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Stage 537 – Toad River to McDonald Creek

Stage 537 could lay claim to being a high altitude rollercoaster, and as there’s fifty percent more descending than there is climbing, it certainly justifies the fun tag. But there’s also enough ascent to keep you honest so all in all it’s a stage with a bit of everything, but fun is certainly near the top of the list. It runs east through the eastern Rockies, and a quick zoom out on the map suggests that calmer days are on the horizon, but you’re not there yet.

The rollout is lumpy for three miles following the southern bank of the Toad River as it flows east. The Alaska Highway skips over the hill as the river meanders north in that early segment but as the road comes back down to meet the river, so it descends (lumpily) from miles three to six. It’s then lumpy flat to nine miles, taking in a right/left combo in the process, before the road climbs to eleven miles as the river snakes its way east half a mile to the north: the road is effectively taking a short cut over the hill.

But as the river meanders its was back south, the road dives to meet it, losing over two hundred feet in just over a mile to twelve miles. And that’s basically it for the Toad River because as it swings north east towards the Toad River Hotsprings Provincial Park, Route 97 heads south east past Mile 422 Airport at the Toad River Lodge, and onward downhill to cross the Racing River at seventeen miles. Once over the river, the road hangs a left on a sweeping bend at the foot of the mountain that dominates the course of the water on both its east and west flanks.

However Route 97 carries on south on the other side of the mountain, but it has to get there first and that means a detour around the northern side of the hill: hence the left turn off the bridge. The stage ends on a flood plain, halfway round the loop that will deliver the road to McDonald Creek at the start of stage 538 as it heads further south and east towards Alberta. The profile off the bridge is all downhill to within a mile of the finish but sadly the road kicks upward again on the approach to the line.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 620 feet / 189 metres

RGT Magic Road: OHz67k5flrHw

Total distance: 20.88 mi
Max elevation: 2549 ft
Min elevation: 2206 ft
Total climbing: 554 ft
Total descent: -793 ft

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