About This Website
This website displays landscape scenics and hiking and riding routes in Willmore Wilderness Park, located in the province of Alberta in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. All information is based on my 30 or so years of hiking and riding in the park, mostly in the summer season.
Many of the images show hikers traveling on routes that are trace trails or game trails or cross-country, where there are no trails. Thus the trails you see marked on the maps may not exist as you expect them too. They are routes I've used to get to some of the places where almost no one sets foot but for the wildlife that reside in the park. The trails shown on mpas and trail junctions are generally not well marked in Willmore. So it's important to travel with a topo map and a gps and a feel for reading the landscape. Most of the hard trails in Willmore follow the river valleys. For the most part, they were made by people who used the park, trappers and indigenouis peoples in the past, and wilderness outfitters and hunters in the last 80 or so years. If you go into Willmore from the Rock Lake trailhead, the initial route is a dirt road that was pushed in long ago for purposes of oil and gas exploration and fire prevention (or so I've heard). Fortunately, attempts to harvent the forests, drill for oil and gas and extract coal have not been allowed since the park was protected mid-20th century. And various attempts to develp roads and lodges have also not been permitted. So the park has no bridges and the only infrastructure is an occasional warden's or trapper's cabin.
There are numerous camps in Willmore, mostly used these days by hunters. Like the trails, they were established by users: hunters and outfitters. So far as I know, none were built by park designers or government agencies. Most are located near streams and have little more than some flat ground for pitching tents, a firepit and a primitive biffy. Many have horse railings for tieing off outfitter's and hunter's horses. All are first come, first served although some outfitters feel ownership or entitlement to a particular campsite. Those that frequent Willmore refer to the camps by the names of the outfits that occupty them the most frequently, for example, one hears of the Kelly or Manzer or Hall camps. Other camps are known by their locational names, for example, Snow Creek Camp near Jackknife Pass or Hay Summit camp at the summit of the Wildhay River. Some camps are only known by mileage numbers which refer to the distance from the old settlement of Entrance, where many Willmore trips originated in the past. Thus "51" is not 51 miles or kilometers from the trailhead, but instead is 51 miles from Entrance on old trails that may no longer exist.
During the summer, many of these camps are empty. If hikers occupy a camp, they might find that an outfit rolls in during their stay ... particularly if the day is late and there are few other established camps within miles. Similarly, hikers looking for a campsite will probably be well received, at least for a night, if they find a camp occupied and the distance to the next camp is too far to travel.
During hunting season, almost all are occupied by hunters. For the most part, the hunters are after Big Horn Sheep and Mountain Goats. Given that hunters need to carefully scope the animals to ensure that they're legal, hiking during hunting seasons isn't as dangerous as it might be if there were lots of deer hunters in t he forests.