Ford Knolls occupy the east flank of Nihahi Ridge in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
The hike around and over the first Ford Knoll is a very popular, easily accessible 5 KM (3⅛ mile) loop hike near the end of Hwy 66, and across the road from beautiful Forget-Me-Not Pond. Elevation gain is estimated at 230 m (755 ft).
At the trail-head the decision is made to tackle the trail in a counterclockwise direction which will make the ascent predominately through forest and the descent, on the other side of the knoll, very scenic on more open ground, with fabulous views of surrounding mountains. Along the trail, up to and over the top of the first Ford Knoll, there are a series of cairns.
There are at least nine Ford Knolls stretched along the Ford Creek Trail wedged between Powderface Trail (the road) and 12 KM (7½ mile) Nihahi Ridge. The Ford Creek Trail is moderately strenuous with major undulating elevation and will be saved for the future. Passing over the top of the knoll begins the descent of the other side of the knoll and views begin to substantially expand.
Nihahi Ridge is an excellent hike. There are several options for a broad range of distance, elevation and degree of difficulty varying from low-moderate to very difficult.
Good fortune notices a prairie chicken off to the side of the trail and several minutes are taken to watch her and her nearly adult brood of chicks scurrying about nearby in the underbrush. She seems quite comfortable and allows getting very close for photographs.
There are a labyrinth of trails and junctions in this very popular area so it is important to examine markers at each trail junction.
Descent into the valley provides plenty of lush shrubbery and berry bushes and the opportunity to practice bear awareness skills by making plenty of noise before blind corners. Any bear in the area will move on long before we arrive. Berry bushes are a major food source for bears, so when we see berries, we automatically think 'bears', and employ bear awareness skills.
Arrival at a creek reveals an old wooden culvert. These have not been used for decades. Crossing the easy way by stepping on logs and over the culvert the hike proceeds off-trail upstream to find a spot to jump over the creek.
Final mountain views are enjoyed before making the traverse parallel to the road and back to the trail-head where we began.
This great hiking day has demonstrated excellent route finding and hiking skills, and a true appreciation for the beauty of nature.
The return to Calgary is accompanied by good feelings after plenty of exercise and fresh mountain air.