Following the Old Macleod Trail

Say “Macleod Trail” to someone in Alberta, and most people will immediately think of the busy commercial strip on the south side of Calgary.  Fewer people will think of the Macleod Trails which are located in a number of smaller communities such as High River.  Ever fewer will think of the original Macleod Trail which was the pathway from Fort Benton, Montana through to Fort Calgary in the 1870’s.

There is a wonderful article detailing the history of this trail and the markers which show the way here:

It is through the efforts of the volunteers like Bill Dunn of Cayley, AB that I was able to take a “creative” route down to Lethbridge last weekend when visiting friends and family.

Starting in De Winton, I headed south through the towns of Okotoks and High River before getting out into the more rural markers.  Staying to the west of Highway 2, I picked my way along mostly gravel roads, with the next marker’s coordinates entered into my Nuvi.  I would pass a grain elevator (and see the ones in Nanton off in the distance), abandoned barns and homesteads, the Pine Coulee reservoir, and even the occasional car.

The outcome of that trip is a photo essay which shows the Alberta prairies in all their Spring splendor.  While I would run out of sunlight before getting to see all the markers, that just means there is another adventure waiting for another trip.  This trip only covered the markers I found between De Winton and Claresholm.

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9 Responses to Following the Old Macleod Trail

  1. I didn’t know about these…Thanks Dan-O-Can!


  2. Dan, good job, I’ve never heard of this. It’s really hard to tell old MacLeod Trail from current MacLeod Trail. It’s like it hardly changed!


  3. Bill Dunn --- Macleod Trail historian says:

    Great work Danocan. Glad to hear someone is using the GPS to discover something dating back to the days in the west of 1870’s ans 1880’s. The early history of the old Macleod Trail is one of Alberta’s best kept secrets! Wonderful photos by the way!!!!


  4. Jennifer says:

    Can you point me in the direction of the GPS coordinates? I’m not having luck finding them. Thanks


    • danocan says:

      Sure thing. If you are a member of, there is a series of caches called “Old Macleod Trail”, with #1 being in Fort Macleod and #18 being at the south end of Calgary. Check out these listings: and


      • Jennifer says:

        Thank you so much!

        I’d like to drive the route soon. Hopefully the local landowners won’t be upset with cars pulling over for photos!


    • Bill Dunn [historian] says:

      Hello Jennifer
      The Museum of the Highwood in High River has handout brochures containing a brief history of the Old Macleod Trail and a list of GPS co-ordinates for all 18 markers. Have no worries regarding landowners telling you to get out as all markers are situated on roadsides between the public and private lands. If you have more questions please feel free to contact me at my e-mail address.
      Best regards, Bill Dunn


  5. Bill Dunn [historian] says:

    Hope you find the markers Jennifer.


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