Spectacular vistas from Nihahi Ridge in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
Nihahi Ridge is a popular hike in Kananaskis Country which begins at the Little Elbow Campground past the end of Hwy 66 west of Bragg Creek, Alberta. There is parking beyond the campground entrance near the suspension bridge over the Little Elbow River. Access continues by walking the road straight through the campground or on the scenic path above the north side of the Little Elbow River. The official hike is about 4.1 KM (2⅝ miles) one-way from the trail-head kiosk west of the campground, to the scramble near ridge top, with elevation gain of 415 m (1,349 ft) to maximum elevation of 2,012 m (6,601 ft). Add a kilometer for the walk from parking to the trail-head kiosk.
The hike heads west along the road beside and past the campground with commanding views of 2,935 m (9,629 ft) Mount Glasgow and Nihahi Ridge framing the Little Elbow River. The road continues past the gate to the trail-head kiosk, then continues along road to a trail sign clearly marking the turn right on good path through forest to the specific trail marker for the hike to Nihahi Ridge. It is important to check trail signs carefully. Many trail options are available in this area. A trail guide-book and Gem Trek Map to resolve issues as required.
After a brief climb on twisting path with minor elevation through forest, the trail levels into an open grassland meadow bordered by stands of evergreen trees. Spectacular mountain views command the west horizon and Nihahi Ridge draws closer as the hike traverses this amazing meadow in sunlight and a slight breeze. There are signs of repair for minor damage done by heavy rains in the June flooding.
The expanding views are powerful on the hike across the meadow. It is a grand landscape passing through large fields of green grass and wildflowers accentuated by evergreen tree borders on one side and tall mountains on the other. Nihahi Ridge progressively fills more of the field of vision and the south summit of the 9.5 KM (6 mile) long ridge looms large in front as a minor descent heads back into forest. The south summit of Nihahi Ridge peeks above the upper horizon before a sweeping turn to the left begins the more demanding ascent towards the south summit of Nihahi Ridge. The trail gains elevation aggressively over a variety of rocky terrain with occasional sections on large rock outcroppings. Periodically there are spectacular views east towards the familiar profile of Forget-Me-Not Ridge and Mountain, another popular and memorable hike in Kananaskis Country.
As elevation increases aggressively, spectacular westerly views into the Little Elbow River Valley unfold.
The hike continues along the top of Nihahi Ridge and spectacular views expand as the hike ascends along large steps toward the south summit which peaks out above us at about 2,362 m (7,750 ft). On this day we will be content to avoid the easy scramble and additional elevation in favor of savoring lunch at the high point on the ridge surrounded by incredible mountain scenery.
The return hike by the same route is swift under skies with accumulating cloud which never threatens.
The return hike will investigate the status of flood damage along Elbow Falls Trail (Hwy 66) on the return drive to Bragg Creek. Back at the Village of Bragg Creek, significant evidence remains of the devastating June flood which caused major damage. Repair is well underway and continues. A section of the paved road 758 which skirts the Elbow River near Bragg Creek Provincial Park was washed out and is waiting for repair. The interpretive sign, a short distance north of Bragg Creek, on Hwy 22 stands stalwart and emphasizes the reality that Bragg Creek will continue to grow and prosper.
An excellent reference guide for this hike, among others in Kananaskis Country, is Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, Volume 2, 4th Edition.
Gem Trek Map # 8 is also an excellent resource for these trails and many others in the Bragg Creek and Sheep River components of Kananaskis Country, Alberta.
Photographs for this post were taken in Kananaskis Country west of Bragg Creek on August 25, 2013.