone who wishing to purchase excess land can do so at fair market value. Any proceeds from land sale would go to MuniCor. Individual municipalities make decisions regarding the zoning of sold land within their respective areas. Disposition of property has to be done with a unanimous vote. If a municipality discontinues membership property cannot be taken with it. Any repairs over $5,000 come from Municor's funds and any repairs under $5,000 come from the affected municipality.

The Association had been set up on a long-term basis. There are ten directors and each has one vote. Bill payments are based on number of miles, population and assessment. Municipalities have been encouraged to pass bylaws governing matters such as speed limits and usage procedures on the trail. A shared use agreement has been made with adjacent landowners and the local trail group. There are many highway crossings and CN has paid for signage at intersections to assist in making it safe and operational.

The RCMP reportedly is very eager to help out with policing and will patrol the route with ATV quads. There will be strict enforcement of posted speed limits, insurance requirements and alcohol consumption. Fines could be imposed.

Most adjacent landowners were apparently not interested in purchasing any of the former rail ROW as the land has little agricultural value and could be polluted. Contamination remediation would have been a responsibilty of new landowners.

It has been observed that rural communities are dying off. The Part 9 Company had felt that they had a responsibility to assist these communities. It is hoped that farmers would adjust to these changes and share with the community in a partnership for the future.

The former rail bed is mostly flat

The west half is through fields and clumps of trees with the east half through forest.

There are provincial parks and other road side campgrounds already in place close to the trail

It is reported there are no fences across ROW except with gates

The surface supposedly is in good shape all the way. The only rough spot, consisting of loose gravel, extends for less than a kilometer and is located between Elk Point and Lindbergh

* Trail Topo Maps *

Need to Know Which Maps to Ask For at a Map Store?

NTS Topo Maps - 1:250,000

  • 73E "Vermilion"
  • 73L "Sand River"
  • 83I "Tawatinaw"

County Maps

  • County of Smoky Lake #13
  • County of St. Paul #19

Map Retailers

  • Map Town .. Calgary, AB .. #100, 400 5th St. SW .. T2P 0L6 .. (403) 266-2241 .. (877) 921-6277 ..
  • Mapworld Services 2000 Inc. .. Calgary, AB .. 215A-6 Ave. SW .. (403) 294-0393

Click a Thumbnail Below to Go To a Topo Map Excerpt

Click this thumb nail to go to IHT topo map segment '1' Click this thumb nail to go to IHT topo map segment '2' Click this thumb nail to go to IHT topo map segment '3' Click this thumb nail to go to IHT topo map segment '4' Click this thumb nail to go to IHT topo map segment '5'
Click this thumb nail to go to IHT topo map segment '6' Click this thumb nail to go to IHT topo map segment '7' Click this thumb nail to go to IHT topo map segment '8' Click this thumb nail to go to IHT topo map segment '9' Click this thumb nail to go to IHT topo map segment '10'

Waskatenau - Smoky Lake - Segment '1'.

Waskatenau - Smoky Lake - Segment '1'
Click your 'Back' button to return to the Map Index.

Smoky Lake - Edwand - Segment '2'

Smoky Lake - Edwand - Segment '2'
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Edwand - Bellis - Segment '3'

Edwand - Bellis - Segment '3'
Click your 'Back' button to return to the Map Index.

Vilna - Spedden - Segment '4'

Vilna - Spedden - Segment '4'
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Spedden - Abilene - Segment '5'

Spedden - Abilene - Segment '5'
Click your 'Back' button to return to the Map Index.

Abilene - Owlseye - Segment '6'

Abilene - Owlseye - Segment '6'
Click your 'Back' button to return to the Map Index.

St. Paul - Segment '7'

St. Paul - Segment '7'
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Elk Point - Segment '8'

Elk Point - Segment '8'
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Elk Point - Lindbergh - Segment '9'

Elk Point - Lindbergh - Segment '9'
Click your 'Back' button to return to the Map Index.

Lindbergh - Heinsburg - Segment '10'

Lindbergh - Heinsburg - Segment '10'
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View/download the Elbow Valley Cycle Club's membership form.

Participants on this ride must be members of the Elbow Valley Cycle Club. Click on the icon at left to view and print this document. Mail completed form and funds to the EVCC Membership Director @ 1111 Memorial Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 3E4 Canada


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