A High Mountain Trail Ride, Black Diamond Alberta

While taking a road trip through Southern Alberta and exploring my roots at the Bar U Ranch and High River, we had the opportunity to go on a high mountain trail ride into the Canadian Rockies.

By the time we got to the Anchor D Ranch, in Black Diamond, we were ready to explore the Rocky Mountains and heading into the foothills on horseback was just the ticket.

high mountain trail ride view of ranch

We didn’t know what to expect from a high mountain trail ride, but we assumed that we wouldn’t be walking across rocky ledges plunging into the valley below. Boy were we wrong!

What is a High Mountain Trail Ride

It turns out that a High Mountain Trail Ride, means exactly what it says. It’s a trail ride that goes high into the mountains.

high mountain trail ride ranch
starting off at the ranch

We started off with an easy ride following ranch owner and our guide for the day, Dewey Matthews, where we got our legs and used to our horses.

A cougar ran out on the trail in front of us but we weren’t afraid. Sitting on a horse makes you feel invincible and we had our watchdog, Buddy along to alert us of any moose, grizzlies or cougars in the area.

He’d scare them away or fend them off.

high mountain trail ride trail

We didn’t see any more cougars that day, but the adventure was about to begin once we started to go up.

We gained 1000 metres (3000 feet) reaching an altitude of (2500 meters) 7250 feet.

Our horses worked hard that day, but they were fit and ready for the challenge.  

The trails were steep and narrow, but the fun had only just started.

Heading up the Mountain

horse machete

After a couple hours of riding through the mountain trails,

Dewey asked: “Are you feeling adventurous?”

“Hell ya,” We said.

Great! I’ve always wanted to go along that ridge, let’s do it” (as he pointed way up over the valley.)

He pulled out his machete and started climbing up a rocky slope.

He yelled back at us to take the exact route he was taking. One misstep and we could be in trouble. Our horses seemed excited about the challenge.

I was amazed at the temperament of Dewey’s horse. As he chopped away at wild evergreen branches the horse stood still until it was time to move on.

high mountain trail ride deb

We ducked our way through trees, climbed over rocks and hiked up steep slopes until we emerged to a beautiful view of the Canadian Rockies.

We had come to Surveyors point and looked out at Ware Mountain; A mountain named after a former slave who settled in Alberta and worked on the Bar U Ranch.

He gained quite a reputation and respect for his skills on a horse and strong character. So much so that there are monuments dedicated to him throughout the province.

We ate our lunch here at this million-dollar view as Buddy ran around sniffing in holes and Dewey tipped his cowboy hat over his eyes for a short nap.

high mountain trail ride deb dave

What goes up must come down though and the real challenge was about to begin. Our ride down the mountain took us along a trail clinging to the edge.

If you had a fear of heights, this would not be a great position to be in.

All we could do was trust our horses and know that they didn’t want to fall over either.

We squeezed our knees into the saddle and kept the reigns short guiding our horse through the rocks and dirt.

I have to say, that both Dave and I were utterly amazed that we were capable of riding this type of terrain. But most of the credit goes to the horses.

As Dewey said to us “You have to have good horses out here, or else you’ll get someone killed.” This isn’t a beach vacation day trip, it’s a Rocky Mountain adventure.

Watch our Alberta Horse Riding Video

We followed Dewey’s lead through the switchbacks and cliff edges until the trail became so steep that we all had to dismount.

Dewey told us that our horses would be thanking us and our own knees would be happy too.

We held the reins loosely and led our trusty steed through the steepest section until it was safe to get back on and finish the descent.

After that it was smooth sailing.

Once the ground levelled off, we had a few chances to gallop. You could tell that the horses were itching to let off some steam and we loved the feeling of riding free and fast.

This was a full day trail ride from dawn to dusk and we still had several miles ahead of us but the most difficult task was over.

Now we only had a few river crossings which our horses were grateful for and an easy leisurely ride back to the horse trailer.

About the Ride

Dewey told us that we rode 20 miles that day, but the real feat was the elevation gain.

We went over mountains and high slopes did countless river crossings, navigated through washed-out roads, over bridges, and on plateaus.

We saw it all. Our horses Snip2 and Buckwheat worked for their hay today!

It was one of the most memorable experiences of our lives and Dewey and his staff at Anchor D were welcoming and hospitable.

They didn’t judge these two novice riders, instead, they treated us like a couple of veterans and allowed us to push our boundaries and see what we were made of.

If you’re looking for a true cowboy experience in Alberta, check out The Anchor D ranch in Black Diamond just a short drive from Calgary.

You’ll feel like you’ve moved into the old west and may never want to leave.

Anchor D Outfitting does trail rides from a couple of hours to several days. When visiting Alberta, you can contact them through their website to book your own high mountain trail ride. AnchorD.com

Get our full Alberta Itinerary at Alberta Road Trip Through Cowboy Country


Read More

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A Spectacular Helicopter Tour with Exclusive Snowshoeing in the Rockies

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

26 thoughts on “A High Mountain Trail Ride, Black Diamond Alberta”

  1. Um. I die for that photo of you guys in 1999!!!!! I will never be that comfortable on a horse, but after being the southwest US for so long, I just love the cowboy/ranch culture. I would love to see that part of Alberta!

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    • Haha, it’s hilarious isn’t it? Dave had quite the head of hair. He went long, I went short. Good fun. I’m glad I could round it up. The one thing we haven’t gotten rid of are our photo albums, so I can scrounge some old photos when Im’m at my parents:) You would love this part of Alberta and if you ride with Dewey, you’ll feel really comfortable. His horses are the best ever! We just rode in Iceland and wanted Dewey’s horses back.

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  2. I got thrown off a horse when I was a kid but it’s something that I’ve been meaning to give another go. This looks like an amazing place to do it!

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  3. What a beautiful ride! We had horses when I was a kid, but I was too young to ride on my own. My dad had broken his back and couldn’t ride, so exercising both horses regularly just got to be a lot for my mom. They sold them when I was about 6 or 7. I’ve never fallen out of love with horses though and love riding!

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    • Ouch, so sorry to hear about your dad’s back. How is he now? My parents sold their horses when I was young too and it’s amazing how they stick with you though eh? I’ve always had a love for horses.

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  4. I hope I can also ride a horse and do horseback riding like you guys did then I will pose a picture like that then upload it on Facebook & Instagram and to gush about it. LOL.

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    • Haha, isn’t that the way of todays world. Putting everything up online for all to see. I wonder what social media will be like in the next 10 years?

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  5. Look at you cool cowboys! I’ve been on a horse a few times, most recently in Maui, but I’ve never had this kind of adventurous ride — don’t think I should, either. 🙂 But love reading about your experience and seeing the great pics of the rocky, steep trail.

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    • You could totally do it! All you have to do is put all your trust in the horses and the guide of course. We felt perfectly safe with Dewey. Lucky you getting to ride in Maui, I’d love to do that too!

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  6. Amazing day! I can’t imagine a batter ride or more beautiful terrain – and I love the shot from the 90’s! Fabulous!

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  7. I have rode with Anchor D before and truly enjoyed it. They have the best horses!!! They are not the follow the leader, brainless trail riding horses that other outfitters use. The horses are well cared for and are kept in superb shape. Also, they have many sized and temperament horses to suit every rider. The views on the high mountain rides are truly magnificant.

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    • You are so right! They do have the best horses and yes, every one of these guys has a mind of their own. We weren’t out following the leader, we were actually out riding. I loved every minute of it. I love that they let the out every night to roam free too. It’s truly a ranch experience in an amazing setting.

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    • Thanks, we definitely loved this tour and look forward to going back one day. Dewey says it’s beautiful in the winter and they keep the trail rides going all year long.

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  8. I have tried and tried to fall in love with horseback riding and I just can’t. It’s sooo uncomfortable for me. I’m going to keep trying though! I definitely think it’s an amazing way to see the countryside. Love these pics!

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    • Keep trying for sure. Maybe you just need the right horse and experience like this one that we had at the Anchor D. We’ve had some bad experiences too, but when you get a good one, you’ll be hooked for life.

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  9. I never rode a horse before but the wifey did and she said her butt and inner thighs were paying for it later. Good to see that Dave is no longer in pain from riding horses. Those are great views really enjoyed the post and the photos!

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    • Haha, yes, you are sore the next day. We were walking around a little hunched over. YOu have to squeeze your thighs and you spend a lot of time working your legs. When you think about it during a trot or lope, you are really digging in. So it’s a work out and you don’t even know you’re working out. And yes indeed, Dave has come a long way for sure! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and as usual, all of Daves photos are awesome, I agree.

      Reply