On this day, I am hiking 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 the 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. As I drive south on Kananaskis Trail, I exit towards Nakiska Ski Resort and stop near the bridge over Kananaskis River to take photographs of Mount Kidd in the early daylight. The Kananaskis River is running high in late spring runoff.
A few kilometres further south, I stop again on Kananaskis Trail to take pictures of Mount Kidd across from the legendary and historical Boundary Ranch.
Further south on Kananaskis Trail, past the Mount Kidd R.V. Park, I stop at Wedge Pond for a photograph of ‘The Wedge’ before continuing south past the Galatea Day Use Area where trailheads branch out to Lillian Lake, Upper and Lower Galatea Lakes, as well as Guinn’s Pass and beyond.
I turn right off Kananaskis Trail into Eau Claire Campground and drive 3/4 of the one-way road past secluded campsites. The trailhead for the Eau Claire Interpretive Loop is obvious but there is no dedicated parking. I find an unobtrusive spot between Campsites # 48 and 49 to park the car. It is early season, during the week, and the campground is nearly vacant.
The trail begins past the front of the marquee providing insight into the historical legacy of the flat, 1.5 KM (0.9 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 trailhead but the following link will provide text for each of the 11 markers along the trail. Eau Claire Interpretive Trail Brochure 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. It is a full sensory experience and 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 my Gem Trek map as wheel chair accessible. There are a couple of spots where I am not sure about this. It is wise to check in at the Eau Claire Campground Manager’s site for clarification. Otherwise, this is a beautiful, short, easy hike nearly anyone can do. It is 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.