The trail to the abandoned Mount Kidd Lookout begins in Kananaskis Village near the south end of Delta Lodge at Kananaskis. Following my very pleasant and relaxing hike around the short, easy Eau Claire Trail, I drive north on Kananaskis Trail and turn west on Mt. Allan Drive towards Nakiska Ski Area 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 takes me 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. It would be a great day wandering the property on flat, lodge trails to simply enjoy the relaxing mountain and valley views.
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 trailside trees for a beautiful spring display.
At the next trail decision, the Kovach Trail veers to the right, and on the left the Terrace Trail continues south 6.5 KM (4.1 miles) to link with the Galatea area trails. I take the Kovach Trail which 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 I continue to gain moderate elevation.
The Kovach Trail arrives at a junction with Aspen Trail. I proceed along the left branch and continue to gain elevation on switchbacks. Spring runoff, flowing across the Kovach Trail, increases. My waterproof boots handle the water and mud.
My next turn will be left onto the trail which will take me to the Mount Kidd Lookout. It is not a maintained trail so I am scanning the left side of the Kovach Trail carefully as I hike. I initially discount the little waterfall, and the stream feeding it, but a cairn of rocks beneath the branch of a tree catches my eye and suggests the stream is my trailhead. It would have been easy to miss.
The first half kilometre (0.3 mile) is wet and the rate of elevation gain increases. I encounter a young buck who hides behind a branch as I pass in relatively close proximity. Views begin to expand as the forest thins and the trail gains elevation more aggressively.
When I exit 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 my heart from exploding, I periodically pause to enjoy the expanding views to the north where Mount Lorette dominates amongst 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.
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.
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.
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. I can see Coal Mine Scar on Mount Allan, and snow-capped mountains are breathtakingly beautiful, but the sound of hundreds of waterfalls combined with gentle breeze creates a natural extravaganza. The effort to get up here was well worth my time. I take a couple of self portraits before beginning my descent. The trip down is easier and faster than I expect. The Delta Lodge is my gauge of progress and I can see my car in the parking lot as I work my way carefully down the steep grassy slope and back through the forest to Kovach Trail.
At the junction of the Kovach Trail with wet trail to the Mount Kidd Lookout, I take a few minutes to relax in the sun while I collect a few stones to build another trailhead cairn on the opposite side. It will make the trailhead more obvious and those who follow may choose to add a stone or two.
The exit from the forest onto the paved portion of Terrace Trail offers outstanding mountain views looming above the Delta Lodge.
The Mount Kidd Lookout trail is 3.1 KM (1.94 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. The 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 I have used this book 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 (which I have). I discover on the search, there is now a Volume 2 with 101 fire lookouts documented.