Eau Claire Trail explores river channels in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
Parking is an issue for this trail.
Hiking is planned this day in the area of 2,958 m (9,704 ft) Mount Kidd, named in 1907, for Fred Kidd, by geologist Dr. D. Bogart Dowling of the Geological Survey of Canada. Fred's love for the mountains persuaded him to move, from his homestead near Nose Hill, to Morley, where he operated the Scott and Leeson Trading Post and served as Justice of the Peace. Part of his endeavor was outfitting survey parties working in the Kananaskis Valley.
One of these was led by a geologist, D. Bogart Dowling. Mount Bogart is nearby. The drive south on Kananaskis Trail exits towards Nakiska Ski Resort with a brief stop near the bridge over Kananaskis River to take photographs of Mount Kidd in early daylight. The Kananaskis River is running high in late spring runoff.
Further south on Kananaskis Trail, past the Mount Kidd R.V. Park, a stop at Wedge Pond obtains a photograph of 'The Wedge' before continuing south past the Galatea Day Use Area where trail-heads branch out to Lillian Lake, Upper and Lower Galatea Lakes, as well as Guinn's Pass and beyond.
A turn right off Kananaskis Trail into Eau Claire Campground is followed by a drive 3/4 of the way around the one-way road past secluded campsites. The trail-head for the Eau Claire Interpretive Loop is obvious but there is no dedicated parking. An unobtrusive spot between empty Campsites # 48 and 49 is chosen to park the car in early season, during the week, when the campground is nearly vacant. Parking is an issue. The parking alternative on a busy day might mean parking near the entrance to the campground and hiking to the trail head. Check with the campground administrator.
The trail begins past the front of the marquee providing insight into the historical legacy of the flat, 1.5 KM (⅞ mile) Eau Claire Trail, south of Mount Kidd and adjacent to former and current routes of the Kananaskis River.
There are no trail brochures at the trail-head for each of the 11 markers along the trail. An Eau Claire Interpretive Trail Brochure may be available online. The following photos, taken on the short, easy path, will illustrate the lush, mossy forest beside the Kananskis River and views of surrounding mountains.
The forest trail is cool and lush. Surrounding ground cover is rich with moss and damp wood which gives the short hike an intoxicating, natural aroma in a full sensory experience where relaxation comes easily.
A solitary bench, about halfway around the loop, is a place to pause and enjoy the water flow and mountain scenery. The river is high and erosion against river banks is undercutting the edge. A short distance past the bench, the trail loop migrates away from the Kananaskis River.
Bridges over the damp areas of the old river path make navigation easy and comfortable.
The historical river path is evident, easy to see, and difficult to effectively photograph.
As the short trail completes, a large unnamed mountain provides a dramatic exit from the forest.
The Eau Claire Trail is shown on the Gem Trek map as wheel chair accessible. There are a couple of spots where this might be open to debate. Checking in at the Eau Claire Campground Manager's site for clarification might be wise.
Otherwise, this is a beautiful, short, easy hike nearly anyone can do and a pleasant way to begin the day prior to my primary, planned event which will be hiking from Kananaskis Village to the abandoned Mount Kidd Fire Lookout.