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Wild Horse Warm Springs

49.816661, -115.481661

It’s a bumpy ride through an old logging road to get to these unfamiliar springs. Anything that has 4×4 will take you there.Highway 93/95 from Fort Steele. Turn right onto Wardner-Fort Steele Road (Norbury Lake Provincial Park turnoff), pass a gas station on your left, and take the first left onto the downhill Wild Horse River Forest Service Road about 0.3 km later. (It’s right before the bridge.)After about 7 kilometres, stay right where the Lakit Lookout road branches leftThe road becomes a little rough after you pass this.

Drive for another 11 kilometres, then turn left upward (the East Wild Horse River road branches right and downhill.) After 3 kilometres, the route crosses the Wild Horse River on the east bank. After another 5 kilometres, turn left at a Y junction.At 5 kilometres, you will cross two wooden bridges. The second bridge spans the river and is topped with a cottage. There is another y junction after 1.5 kilometres. From the highway, it’s around 28 kilometres and a little over an hour, depending on driving speed.Drive about a half-kilometer down the right fork to an open camping spot. You can tell this is a camping spot if you go in the summer. Do not proceed further this point since the route becomes extremely dangerous. 

Several faint Trails lead down the Steep Bank to the Wildhorse River from the parking site. Just before the camping area, the most apparent Trail begins. Drop down to the river, cross across (which is simple in the late seasons or during droughts), and follow a thin trail downstream. Within the first 100 metres, you will come across little streams and a vast open meadow region. Hike a few metres up the swampy tufa slope to the main soaking pool after crossing the creeks. It will take around 10 minutes or less to walk from the camping area.

 

Spring water makes up nearly all of the water entering the Wildhorse River from the East Bank. Warm water rushes into the river from a 3-foot high Fairbank, while a big Cold Spring runs into the river from the base of the tooth. Warm water runs for at least a hundred and fifty feet above the tufa bench from at least a half-dozen vents. The temperatures in these springs range from 21 to 33 degrees Celsius. On the coldest days, higher temperatures were recorded, whereas on the hottest days, lower temperatures were recorded.

The water is clear and odourless, having dissolved minerals of sulphate in calcium. A two-foot-deep pool built up with stones sits above the tufa. The spring system’s warmest waters bubble up from the slightly murky bottom. Except on a hot day, this pool is too chilly for an Extended Stay.

These springs are located on Crown land, and a government and forestry map of the area may show numerous logging roads, although the majority of these roads are now overgrown. The region is lush with Fireweed paintbrush and a variety of other flowers that brighten up the area during the summer. There used to be more Springs in the vicinity. 2 has been discovered around 1 kilometre downstream from the Springs. All additional springs in this area appear to have dried up; do let us know if you come across any.

The featured photo comes from @jasonwalchuck on instagram and he has a amazing book newly released, Stoked On Waterfalls: A Guide to Alberta’s Roadside and Short Hike Waterfalls is Volume 1 in a series of books that he aims to complete, which document every waterfall in Alberta. Volume 1 documents 208 waterfalls that are located 500 meters or less from any public road within the boundaries of Alberta. Sure to complement any hot spring soakers library!

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