Hay Meadow is a popular, scenic, family hike near Kananaskis River in Kananaskis Country, Alberta.
There is time remaining in the afternoon for an hour-long hike before returning to Calgary. The late afternoon hike will need to be relatively flat, easy and short because the early day hike on the Wedge consumed substantial energy. It is time to relax.
A short distance north of Wedge Pond on Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40), the turn west into Nakiska, quickly crosses the bridge over the Kananaskis River, to the first right turn into the Stoney Trail parking area. On this weekend day, the parking area is very busy.
From the parking area, the historic Stoney Trail is now a wide, straight gravel road which skirts the west side of Kananaskis River, the west shoreline of Barrier Lake beneath 2,487 m (8,160 ft) Mount Lorette, and Mary Barklay's Mountain, for 10+ KM (6⅜ miles), before swinging to the north-east past the Jewell Bay Backcountry and Equestrian Camp.
Here, there is access to Jewell Pass Trail north to Heart Mountain towering above Lac des Arcs, or east beneath McConnell Ridge along Barrier Lake to Camp Chief Hector and the Rafter Six Resort Ranch. Hiking opportunities, for a wide range of experience, are virtually endless.
From the nearby trail map, a gentle, leisurely stroll in the forest on a loop north through Hay Meadow along the Kananaskis River is chosen with a gentle return through forest on a short section of the historic Skogan Pass Trail for a total of about 3.2 KM (2 miles) on a walk in the park. The multitude of trails at this location makes this area ideal for families or beginning hikers.
The following photos illustrate the nature of the beginning of the Hay Meadow Trail.
There is a substantial amount of electronic monitoring equipment in a nearby clearing and two equipment sheds. The following photographs illustrate this segment of the Hay Meadow Trail.
Past the research station, the Hay Meadow Trail swings west, crosses Stoney Trail and links up with the junction to Troll Falls and the Skogan Pass Trail. The short trail to Troll Falls is reluctantly bypassed for the return hike south to the parking area on the wide, very picturesque, gravel Skogan Pass Trail.
The light in the surrounding forest is magical and the fragrance of the forest is intoxicating. Following photos show the peaceful serenity of this short trail segment with a bit of gentle, nearly imperceptible elevation.
This is a graceful way to end an exceptional hiking day in Kananaskis Country. There is a maze of hiking trails in the area of Nakiska and Ribbon Creek. There are multiple opportunities to enjoy a picnic, and/or a wide variety of hiking experiences, surrounded by majestic mountains and spectacular flora and fauna. Hiking can be tailored to a comfortable distance and elevation.
The area also offers a rich historical component, worthy of investigation , surrounding Alberta's early years of development.