Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country – Hiking Alberta

 

Old Goat Glacier is a favorite hike west of Three Sisters in Kananaskis Country, Alberta.

 

 

Hiking specs for Old Goat Glacier are: 

  • Round trip hiking distance:  approx 5 kilometers (3¼ miles)
  • Maximum elevation:  7,710 ft (2,350 m)
  • Elevation gain:  2,116 ft (645 m)

 

Driving west in early morning rain, the target for the day is Old Goat Glacier, a few kilometers south of Canmore, Alberta, Canada along the Smith-Dorrien Trail

Past Dead Man's Flats, the skies begin to open up over mist-enshrouded mountains and sagging spirits soar.  Once again God has created a sunny space as She has done so many times in the past.  The mixture of weather warrants photos of mountain views from the TransCanada Highway, and of reflections on Goat Pond while heading south from Canmore on the muddy Smith-Dorrien Trail (Hwy 742).

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Skies are opening up - The Sun will clear fog from the mountains

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Calgary storms are clearing over the mountains on the approach to Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The mist is magic as it rises off the front range of the Rocky Mountains

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mystic mountains past Goat Pond south of Canmore, Alberta, Canada

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Goat Pond at the bridge travelling south on Smith-Dorrien Trail

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Reflections on Goat Pond beside the Smith-Dorrien Trail

 

The trail-head is on the west shore of Spray Lake about one kilometer (⅝ miles) south of the left turn on the far side of Three Sisters Dam.  Watch carefully on the right of the West Side Road for a short turn into an old gravel pit.  The parking area is above where Old Goat Creek enters Spray Lake and a trail heads up over the small ridge to link into the trail along the creek. The trail beside Old Goat Creek far exceeds expectations and within an hour, refreshment is being enjoyed at the base of very beautiful Old Goat Falls.

 

 

Another hour of steep trail ascends through talus and scree to arrive at the lateral moraine for the hike along the top past polished valley walls created by thousands of years of receding glacial ice.  

Old Goat Glacier is at the western edge of Kananaskis CountryBanff National Park is on the other side of Old Goat Mountain.

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Hiking from the waterfall to the lateral moraine created by Old Goat Glacier

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Hiking the top of the lateral moraine to Old Goat Glacier

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Beautiful flowers in the scree of the lateral moraine

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Approaching the foot of Old Goat Glacier - lots of water running

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mist rolling into the valley above the waterfall at the opposite end from the glacier

 

Photos are taken looking up and down the length of the terminal moraines which contain what little remains of Old Goat Glacier.  Marmot observes the consumption of lunch as mist drifts into the valley. 

Old Goat Glacier is a mysterious and peaceful place.  Hiking solo prevents exploring the surface of the glacier.  To do so, without a hiking partner and the proper gear, would be foolish and potentially dangerous.

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Lunch companion 'Marmot'

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Old Goat Glacier, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The return hike follows the same route used for access.  Old Goat Glacier is a wonderful short hike through a wide variety of terrain with many spectacular features.

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Fragile plants growing in hostile terrain

 

 

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Artistic images created in nature on the boundaries of water and soil

 

 

On the drive home to Calgary, Alberta, Canada a short drive further south on the Smith-Dorrien Trail allows a photograph to be taken across Spray Lake of the location for the basin in which the Old Goat Glacier resides.  The waterfall reveals the location.

 

Old Goat Glacier – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A view across Spray Lake at the location of the waterfall and Old Goat Glacier

 

The low ceilings and drifting cloud add an aura of mystique and beauty throughout the day.  Even when inclement weather seems like a deterrent, it can become a benefit, if the decision is made to continue.

Note:  Access to Old Goat Glacier was substantially altered by the June 2013 floods.  Consult a more current post.  Check in at a Parks Visitor Center.

 

 

 

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Comments

Thank you for your kind words, Silva! I can tell you share my passion for the wilderness. Old Goat Glacier is a great hike anytime and within your reach using Rawson Lake and Mount Indefatigable as references. July 22 - 24. Snow should be out of the way. There is a short scree riser onto the lateral moraine but from there the the hike is easy navigation over flat scree on top of the moraine towards what little remains of the actual glacier. It is a beautiful place and one of my favorite hikes. I tend to ignore the weather forecasts and hike prepared for anything. I carry a small collapsible umbrella in my pack and find this handles nearly all wet weather. Weather can be very unpredictable, fickle and can change in minutes. There is a lot of water running, later than usual, which deserves respect. If you are staying at the Delta, you are close to Galatea and may want to consider Lillian Lake with an option to continue on to Lower and Upper Galatea Lakes. On the same trail the side hike to Guinn's Pass offers a challenging route to spectacular views. Also, you are close to Ribbon Creek, so the hike to Ribbon Falls is a nice day. Coal Mine Scar offers good views over Kananaskis Valley. Short loop hikes at Wedge Pond and/or Eau Claire Loop Trail are pleasant and easy walks. Please consult a good hiking guide and take a map to identify features on your hikes. I believe it is always important someone knows where you are going and when you expect to be back at the latest. All the best and stay safe. Have a wonderful time. Wishing you fair weather.

Hi Barry, First off, thank you for recording all of your hikes and adventures in such vivid and captivating detail. I have spent the past couple weeks reading through all of your posts in preparation for my 5th return to K-Country - it has been my favorite place on earth for the past 8 years. I will be in Kananaskis from July 22-24 and am planning on hiking Old Goat Glacier with my boyfriend. I am a somewhat experienced hiker with hikes such as Indefatigable and Rawson Lake under my belt and my boyfriend, while not a hiker, is in great physical condition from playing soccer 2-3 times a week. I am curious if you think Old Goat is a good choice for us? I am also slightly worried about the rain they are forecasting for those dates and how it might affect the difficulty of the hike - wet scree seems like it might pose a challenge.. But I'm game for a challenge as long as it does not pose a danger. Are there any other hikes you would suggest we add to our itinerary? I'm definitely looking forward to filling my 3 days in paradise with as much nature and fresh air as possible! We are staying at the Delta as it has been a family favorite for years as well. Thank you again for the amazing blog and all the inspiration and knowledge you have imparted. Over the past few weeks you have truly become my hiking role model. Perhaps once I finally move back to Calgary and am able to frequent the mountains much more often we will run into each other on the trail. Cheers and all the best!

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