Views of flood damaged Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
Note: This post is archival. Extensive effort has restored access to a much different Ribbon Creek trail from the Ribbon Creek parking area in September of 2015.
On this particular morning, time is taken for photographs of mountain-surrounded Barrier Lake Reservoir at the hill-top turnout past the boat launch and picnic area on Kananaskis Trail. The early morning sun creates a color enriched, sweeping view of mountains towering over Barrier Lake where the air is still and cool for another excellent hiking day in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
There is time to stop into the Ribbon Creek parking area on the way to hike the open sections of the Bill Milne Bike Path between Delta Lodge at Kananaskis and Wedge Pond for a mission of flood damage discovery. In almost a year, this is the first return into the Ribbon Creek parking area. The access bridge over Ribbon Creek remains intact. The Ribbon Creek Hostel is open for business. Hidden Trail has sustained significant damage within the first kilometer but can be used for access to Coal Mine Scar, and Mount Allan in season. The parking area remains in good shape.
The course of Ribbon Creek has changed substantially. Creek-side picnic tables are gone. Substantial work has been done to shore up new banks and a temporary wooden platform bridge has been established as a link to the Terrace Trail.
The view, from a short distance downstream, shows Ribbon Creek flood damage through the picnic area and the extent of repair in May, 2014.
Back at the Ribbon Creek trail-head, the powerful impact of the flood is obvious. The initial section of road and trail is gone, replaced by the creek. This prevents traditional access to Memorial Lakes along North Ribbon Creek, the Ribbon Creek Campground, Ribbon Falls and the chain assisted scramble to Ribbon Lake. Access to Ribbon Lake is currently via South Buller Pass from the Smith-Dorrien / Spray Trail (Hwy 742) south from Canmore. A significant portion of the Ribbon Creek trail has been destroyed beyond conventional repair.
The solution for restoring this very important and historical link will likely be found by establishing a new route. The old coal mining town of Kovach was resident where the Ribbon Creek parking area stands today. Nearby slopes contain a labyrinth of old mining, forestry and fire roads. Perhaps a series of these can be restored to establish a new trail. Alberta Parks has their work cut out for them. Important volunteer assistance, through Friends of Kananaskis and other groups, is robust.
Initial photos shown above for this blog post were taken on May 27, 2014.
The extent of the June, 2013 flood damage is extensive in several areas and the status remains dynamic as repairs are underway. Some trails may be ready soon. Some are beyond reasonable repair and alternative routes must be constructed. Ribbon Creek is seriously altered.
Checking Kananaskis Country trail reports before hiking is very important. Trail conditions are constantly changing and it becomes incumbent for all back-country participants to exchange information. For unmarked hazards or the need for additional information call the Kananaskis Information Hotline at 403-678-0760. The Kananaskis Information Hotline number can be contacted toll free within Alberta by pressing 310-0000 before 403-678-0760. Excellent finger exercise.
The present and ongoing repair of flood damage is very dynamic. Conditions are changing on a daily basis.
Following photos were added to this Ribbon Creek Flood post from a subsequent visit to the area on June 8, 2014. They begin from where the last photos ended. These photos begin at the Ribbon Creek trail-head and show views of a short hike on primitive trail along creek side, past the gate and around the first corner. There is no trail past this point and apparently the first four kilometers (2½ miles) of road and trail along Ribbon Creek have been destroyed by flood water.
The remaining photos show the views from turning around and making the walk out back to the trail-head at the parking area. The objective is to illustrate the extent of the damage.
Ribbon Creek is a mess and several major hikes are inaccessible from Ribbon Creek parking until the trails can be restored. The dynamic situation suggests the exercising of due diligence through Alberta Parks is important prior to hiking in this area.