Hiking the Terrace Trail past Mount Kidd from Galatea in Kananaskis Country, Alberta.
Hiking the Terrace Trail along a plateau beneath Mount Kidd, from the Galatea trail-head on Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40), is a beautiful, partial-day hike on good, undulating path, predominantly through forest, to Kananaskis Village in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Terrace trail is about 8.0 KM (5.0 miles) one-way over a variety of terrain with occasional breathtaking views of surrounding mountains. Net elevation gain is small at 40 m (130 ft.) to a maximum elevation near 1,590 m (5,217 ft.). Gross elevation is significantly higher, with multiple dips in the trail, but within the range of the newer or average hiker.
At the trail junction for Galatea Creek Trail and the Terrace Trail, access to Lillian Lake and Galatea Lakes is unavailable until June 30 each year to protect waterlogged trail from damage, and hikers from potential avalanche risk near Galatea Lakes.
Terrace trail is mainly through forest but crossings over stony drainages break up the monotony and periodically provide spectacular mountain views to the east, as well as views of Mount Kidd looming over Terrace Trail to the west. Forest aroma is rich from sustained spring runoff and recent, copious rain. Wildflowers are beginning their annual display.
About midway, the Terrace Trail assumes close proximity to the edge of the plateau above the world-class Kananaskis Country Golf Course. Sweeping, expansive, panoramas surround the groomed greens and ponds in the valley below. This hike is worth doing to get to this location alone. WOW!
The final stretch of trail is more isolated in forest, with dips through drainages, a left-bearing course at a major trail junction and the final approach on good, well graded trail to Kananaskis Village. Exiting onto the broad lawns of the sports field opens dramatic, sweeping views of mountains to the south. An isolated picnic table in the sun provides world-class while enjoying enjoying a well-deserved and excellent lunch. Why does food always taste so much better in the outdoors? Perhaps it is an accumulated sensory experience of some kind.
Following a leisurely lunch and relaxation in fresh mountain air under sunny skies, I will enjoy a walk through Kananaskis Village and along the spectacular, scenic Village Rim Trail (covered in a separate post) prior to beginning the return hike to Galatea via the same route on the Terrace Trail.
There are several major sections of tumbled rock debris along the Terrace Trail. These are formed and grow from enormous torrents of water generated by melting snow and ice, combined with the gradual and relentless deterioration of the east face of Mount Kidd. These temporary courses of raging water naturally create and continually modify routes often used by scramblers and rock climbers to access the face of the mountain.
One of these paths captures the attention along with an overwhelming urge to swing right and explore this rock-strewn tributary. Common sense counters with the issues of time and risk of hiking solo so continuing along Terrace Trail about 50 m further proceeds until curiosity wins and the turn about begins hiking the off-trail on rocky surface towards the East face of Mount Kidd.
Within half a kilometer the trail encounters running water above the surface and the rock debris field progressively transitions to a more defined creek bed which twists and turns toward the massive mountain looming above me. On the face of Mount Kidd there are two very distinct waterfalls which are likely fed by another dozen from above. Every fibre of my being wants to continue to the mountain face for the potential of finding hidden waterfalls and the power of fast running, cascading, white water.
Hiking solo in rugged terrain, common sense eventually prevails. Less than a kilometer in, with another kilometer to travel along the twisting, turning watercourse, the turnabout reluctantly begins to continue the return hike on the Terrace Trail.
Further south on the Terrace Trail, another major drainage provides an opportunity to sit beside rushing water with a spectacular view of sun and cloud creating slow motion mosaics along the west flank of 'The Wedge' on the opposite side of Kananaskis Valley. The images are incredibly peaceful and relaxing.
A brief video is taken as a reminder of the tranquility. Click to watch.
Imagine 15 minutes of sitting on a comfortable, flat rock under warm sun tempered by a refreshing breeze, beside a stream of cascading, crystal-clear, white water while moving shadows from drifting clouds create changing shapes on a beautiful mountain consuming your field of vision framed by spring green forest and wildflowers.
Gentle descent leads back to the trail adjacent Kananaskis River which signals the encroaching end of the hike, past the Galatea Creek trail junction and across the suspension bridge to the final ascent on excellent trail from the river to the parking area.
The Terrace Trail is a good day hike with several opportunities for exploration of diverse, interesting terrain and occasional spectacular views. A couple of longer sections of view-free forest trail can become a bit tedious.
Two cars would allow a one-way hike from Galatea with more opportunity to spend leisure time among impressive amenities in Kananaskis Village.