Stoney Trail - Kananaskis Country - Hiking Alberta

 

Stoney Trail is a historical trail between river and mountains in north Kananaskis Country, Alberta.

 

 

Stoney Trail follows the west shore of Barrier Lake and the Kananaskis River.  The trail can be easily accessed off Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40) at the Barrier Lake exit just south of the Barrier Lake Information Centre.  This hike begins by walking west across the top of the Barrier Dam and locating the trail junction a short distance past the second set of power lines.

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Baldy across Barrier Lake from Barrier Dam

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Crossing Barrier Dam is typically in a stiff breeze with amazing views of Mount Baldy looming above to the east and multiple mountains at the south end of Barrier Lake.  The Kananaskis River continues through a dramatic canyon at the outlet of the Barrier Dam interruption.  As the hike continues the short distance west to approach the Stoney Trail junction, McConnell Ridge commands the view in front to the west.

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Hiking towards McConnell Ridge past the west end of Barrier Dam

 

Stoney Trail travels a long distance south along the west shore of Barrier Lake and the Kananaskis River to Ribbon Creek at Kananaskis Village.  This would be the direction to access the trail along Jewell Creek to Jewell Falls and on over Jewell Pass through Quaite Creek and Valley around Heart Mountain.  On this day the hike proceeds via signs to the short section of Stoney Trail which heads north-east past the intersection of the trail junction leading to Barrier Lake Fire Lookout at the top of the north end of McConnell Ridge.  The posted trail map is helpful.

 

Trail map of the immediate area north of Barrier Dam

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Stoney Trail looking north near the junction on the left to Barrier Lake Lookout.

 

Along the trail which is still partially iced, and through predominantly spring forest, there is a bear skin pelt hanging from a branch at trail side.  Unusual.

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A hanging, cured pelt at trailside along Stoney Trail heading north

 

The trail is straight and uneventful with long advance views.  Slight variations in topography create sections of water and ice in the dips.  About half way along the 3.4 KM (2⅛ mile) one-way section to the 'Y', the hike through forest opens into a large field to the right.

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A large field interrupts the forest tunnel along Stoney Trail - Mount Baldy in the background

 

Past the field, more straight, flat trail through dense forest leads to a gentle decline in dense forest, mainly on icy trail, to a 'Y' junction.  The branch right, to the east, leads to a 4.8 KM (3 mile) hike to the Rafter Six Ranch Resort across from Exshaw, Alberta, and the left fork leads to the infamous Rocky Mountain YMCA Camp.

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The 'Y' junction at the north end of Stoney Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta

 

Following an excellent lunch in the sun, the hike begins via the same route taken in.

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Stoney Trail returning south via the same route - typical spring trail conditions

 

At the big field, there are old structures at the far side  to check them out.  The field is covered with deer poop.

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Back at the field, time to wander for a closer look.

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Deer poop - hiking poles provide scale.

 

There is an access road beneath nearby power lines which will reduce the return time and distance with the bonus of a new perspective.  Alternate course and new views are usually always appealing over the same route taken in.

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Picnic tables, a fire pit and a conversation area

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view hiking under the power lines.

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The choice is a good one and the return to Barrier Lake proceeds more quickly on wide, dry, access road beneath the power lines.  Back at Barrier Dam the views across the lake and into the dam outlet canyon are breathtaking. 

The brisk breeze of two hours ago has become a substantial, sustained wind.  When the wind gusts, holding the camera steady becomes impossible and the stiff wind takes the breath away.  Getting a five-year supply of fresh air every minute is exhilarating in the sun.

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Returning to cross Barrier Dam

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The canyon on the north side of Barrier Dam where Kananaskis River begins again.

 

Stoney Trail - Barrier Lake - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A snow sculptured ridge created by strong winds across Barrier Lake and shelter from Barrier Dam

 

The afternoon on Stoney Trail, following a short morning hike from Lusk Creek in the morning, has been another great day of enjoying hiking on easily accessible spring trails in Kananaskis Country, Alberta.

 

 

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Comments

Thanks for your comment, Leigh. Stoney Trail is a straight path to the west of the Kananaskis River. A lot of it is road and the trail extends to Kananaskis Village in the south so there is lots of room for options.

Looks like a nice hike to do when you don't have a lot of time but you still want to get out and get a taste of the mountains.

I can only speculate, Helen. The animals are rigidly protected. Perhaps the pelt belongs to an animal that died of natural causes or was a victim of conflict with another animal. I have no idea of the source. It has probably startled a number of hikers, and may be from another area completely, and put there as a prank. I do not know. I like to assume the best but your comment has made me think I might have been wise to remove the pelt and deliver it to the Rangers Office. I have called to inform them of its existence and they will know what is the best action to take. Thanks for your comment, Helen. It is not even remotely usual to see this. I apologize for appearing blasé about it. It seemed very curious to me.

Another beautiful hike. You appeared not surprised by the bear pelt. I thought they would have been protected. Why would it have been left there to cure and not taken home?

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