Built along a section of the historic Canadian Northern Western Railway, the Rocky Mountain House to Nordegg Rail Trail has been 30 years in the making. The Brazeau Branch rail line and Taunton Trestle bridge were in use from 1914 to 1985 and now have a renewed purpose as a multi-use recreational trail.
In 2009, Clearwater County commissioned the Rocky to Nordegg Trail concept plan. Alberta’s government recognized the project’s potential and provided capital funding for trail development. To date, $2.4 million has been invested to develop 45 kilometres of trails in the first two phases of the project.
The new Rail Trail will help build regional tourism along this historic route and allow Albertans and visitors to experience the province’s world-class trail system for generations to come.
“I commend Clearwater County for their vision in developing the initial concept to transform an abandoned rail line into a remarkable outdoor corridor. Continued improvements to the Rail Trail will help build regional tourism along this historic route and allow Albertans and visitors alike to experience our world-class trail system.”
When complete, the trail will include amenities such as rest stops, picnic sites and remote campsites. Users will be able to access the trail at multiple points along the route, including the Saunders and Harlech Provincial Recreation Areas and the Nordegg Industrial Park. As a multi-use trail, it will be accessible to hikers, mountain bikers and off-highway vehicles. In the winter season, the trail will be used for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and dogsledding.
“The reopening of the Rail Trail between Nordegg and Rocky Mountain House reflects the collaborative efforts of government, local organizations and passionate community members who have worked tirelessly to restore and revitalize this treasured piece of our community. I congratulate and extend my heartfelt gratitude to all those involved in making this project a reality.”
"We celebrate the restoration of the Taunton Trestle, a symbol of our community's rich history and a vital part of our multi-use trail system. This collaboration between Clearwater County and the Province of Alberta reflects our commitment to preserving our heritage and ensuring safer access for all. This project also aligns seamlessly with our council's strategic plan, emphasizing partnerships and the embrace of our coal transportation era's cultural roots at Brazeau Collieries Mine Sites.”
Project next steps
Work on the trail will continue over the next three years. When complete, the trail will connect Nordegg to Rocky Mountain House, providing memorable trail experiences for future generations of outdoor adventurers.
Phase 3 of the project will link Sunset Creek to the Chambers Creek Provincial Recreation Area and will include construction of a parking area near the redecked Taunton Trestle. Construction will begin in fall 2024 and be completed by late 2025.
Phase 4 of the project will connect Chambers Creek Provincial Recreation Area to the Rocky Mountain House area with about 20 kilometres of trail, pending regulatory and land use approvals. Construction is tentatively scheduled to start in the fall of 2026.
- Rail Trail is 109 kilometres in length and runs between Nordegg and Rocky Mountain House.
- Clearwater County’s contributions have been $900,000 (cost-matching) to date, as well as two industrial lots valued at $90,000 and nine kilometres of trail valued at approximately $60,000.
- Alberta’s government has committed approximately $6 million of capital investment over the next three to five years for design and construction work.
- The Rail Trail project is part of the Alberta government’s Crown Lands Trails and Tourism capital investment commitment of $33.7 million over seven years. Other commitments currently in progress include the Livingstone Public Land Use Zone: Atlas and McGillivray staging area improvements.