Another selection of great hikes in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
Here are ten more great hikes along Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40) within easy access of Calgary, Alberta. Kananaskis Trail, west of Calgary, and south from the TransCanada Highway, provides quick and easy access to Kananaskis Country.
Several of these hikes may be modified or unavailable due to 2013 flood damage. Due diligence is required.
Check in at a Visitor Centre for current trail conditions and the most recent weather forecast. The south section of Kananaskis Trail, past the turn onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail is closed from December 1 to June 14 to protect wildlife corridors, to reduce the need to clear roller coaster mountain roads and to reduce public exposure to avalanche risk. Click on the title for a link to more detailed information about the hike in the original post.
1. Rae Glacier
The hike to Rae Glacier is an excellent experience which involves a short, moderate ascent from the trailhead to Elbow Lake, then a right turn on good trail to the back, east side of Mount Rae. This easily accessible glacier is the easternmost in the Rocky Mountains and is one of the sources for the Elbow River which feeds the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Scenery is uniquely spectacular over diverse terrain and there are discovery options worthy of pursuit. Rock Glacier is on the west flank of Mount Rae adjacent to Kananaskis Trail. Very cool.
2. Guinn's Pass
Guinn's Pass is an offshoot of the Galatea Lakes Trail offering amazing views into the bowl under Mount Kidd which hosts Ribbon Lake feeding Ribbon Falls. It is the site of a famous and tragic 1986 aircraft disaster. South Buller Pass and North Buller Pass are clearly visible on the far side and are accessible from Guinn's Pass. Mount Kidd can be ascended on the right for clear views of Lillian Lake and both of the Galatea Lakes. Indelibly memorable scenery.
3. Lillian Lake
Lillian Lake is an easier hike available to a wide range of people who have the ability to climb the trails which bypass major waterfalls. Galatea Creek is laced with multiple wooden bridges over cascading white water. Truly a beautiful and very popular hike from Galatea Trailhead on Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40). This is a wonderful place for a picnic beside the still, emerald water with an available option to continue to Lower Galatea Lake and/or Upper Galatea Lake for more robust hikers. A goldmine of opportunity on diverse terrain. The roar of fast water is soothing to the soul.
4. Mount Allan
Mount Allan hosts Nakiska Ski Resort on its east flank beneath Olympic Summit. The true summit is behind and it is a worthwhile objective which can be achieved from the south on the Hidden Creek Trail past Coal Mine Scar from Ribbon Creek parking, or from the north near Dead Man Flats on the TransCanada Hwy. Two cars, combined with an abundance of time, energy and perpetual positive thinking, allow the traverse to be achieved with hours of ridge hiking at altitude and the incredible views such an exercise provides. Not for the faint of heart. The summit via the south access would be a good initial hike. It is initially a steep climb from Coal Mine Scar but from Olympic Summit you will hike past the Mushroom Gardens and the very impressive Rock Garden. Not to be missed. Views from the summit are breathtaking over tarns beneath adjacent Mount Collembola and across to Mount Lougheed.
Guinn's Pass, Lillian Lake and Galatea Lakes are all accessed by the same trail beginning at the Galatea Parking Area. It is possible to do all three in the same long, arduous day. Galatea Lakes past Lillian Lake are worthy of pursuit. The beautiful lakes are rock and mountain bound with plenty of scree and many caves in surrounding rock walls. Beware the faint trail on the opposite side of Galatea Lake is more rustic and does not link back into the main trail, to the best of my knowledge. It will get you back to Lillian Lake. Galatea Lakes are a popular and worthwhile hiking objective. Incredibly beautiful scenery.
Coal Mine Scar is an easy hike to a filled-in coal mining pit on the flank of Mount Allan. The hike begins in the Ribbon Creek parking area which was once the location of the old coal mining town known as Kovach. Careful investigation of nearby surrounding forest will reveal evidence of the historical infrastructure. Hidden Trail leads to a left turn, then continuing straight will reveal an old mining cabin and debris on the way to the massive grassy field with magnificent views of Mount Kidd. All that remains of the old pit mine is a short section of coal rich cliff and the old mining roads. Return on the TransCanada Trail creates a loop on better trail.
Baldy Pass can be achieved, from both directions, by a number of routes. The most popular is the marked trailhead with good parking on the opposite side of Kananaskis Trail. The trail has diverse features and although the views are compromised by tall trees at the pass, a quick jaunt, to higher elevations on either side of the pass, solves that problem quickly. Later in summer, when protected snow is gone, the summit of Mount Baldy can be scrambled or spectacular views are available from the unnamed ridge to the south. As much, or as little, as you choose. It is a good season opener but it may be necessary to cross fallen snow from winter avalanches.
Cox Hill is often hiked from the Dawson Trailhead on the Powderface Trail south from Sibbald Creek Trail (Hwy 68). However, there is an option to drive further south to make the access on an entrance to the TransCanada Trail. A T-junction on the ridge will provide the option to hike to the top Cox Hill to the left, or the nondescript summit of Jumpingpound Mountain to the right. Or both. There are sweeping panoramic views from the ridge with Moose Mountain prevalent to the southeast. Lots of unplanned wandering room in here.
There are three Memorial Lakes. The most commonly seen, from higher surrounding elevations, is 'The Emerald', or Memorial Lake # 2. The lakes represent significant and tragic history.
Access is off the Ribbon Creek Trail onto North Ribbon Creek Trail. If you make it to the old Lumber Mill site you have gone too far. The North Ribbon Creek Trail is rustic over a variety of beautiful terrain with several creek crossing leading to an impressive, multiple pitch waterfall. The steep hike up beside the waterfall is the final approach to Memorial Lake # 1. It is OK to call it a day here.
The trail continues to another waterfall on the right and ascent trail through scree leads to the Memorial Lake # 2. This is really worth the time and effort. The beauty of 'The Emerald' leaves many speechless. You are wise to call it a day here.
However, if you momentarily take leave of your senses, you may continue on trail to an easy scramble and hike to Memorial Lake # 3, tucked around the other side of Ribbon Peak. Bogart Tower frames the view and mighty Mount Bogart looms behind. At the Memorial Cairn you can pay silent homage and respect to the heroes who gave their lives in air searches for a 1986 Kananaskis Country plane crash.
It is a very long day but you may be humbled in many different ways. This hike changed my life. It is a place of grandeur and retrospect where eagle soar.
Pocaterra Cirque is an easily accessible hike off Kananaskis Trail into the large parking area at Highwood Pass beginning June 15. The hike leads to a beautiful bowl with ponds, running water and towering rock walls. There are several trail extension alternatives to extend the day. This trail provides excellent views north to the Rae Glacier on the west flank of Mount Rae along Kananaskis Trail.
Bonus # 11. Ribbon Falls
Ribbon Falls is an 11 kilometre (6.9 mile), one-way, hike with modest elevation, from the Ribbon Creek parking area on trail between the narrow space separating Mount Kidd and Mount Bogart, to an excellent waterfall where lunch tastes better in fresh, ionized air near the roar of falling water.
For any trail you choose to hike it is important to carry a map, consult and carry a good hiking guide, and obtain current trail conditions and forecasted weather from the Visitor Centre. Tell someone where you are going and how long you expect to be there. On completion, call to tell them you have completed your day hike to avoid having search parties to look for you. Stay safe.
Carry layers and pack everything you may need to enjoy a great day.