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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A popular Jeep Cherokee for sale, a blue 2023 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, is shown off-roading.

Exploring Alberta’s Best Off-Road Destinations

With a reputation for 4×4 performance that stretches all the way back to the battlefields of World War II, Jeep knows a thing or two about off-road driving. This storied brand has long delivered some of the most rugged, capable vehicles on the market, with the Jeep name becoming virtually synonymous with the idea of off-road excellence. While many drivers flock to the Jeep Wrangler when seeking a hardy 4×4 option, the rest of the brand’s line-up holds its own with a full stable of reliable-off models. Those considering a Jeep Cherokee for sale, for example, might want to check out the crossover SUV’s Trailhawk trim, which adds a host of off-road equipment to the attractively-styled model.

Powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, the Cherokee Trailhawk comes complete with a lifted suspension, off-road tires, dedicated traction modes, and Jeep Active Drive Lock 4×4. Coming standard on the Trailhawk trim, Jeep Active Drive Lock dramatically improves the Cherokee’s off-road chops and is paired with the Selec-Terrain traction management system that offers four dedicated modes for snow, sport, sand/mud, and rock.

A locking rear differential ensures drivers will have all the low-speed power they need to tackle the roads less travelled, and a gear reduction feature makes rock crawling easier than ever. Best of all, the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is just as capable of taking on pockmarked off-road trails as it is navigating the grocery store parking lot, making it a well-rounded choice that won’t ask drivers to sacrifice comfort or efficiency in the name of off-road fun.

Given the Cherokee Trailhawk’s reputation for performance, Jeep drivers are always looking for an excuse to make for the trails. Luckily for them, Alberta is chock-full of off-road locations perfect for a weekend of mud-slinging, rock-crawling fun. From relaxed backcountry rides through the southern prairies to challenging feats of off-road strength in the Alberta badlands, there’s plenty of adventure to be had across Wild Rose Country. Join us as we explore some of the province’s best off-road destinations and see if any of them are a match for Jeep’s well-equipped Cherokee Trailhawk.

Alberta’s Best Off-Road Trails

Lost Knife Trail

If you’re new to off-roading, just punch Waiparous Village into your GPS and get ready to earn your stripes. Just west of the town on Highway 40, you’ll find Lost Knife Trail—10 km of off-road trails that offer the perfect introduction to off-road driving. From muddy ruts to challenging grades, the Lost Knife Trail has it all, giving drivers of all levels the perfect venue to hone their off-road skills. This popular trail is rated easy to moderate, and it is easy to follow, although many drivers have noted that the route tends to get considerably dusty in dry conditions. Lost Knife Trail can be completed in an hour and a half under normal conditions, although bad weather or unexpected hazards can lengthen that. The trail is notable for its accessibility, even in a four-wheel drive vehicle like the Cherokee Trailhawk that hasn’t been kitted out with all the latest and greatest in off-road equipment.

Prairie Creek Provincial Recreation Area

Prairie Creek Provincial Recreation Area is one of Alberta’s best off-roading destinations, offering a vast network of trails that range from beginner-friendly to expert-only. Located smack dab between Calgary and Edmonton, just south of Rocky Mountain House, Prairie Creek is a year-round destination for recreational motoring with trails that are suitable for both off-road vehicles and snowmobiles. The area has plenty of campsites, and while off-road is prohibited within their borders, they offer the perfect base camp from which to plan a weekend full of off-road high jinks. The trails are generally unmaintained, which is a plus for any drivers looking for downed trees, deep ruts and other challenges to tackle. There’s even an old fire tower at the end of one route, offering the perfect photo op to cap off a day of off-the-grid adventure. The network of trails includes plenty of water crossings, steep drop-offs, and other obstacles, and once you’ve tackled all Prairie Creek has to offer, other routes like Skunk Creek are just a short ride away.

Ruby Falls

For those seeking something a little further afield, Ruby Falls is a must-see. Located some 300 km west of Edmonton, the trail towers to an elevation of over 1,935 meters, providing a real challenge for off-roaders of every skill level. Over the course of the 50-plus-km trail, drivers will experience everything from grassy fields to rock, mud and gravel. As the name suggests, things can get wet on the Ruby Falls trail, which includes numerous river crossings. Drivers looking to hone their winching skills will have plenty of opportunities once they hit some of the trail’s rockier sections, though these are easy enough to avoid if you’re driving a stock Cherokee Trailhawk. If you’re looking to tackle the Ruby Falls trail, it’s important to set plenty of time aside, as the 50 km route can easily eat up the whole day, especially if you plan on including the adjacent Southesk Trail as part of the excursion.

A blue 2023 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is shown driving through the snow.

McLean Creek

Located just one hour west of Calgary, McLean Creek is one of the most popular off-roading destinations in the province. Designated as an Off-Highway Vehicle Public Land Use Zone (PLUZ), McLean Creek stretches across 202 square kilometres on the eastern edge of Kananaskis Country. The expansive PLUZ is home to 10 distinct peaks, with Quirk Ridge topping out the lot at an elevation of 1,945 meters. McClean Creek is one of Kananaskis Country’s four PLUZs, but it’s the only one that allows for the use of off-road vehicles. However, it should be noted that only vehicles weighing less than 454 kg are allowed between December 1 and April 30.

The McLean Creek area is a veritable off-roader’s playground, with multiple trails offering a range of experiences and difficulty levels. Routes like the Elbow Valley Trail and Fisher Creek East draw their fair share of drivers, but for those seeking a real challenge, the Top of the World trail is the go-to choice. While relatively short at just 8.5 km, the trail climbs over 300 meters, which means plenty of steep drops, challenging climbs and a view that, as the name suggests, can’t be beat. However, the out-and-back is not recommended for beginners––or anyone overly concerned about their paint job––as it features plenty of narrow, rock-strewn passages that require an experienced off-road driver behind the wheel.

Before You Go…

As fun as it is to test your limits, it’s important to keep some basic safety tips in mind, especially if you’re new to the world of off-roading. Remember to always let someone know where you’re headed and when you expect to be back––or better yet, go in a group. If you’re new to the hobby, consider bringing a more experienced driver along for the ride to give you advice. Always tie down important equipment and, as they say at amusement parks, keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.

Whether you’re well-versed in the world of winches and recovery straps or stepping behind the wheel of a four-wheel drive vehicle for the first time, Alberta offers destinations to fit any skill level. From leisurely overlanding to strenuous rock crawling, mudding and more, the province’s dramatic terrain and challenging conditions are perfectly suited for off-road excursions. The Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is the perfect companion for your next off-road trip, no matter what your skill level might be. Well-equipped even in its stock form, this model provides the perfect base from which you can build the off-road beast of your dreams. With a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk by your side, Alberta’s wealth of natural wonders is yours for the taking.

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