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Coliseum Mountain
David Thompson Highway, Alberta
September 2, 2017

When I first read about Coliseum Mountain in David Thompson Highway: A Hiking Guide, I was shocked that hikers had to share the trail with quads and dirt bikes. But I have since learned motorized vehicles are no longer permitted; the mountain now provides a pure hiking experience – almost. Dinah and I did encounter a couple of guys on mountain bikes, but they spent much of their time walking their bikes.

There are two trails going to Coliseum. No one seems to take the older, south trail, so Dinah and I used the longer east approach. After heading east for 1.4 km, the trail climbs up a wooded slope in lazy switchbacks. After knocking off most of the trip's elevation, the trail breaks out onto a rocky slope. Here visitors are treated with an iconic view of the summit: a rocky cap poised at the end of a long, elegantly curved ridge. It's a good place to pause, and many hikers do. From there the trail cuts into a scree slope before swinging around to follow the ridge. A short hike up a break in the cliffs brings you to the top of a spacious, grass-covered mountaintop. On a clear day, one would undoubtedly have sweeping views, but we faced a wall of smoke in all directions. Saskatchewan River snaked below, yet we could see nothing of the river valley let alone the river.

For a brief time, we had the summit to ourselves, but soon other hikers began to trickle up, discouraging us from remaining long. As we walked back along the trail, we lamented at the views we missed because of the smoke. We considered a quick hike up the east end of the mountain – it's nearly as high as the summit – but the modest effort would've only provided more smoke-veiled views.

Despite the three-hour drive from Calgary, it would be worth returning on a clear day. Coliseum isn't a colossal mountain, but the views may very well be.

KML and GPX Tracks


Coliseum Mountain trailhead: the main trail is on the right but the summit is left


Starting up the trail


First of many switchbacks


North American red squirrel


An outcrop signals we're near the end of the switchbacks


Our first good look at the summit


The trail runs below a towering pinnacle


Looking back

The trail runs below a cliff band


Looking back along the trail in the scree


Looking like tiers of a coliseum, the curved, rocky rim gives the mountain its name. By the time we reached the summit, the mountains in the background disappeared behind a veil of smoke.


Another look at the trail in the scree


The trail drops into the trees for a time


It was a hot day so we welcomed the shade


After breaking out of the trees, the summit cap appeared ahead


The trail easily ascends a gap in the cliffs


Looking back at the east end of Coliseum from the gap


Standing in front of the huge summit cairn


The only peak we could see was nearby Shunda Mountain


The remains of the foundation of a fire lookout on the summit


83 C/9 Wapiabi Creek

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