Named after one of the first white settlers of Medicine Hat, the McCutcheon trail follows the McCutcheon Drive hills and showcases the areas dry, native grasslands. The trail ends at the lookout over the wetlands, revealing the contrasts within our environment.
A. Observation Deck
From the deck view you can see nature and history including CP Rail, St. Patrick’s Church, and Riverside.
B. Native Grasses
Native grasses and flowers. An “endless” variety of species to discover growing on these south facing slopes.
- Grasses. The Needle and Thread Grasses have papery whitish flag leaves. They drill their seeds into the soil to establish new plants.
- Wildflowers. Annual Sunflowers add splashes of yellow across a dormant landscape In late summer.Wildflowers include Yellow Umbrella plants. Indigenous peoples mashed their roots for earplugs.
- Cacti. The Pin Cushion cactus has berries. Without the spines, they are edible and sweet.
Needle and Thread Grass
Yellow Umbrella Plant
Pin Cushion Cactus
C. Wetland Plants
Wetland (riparian) plants like Cattail are found in several hlllslde springs along the McCutcheon hillsides. The young female flowers can be boiled and eaten like corn on the cob.
Native grasslands and riparian areas provide important wildlife habitats, cover and food for a variety of wildllfe species, including song birds like Red-winged Blackbirds and Western Meadowlarks. Healthy
nature provides biodiversity.
Western Meadowlark – Photo by Dwayne Meyers
McCutcheon Dr, and McCutcheon Place were named after early pioneer Robert McCutcheon*, known colloquially as “one of the first white settlers in Medicine Hat”. He was in the NWMP, and vice-president and founding member of the Agricultural Society in 1887. Born in Cornwall, ON he was first stationed as a Mountie in Fort MacLeod, and then was transferred to and helped build Fort Walsh. He was also known as the first Canadian official to greet Indigenous leader Sitting Bull on Canadian soil. He lived a long life, and died in 1943 at the age of 90.
This scenic view follows a very long trail and starts at Division Avenue North and goes west along the upper breaks of the McCutcheon Drive hills and continues north to the west end of 12 Street NW. This scenic view show cases the dry, native grassland hills and patches of woody plants overlooking areas of the North Flats, St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Downtown, NW Riverside, CP Rail Mainline, South Saskatchewan River, River Heights and Harlow, SE and SW Hill, our Regional Hospital.
Native grasses such as needle and thread, June grass, Blue grama grass, prickly pear cactus and cushion or ball cactus, and pussy-toes can be found. Semi-arid grasslands such as these are important wildlife habitats for grassland song birds such a variety of sparrow species and meadowlarks.
Towards the east end of McCutcheon trail, there is a view point deck where wetlands provide conditions suitable for moisture-loving cattails and grasslike plants, and woodies like chokecherry, Saskatoon and deciduous trees.
If one wants to venture further, at the far end of the trail there is a staircase up that will lead you to Division Avenue and onto the Jeffries Trail Scenic View. Or you can take the staircase down and with a
walkway over the CP Rail Tracks to Riverside and beyond over Finlay Bridge to downtown Medicine Hat.
- All photos by Len Moser except where indicated otherwise.
- McCutcheon name history information kindly provided by Jennifer Barrientos B.A., Assistant Archivist, Cultural Development, City of Medicine Hat.