Mount Kidd Lookout - Kananaskis Country - Hiking Alberta

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout provides spectacular views in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.

 

 

The trail to the abandoned Mount Kidd Lookout begins in Kananaskis Village near  the south end of Delta Lodge at Kananaskis.  Following the very pleasant and relaxing hike around the short, easy Eau Claire Trail, the drive north on Kananaskis Trail turns west on Mt. Allan Drive towards Nakiska Mountain Resort to cross the bridge over the fast-flowing Kananaskis River with landmark Mount Kidd clearly obvious front left.

 

 

A left turn onto Centennial Drive, and a drive up the hill leads to a right turn onto Terrace Drive to the public parking area for Mount Kidd Manor.  The day is sunny and warm with predominantly clear skies.  Many people are enjoying the facilities of this world-class, up-scale accommodation isolated in breathtaking, mountain wilderness.  A great day can be had wandering the property on flat and plentiful lodge trails to simply enjoy the relaxing mountain and valley views.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The initial left turn onto paved Terrace Trail South from Delta Lodge at Kananaskis to meet the Kovach Trail Junction.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada 

 

The view south from Terrace Trail is spectacular.  At a clearly signed junction, continuing on Terrace Trail South requires a right turn onto good, wide gravel road into forest where clematis-like vines with flowers drape trail-side trees for a beautiful spring display.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The Terrace Trail South in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

At the next trail decision, the required Kovach Trail veers to the right, and on the left the Terrace Trail continues south 6.5 KM (4⅛ miles) to link with the Galatea area trails.  The Kovach Trail switchbacks up a moderate grade on excellent, wide road over the east side of Mount Kidd's north ridge.  There is a lot of water running and several times the Kovach Trail is wet and/or muddy.  Gravel surface migrates to an even more pleasant grass surface as the hike continues to gain moderate elevation.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Terrace Trail South continues to Galatea.  The Kovach Trail begins to the right.

 

The Kovach Trail arrives at a junction with Aspen Trail to the right.  The hike proceeds on the left branch Kovach Trail and continues to gain elevation on switchbacks.  Spring runoff, flowing across the Kovach Trail, increases.  The hiking boots handle the water and mud without issue.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Wet trail conditions are evident at the approach to the Aspen Trail - keep left.

 

The next turn will be left onto the trail which will proceed directly to the Mount Kidd Lookout.  The trail is not a maintained trail so careful scanning is underway of the left side of the Kovach Trail as the hike proceeds.  Initially the little waterfall on the left at roadside is discounted along with  the stream feeding it, but a cairn of rocks beneath the branch of a tree catches the eye and suggests the stream is the trail-head.  The trail-head would have been very easy to miss.  Careful attention to distance on the map will be helpful.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The trailhead to Mount Kidd Lookout is a creek and waterfall. Notice the cairn on photo left. Easy to miss.

 

The first half kilometer (¹⁄₃ mile) is wet and the rate of elevation gain increases. A young buck tries to hide behind a branch as I pass in relatively close proximity and I pretend to not see him.  We need to work together on these things.  Views begin to expand as the forest thins and the trail continues to gain elevation more aggressively.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

After exiting the forest, the trail travels straight up the steep, grassy, east side of Mount Kidd's north ridge.  The grade is steep and humbling requiring consistent maintenance of a positive attitude.  To prevent the heart from exploding, it is necessary to periodically pause and enjoy the expanding views to the north where Mount Lorette dominates other peaks all the way to Barrier Lake.  

Directly below is the Delta Lodge and to the south-east is the Kananaskis Golf Course.  There are clear views of Kananaskis Trail and the Kananaskis River passing through the bottom of Kananaskis Valley.  The views are impressive and, following a brief pause, motivate gaining additional elevation.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Expanding views toward the north of Kananaskis Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Expanding views toward the mountains on the east of Kananaskis Valley.  Starting point at Delta Lodge is directly below.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Expanding views toward the south of Kananaskis Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The steep trail leads to a spruce and pine forest towards the top of the ridge which harbors mounds of snow.  Mercifully the grade is reduced as the trail leads diagonally to achieve the top of the ridge and intercept the concrete foundations of the abandoned Mount Kidd Lookout.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Following are a few photos and a 360 degree video taken at the site of the abandoned fire lookout on top of the north ridge of Mount Kidd.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 


 

Click here to enjoy a video captured from Mount Kidd Lookout in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 


 

Perhaps, the highlight of this particular visit, as the spring runoff is fully underway, is the amplified sound of running water from the bowl to the west.  Coal Mine Scar is clearly on Mount Allan, and snow-capped mountains are breathtakingly beautiful, but the sound of hundreds of waterfalls combined with gentle breeze creates a powerful natural ambiance.  The effort to get up here was well worth the time and effort.

The trip down is easier and faster than expected.  Delta Lodge is the gauge of progress and the car is visible in the parking area as the hike descends carefully down the steep grassy slope and back through the forest to Kovach Trail.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Back at the junction of the Kovach Trail a few minutes are taken to relax in the sun while collecting a few stones to build another trail-head cairn on the opposite side.  This will make the trail-head more obvious and those who follow may choose to add a stone or two.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The exit from the forest onto the paved portion of Terrace Trail offers outstanding mountain views looming above the Delta Lodge.

 

Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Kidd Fire Lookout - Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The Mount Kidd Lookout trail is 3.1 KM (1⅞ miles) from Kananaskis Village.  It seems longer.  The elevation gain is 579 m (1,900 ft).  It seems like more.  The trail is all up or all down so net and gross elevation gain are the same.  The significant majority of the gain is from Kovach Trail to the top of the north ridge of Mount Kidd.  Characteristic of any fire lookout, the sweeping vistas easily justify the effort.  Maximum elevation achieved is 2,105 m (6,905 ft).

The Mount Kidd Fire Lookout had relatively short and interesting history which is well documented in the book 'Fire Lookout Hikes in the Canadian Rockies' by Mike Potter.  Over many years this book has been consulted many times to hike to several Fire Lookouts in Alberta and British Columbia.  There are directions for 82 fire lookout locations in Volume 1 of Mike's book.  Recently discovered is a Volume 2 with 101 additional fire lookouts documented.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Thanks for sharing your anecdote, Ralph. A lightning storm from a fire tower would be a potentially electrifying experience. Glad everything worked out well.

Man, looking at the photos and reading your description sure brought back some memories for me. I lived in Calgary through the 80s until '96. I spent a lot of time in the mountains walking, hiking, scrambling, climbing, skiing, and just plain sitting. . .I was looking over some of the peaks I'd been up and found the link to this post from your post about ''The Wedge.''. . .seeing the photos of the abandoned fire lookout made it quite apparent to me about the nature of impermanence and just how fleeting the appearances in this life are. . .I visited the fire tower in the early summer of 1988 with a friend who wanted me to meet the woman who was the fire lookout person at that time. My friend arranged this introduction because the fire lookut woman had some land in BC and was looking to build a cabin on it and live there. Apparently she needed a guy who could use a chainsaw to help her, and possibly become her 'partner' in a relationship. My credentials were that I was an expert with chainsaws, and a man. . . Sounds a little farfetched but this was the scenario. So my matchmaking friend, Brenda, and I slogged our way pretty well straight up to the tower, pretty well bushwacking, as I recall. . .We were introduced, but the vibes weren't quite right for any future cabin-building. We did have a great, tower-cooked meal though, with fantastic views, and then a mighty rain and thunder and lightening storm which blew through. This is an incredible experience in an exposed fire-tower. Then, after all was calm again, Brenda and I gave our thank you's and goodbye's and made out way down the rain-slicked slopes to the parking lot. . .the match-making unsuccessful, but the memories unforgetable. . .so thanks for your posts Barry, you never know what sort of comments you'll get in this interconnected, dream-like world we inhabit. . .

Thanks for your comment, Leslie. There is certainly a labyrinth of trail possibility in the Mount Kidd, Mount Allan, and Ribbon Creek area. I briefly encountered a solo trail runner on Kovach Trail near the junction with Aspen Trail. There is a broad range of trail with varying elevation and a host of grand views and interesting destinations. Glad this post brought back good memories for you. I always make plenty of noise on the trail. It is important the bears know where I am so they can get out of the way. The bears are beginning to gain elevation in Kananaskis. It has been a late spring. Hope you are all well soon. Best wishes. Safe running.

Thanks for your good thoughts, Barry! This hike was a blast from the past. I discovered trail running while I was working at the Lodge at Kananaskis. I was there for a summer season from April to late September. After 10 years of not running, I signed up for the first ever Canmore Marathon in late September for motivation. So, I taught my body how to run again. And I ran. I didn't have a car, so I got to know every single one of these trails. It took me awhile to work myself up to some longer distances and I don't think I ever ran over 2.5 hours. I sure had fun exploring. On summer solistice I ran smack-dab-head-first into 3 teenage Grizzly Bears not 10 minutes from the hotel! That's when I learned that the smart girl makes noise on the trail and carries bear spray. ;) I'm loving all of the purple Western Clematis that I'm seeing at this time of year.

It was a gut buster getting up that hill, but the phenomenal views made the climb worthwhile. Doing this hike when spring runoff was fully underway added an additional dimension of sight and sound. The north ridge of Mount Kidd is Grizzly Bear territory but I saw no, I repeat, no evidence of any bear activity whatsoever on this hike. Thank you for your comment, Helen.

Another spectacularly beautiful hike!

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