The area has long been important to Aboriginal people; several sundance lodges are located on the plains. The Kootenay Plains were visited by explorer David Thompson in the early 1800s.
Map of the Area
Any maps and map views are for general information only. Do not rely on them for navigation or to determine legal boundaries.
OVERVIEW. The Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve encompasses approximately 34 km2 of montane habitat in the North Saskatchewan River valley south of Abraham Lake. It is bordered to the east, west and north by the Bighorn backcountry area and to the south by the Siffleur Wilderness Area.
In the rain shadow of the surrounding mountains and influenced by the wide shape of the valley and persistent winds, the climate of the Kootenay Plains is relatively dry and warm. These favourable climatic conditions result in excellent habitat for wildlife and plant species .
ACCESS is via a walking trail to Siffleur Falls starting at the staging area, and a horse trail to Whiterabbit Creek. A narrow suspension bridge spans the North Saskatchewan River. Use of motorized vehicles in the Ecological Reserve is strictly prohibited.
VEGETATION ranges from dry grassland on sandy soils and open aspen forests to closed lodgepole pine and white spruce forests The dry grasslands are dominated by June grass, pasture sage, prairie groundsel and other grassland species. Limber pine occurs on exposed ridges and river banks, with Douglas fir present on west-facing slopes above the North Saskatchewan River .
14 MAMMAL SPECIES and two amphibian species have been recorded for the Reserve, which is important winter range for Elk, Mule Deer, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep and Moose.
65 BIRD SPECIES may occur in the area, including Mallard, Common Goldeneye, American Kestrel, Spotted Sandpiper, Great Horned Owl, Mountain and Boreal Chickadees, American Robin, Swainson’s Thrush, Mountain Bluebird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Western Meadowlark, Pine Siskin, Vesper Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow and White-winged Crossbill (Alberta Parks website, 2012).
The following information on trails is adapted from a June 2021 information sheet provided by the Government of Alberta. It is useful for historical reference and general guidance. It should not be considered current or used to plan activities [1, 2].
- Siffleur Falls: This popular and scenic hike starts from the Siffleur Falls staging area leading hikers across the open plains and up the Siffleur gorge. This 4-km hike (one way) is of moderate difficulty. Stay on the main path and behind guard rails at all times to ensure your safety. It is possible to continue along this trail to the second and third falls.
- Kinglet Lake: Trailhead and access point for the steep ascent up to Kinglet Lake or Tuff Puff trail.
- Glacier: Suitable for hiking or mountain biking use. Glacier trail also provides access to the Bighorn Backcountry.
- Siffleur Backcountry Access: A direct trail for backcountry hikers or campers heading into the Siffleur Wilderness Area.
- Landslide Lake Interpretive Fire Trail: Located immediately west of the Kootenay Plains, this 2-km, looped trail winds through an area impacted by a recent prescribed burn forest fire.
|Site Name||Kootenay Plains (OC)|
|Site Type||Ecological Reserve|
|Natural Region(s)||Subalpine; Montane|
|O.C. No. (Land Ref. Manual)||546/95|
|PASite ID (Map Ref #)||77|
|Site # (Parks Website)||405|
|Total Area||3438.66 ha. (8496.92 ac.)|
|Recreation Activities||Birding, Hiking – backcountry,Wildlife Viewing|
|Operated By||Parks Division|
|Notes and Comments|
References, Further Reading and Links
The following links are provided as a courtesy but are not verified or endorsed by SAPAA. Clicking on the link will cause you to leave the SAPAA website. The information above is based on: Information & Facilities – Kootenay Plains Ecological Area | Alberta Parks (2022-02-19).
- Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve guide, March 2011.
- Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve (tear sheet), June 2021.