Old Entrance B&B is just outside Hinton. If you're looking for a quiet place close to nature, this is the place. They have 4 cabins for renting. They are known as the Rustic Ridge, the Brown, the White and the Grey Cabin. Each of them hold varying amounts of guests.
I stayed in the Brown Cabin, the smallest of the 3. It has a futon that becomes the second bed. Table and chairs for 2 and a full kitchen. The queen size bed on the other side of the wall in the living room. The bathroom is a full size, a bit outdated and only a small hot water tank. There is a wood burning stove in the main room. There is also a small TV and DVD player. If you don't wish to make your own breakfast there is an option for an additional $20/child or $30/adult and you can have your breakfast at the main house.
How much is it to stay there?
Peak season June 13 to September 20, 2014 & Christmas Break the rates for 3 cabins are $155/night. The Rustic Ridge is $125/night.
Off season September 15, 2013 to June 12, 2014 the rates for the 3 cabins are $110/night and the Rustic Ridge is $80/night.
There is also a multi night discount Off-Season Multi-night Discount Rate:
(2 to 3 night stay) October - May, double occupancy $99/night
(4 to 6 night stay) October - May, double occupancy $89/night
(7 to 27 night stay) October - May double occupancy $79/night
There is also the main house which has rooms you may book. Or in the summer season you can reserve a teepee - you can pay extra for bedding but it's preferred you bring your own sleeping bags. The option to pay for breakfast in the main house is also available.
There is also horseback riding available from May until October. These trails are over a variety of terrain; in the river valley, up onto open foothill ridges with spectacular mountain views and through mature evergreen forests and back down to Old Entrance.
Trail riding is a great way to quietly get in touch with nature. Enjoy many wild flowers and spectacular scenery along the eastern slopes of the Rockies. Wildlife is occasionally spotted while horseback riding; most often a squirrel, deer, coyote and an occasional elk or bear. Sighting of birds of many varieties is common; hawks, eagles, ravens, northern flickers, ruffed grouse, robins, jays and chickadees to name a few.
Rates for the trail rides -
1 hour - Orchard Creek Loop: $40/person
1 1/2 hour - Mountain View Loop: $50/person
2 hour - Athabasca River Ridge: $65/person
3 hour - Pete's Pond: $90/person
3 1/2 hour - Athabasca River Ridge & Pete's Pond: $110/person
Half Day Trip (4 hour) - Indian Camp: $125/person
How Do You Get There?
Old Entrance, Alberta is located within Yellowhead County along the north bank of the beautiful Athabasca River, 14 km north-west of Hinton, Alberta, Canada and 30 km from the east gate of Jasper National Park.
Grande Cache is near one of the staging areas for the Willmore Wilderness area, and so was added to my itinerary. The visitor center is one of the first places you encounter as you enter town on Hwy 40 from the south.Their displays include interpretive exhibits on local aboriginal peoples, fur trading,local industry as well as natural history.
The girl at the desk provided me with a hand drawn map that to lead me to Sulphur Gates and the Willmore stagin area! WooHoo!!!
The Aspen Forest trail takes off from right behind the visitor center and is a wonderful way to explore and stretch your legs a bit.
I had seen this park on a map, but it meant nothing to me until I got into the Hinton area and began talking with locals. After hearing their descriptions, I was stoked! So .... off I went, with a hand drawn map from the visitor center to guide me to one of my stopping points.
My first stop was Athabasca Tower which allows a panoramic viewpoint over the Wanyandi Meadows toward Jasper ..... I would never have taken this dirt road so far if I didn't have that local's map! It was totally worth the time and effort! There is a more well known stopping point at the nordic center closer to the main road ... I didn't even stop there, I had been told the Tower Lookout was THE place :) The road ends at a radio tower looking thing, just past a forest fire watch station .... I walked up the hill a short distance further and ..... was in awe.
No one told me to stop here, I simply had to pee and pulled in to use the facilities :) I wandered about the picnic area alone, and decided to check this place out a bit further ........ I went into the visitor center, and learned more about the area, including the need to go to Sulphur Gates instead of the Rock Lakes Willmore Wilderness staging area .... for shear beauty of course :)
I was fortuitous to find this easily accessible spot. I took both trails offered from this picnic site ..... around Kelley's Bathtub, and along Jarvis lake and around into the surrounding hills ..... I was alone, yet felt safe as I took the well maintained pathways noted on ... yup, another hand drawn map!
Sulphur Gates is an amazing junction point of the Sulphur River and the Smoky River. It takes a little bit of effort to reach the parking/staging area .... I knew I wasn't prepared, or fit enought to trully make it into the Willmore -- I had improper gear, no backpacking experience, and no trail guide. But I so wanted a tastes of this marvelous park/preserve. That meant the Sulphur Gates was my destination another worthy diversion in my day.
Take Hwy 40 north out of Grande Cache across the 'blue bridge' (which is sort of blue with a lot of reddish rust right now) and take the first left turn onto a dirt road after the bridge. After getting on the road, you'll see a sign stating you are on the way to Sulphur Gates. Take this road about 7.5km up, and up, and up some more. The campgroud and parking area are at the end of the road.
The path to the left takes you up a short, but steep, path to the Gates. The road to the right, takes you to Eaton Creek Falls (2-3hr round trip hike) and to Kavass Flats (4-5 hr round trip hike). Willmore contains over 750 km of equestrian/hiking trails and is not accessable by motorized vehicles.
When I make it this way again, I'm taking the time to arrange a horseback expedition into this area .... info at the Grande Cache Visitor Center has me excited and intrigued .......
I had heard about this park while reading a National Geographic Traveler magazine edition that was rating national parks ... and Willmore was one of the top picks of the surveyors for this aricle due to beauty, accessibility, and especially preservation and conservation.
Willmore represents some of the last unexploited habitat for many species of wildlife in Alberta; almost 20% of Alberta's mountain goats & bighorn sheep are found here; other wildlife includes grizzly bear, mountain caribou, cougars & wolves. Resthaven Glacier extends into Willmore from Jasper National Park too! It is rare to see others on the paths here, as motorized vehicles are prohibited in Willmore and therefore has fewer visitors.
There are about 750km of trails within this park - most of them established during the early fur trading days. Minimal trail maintenance occurs, so experience in backcountry exploration is necessary to access most of this park.
There are only 2 official staging areas to reach this park. One is toward the northeast corner at Sulphur Gates, the other is to the southeast at Rock Lake which is located about 30km east of Hwy 40 down a poorly conditioned road.
Guided horseback trail rides departing from Old Entrance along the scenic Athabasca River valley. A real western riding experience. Ride historic trails originally used by early explorers, trappers and forest rangers in the foothills along the beautiful eastern slopes of the Rockies. These trails are over a variety of terrain; in the river valley, onto open foothill ridges with spectacular mountain views and through mature evergreen forests.