Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country - Hiking Alberta

 

Baldy Pass is a popular classic in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.

 

 

Baldy Pass is a popular, classic, day hike with lots to offer.  The one-way distance to Baldy Pass is 4 KM (2½ miles) with an elevation gain near 575 m (1,886 ft).  The pass stands at 1,990 m (6,529 ft), however, there is an opportunity to increase distance and elevation, to achieve substantially enhanced reward.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The parking area, south past the end of Barrier Lake and picturesque O'Shaughnessy Falls, is shared with access to the Porcupine Group CampOld Baldy Mountain looms above to the east.  The trail-head is on the other (east) side of Kananaskis Trail.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The initially gentle trail proceeds through forestto a T-intersection and a trail sign. Take a moment to enjoy the view of Mount Lorette, framed in the cut line to the right, then turn left on an old fire road.  Following the right hand branch leads south to Wasootch Creek.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The trail remains relatively flat but the gravel surface changes to loose rock created by the gradual disintegration of an unnamed ridge to the south of Baldy Pass.  The terrain makes a good case for wearing appropriate footwear.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Looking back at the Nakiska ski hills on Mount Allan in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The trail meanders over and around the dry, rocky, riverbed surface as the valley continues to narrow into wonderful views on either side.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view south, on the Baldy Pass Trail, to the source of the rocky riverbed

 

As the trail begins to gain well-graded elevation, patches of snow and ice begin to appear in more sheltered spots along the trail.  These snow mounds become more substantial as elevation increases and occasionally encounters the remnants of winter avalanche activity.  There are none which are difficult to handle.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Views of 2,192 m (7,192 ft) Old Baldy Mountain begin to open up on the far side of the valley.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Arrival at Baldy Pass presents views badly compromised by maturing evergreen forest.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The solution to this constricted view is a short hike to the right, up a well-traveled rocky slope, towards higher points and the unnamed ridge above to the south.  The scope of the vistas opens up dramatically and swiftly as the extra elevation is easily gained.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Climb a bit and take the time at each plateau to absorb the view before proceeding higher.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

A plateau with large pockets of deeper snow in sheltered areas, begins to compromise forward progress.  In a beautiful open area, the pack is pulled and damp laundry is hung over tree branches to dry while lunch is enjoyed in the warmth of the sun, perfectly balanced by a gentle, cool breeze.  The view is spectacular.  It is quiet and peaceful.  Wandering for a bit to scout access to climb to the higher point finds nothing free of snow, but that is OK.  The magic of the mountains have mellowed the intent to proceed.

There is little sense in gaining the rocky knoll above me without completing the climb to the top of the ridge.  The view from the top would be clearly outstanding.  Another day.  Mountains are dependable.  They stay where they are.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The rocky knoll above on the route to the top of the ridge - too much snow

 

Following a thoroughly satisfying lunch in paradise, the return hike proceeds by approximately the same route.  There is a labyrinth of trail option from the crowds of people who have been here in days, weeks and years past. 

Cairns dot the down route.  Some are very creative.  Hiking alone always makes it special to commune with nature, one on one.  Not everyone would agree.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

On the way back to the car, some of the images from the morning are repeated in afternoon light on this ideal day for hiking.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Lorette in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Emerging from the forest at the trail-head, new spring-green leaves glow in the sun at the dawn of a new, summer season.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The following map of the Baldy Pass trail shows the entire loop for this popular, 20.2 KM (12⅝ mile) mountain bike circuit which usually begins from the Colonel's Cabin parking area at the University of Calgary Field Station

In the Rocky Mountain Books, 'Backcountry Biking in the Canadian Rockies' the ride rates as moderate/advanced.

 

Baldy Pass - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

There is still time left in the day before the return to Calgary and Porcupine Creek is just a short distance south on Kananaskis Trail.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Thanks for your comment, Leigh. If you choose to tackle Baldy Pass from the Lusk Creek day use area or Colonel's Cabin (north side of Baldy Pass, you may need gaiters and snowshoes in mid June. The Kananaskis Trail approach should be virtually clear by then if the season proceeds normally. There are hikers, like myself, who report into Barrier Visitor Centre with current conditions so they can advise others of current conditions. Enjoy a great hike. By then you may be able to get on the ridge to the south of Baldy Pass.

Barry - I have yet to do this hike and will probably wait until mid June to give it a try - maybe even bring snowshoes. What a glorious sounding day and such a treat when you have the mountain to yourself.

Thank you, Laurel. There is something special about the spring season. There are bright colors and landscapes of new growth. Everything is extra fresh, the sound of running water and remnants of winter add contrast to the beginning of a new hiking season. Thanks for your comment, Laurel.

Great photos, I enjoyed this hike when I did it. I always think having mountains to myself is special as well, I love days like that.

Thanks for your blog, Barry. I am a 'born again' hiker and appreciate the guidance and information. My friend and I did Baldy Pass April 28th for the first time. It was just as your blog depicted. Not sure how much change there is due to the 2013 flood as some parts were pretty rough. We didn't make the top as the trail got very icy but we will be back. Being mid-week, we had the trail to ourselves. I will continue to check in with your blog. Doing Paskapoo Slopes next.

Thanks for the trail condition update, Dorothy.  The trail will certainly have been altered by June 13 floods. Happy trails.  Glad you are out there again.  The 2015 hiking season will likely be longer than last years truncated season.  Stay safe.

Thanks for your blog, Barry. Myself and several "new" hikers have been following your advice for a lot of different hikes in different areas around Canmore. Fun thing is most of them are not Canadians, and they can't believe how amazing and different the hikes are in the Rockies. It always makes me feel good when I look at their faces when we get to the end of the trails.

Glad to hear all is going well, David.  Thanks for your comment.

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