Paddy's Flat Trail - Kananaskis - Hiking Alberta

 

Hiking Paddy's Flat Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.

 

Paddy's Flat Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

On this special Father's Day, hiking with my daughter takes us west of South Calgary on Hwy 22x which continues into the Elbow Valley component of Kananaskis Country on Elbow Falls Trail (Hwy 66).  Overcast sky is threatening.  Crossing the now fully restored bridge over the Elbow River at the badly flood-damaged Allen Bill Pond soon arrives at the turn left into Paddy's Flat

A short distance past the group campground entrance on the left there is a small informal parking area for hikers and hike downhill on sketchy trail or off trail to the flood ravaged shore of the Elbow River.

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Sketchy trail on the way to Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Arrival at the flood swept shore of the Elbow River at Paddy's Flat in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Incredible force of flood water at Paddy's Flat in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada At the Elbow River shore at Paddy's Flat in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada. Lots of skipping stones here.

 

The June 2013 flood damage has created a wide apron of sand bars and plains of boulders which extend deep into the forest.  Many uprooted trees litter the landscape and eroding cliffs are still collapsing on the far side of the river in a surreal, mystic scene that conjures up awe and upsets equilibrium at the same time.

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Power of flood damage at the east end of Paddy's Flat is overwhelming in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Cliff edges are still collapsing and depositing trees into the far side of Elbow River at Paddy's Flat in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Timber and rock debris litter newly created plains along the east end of Paddy's Flat in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Newly created sand bars mingle with boulder fields at Paddy's Flat in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A rogue tire lies abandoned in a newly created alcove on the north shore of the Elbow River at Paddy's Flat in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The forest floor has been swept clean and flood debris is stacked against surviving trees at Paddy's Flat in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat campground hosts an interpretive trail with 12 numbered stations. Eventually a short section of surviving trail is located with an interpretive post bearing the number 2.  It may be safe to assume # 1 is no longer with us.  The interpretive bulletin is available online for those who are interested.  There were 12 learning stations along the trail and several have survived, particularly those on the upper level of the long loop.

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Post # 2 on Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Flood water has swept away sections of Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada New trail detours connect interrupted section of Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Campground residents have been busy with new sources of rock along Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Hiking west on the lower section of Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail along the north shore of Elbow River, there is extensive flood damage and several sections of the trail are gone.  Bedrock is occasionally exposed.  The  hike proceeds alternatively on sand bars, sections of displaced boulders or compromised trail when it becomes available.  The variety within the obstacle course is entertaining and incredibly scenic as fast river water tumbles over submerged rock.

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Sections of Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail have been washed out in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Green bedrock is exposed along Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Debris clogs Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A few short sections of the Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail are under water in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rapids in Elbow River are a recreational kayaker's dream and the sound of rushing water is a soothing companion as the course is dynamically chosen through and around obstacles.

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Elbow River rapids along Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Flood damage on Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Flood damage on Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Flood damage on Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The trail swings right around a large rock abutment.  On the other side of the large rocky area are small, picturesque alcoves created by shallow rock ridges extending out from the shoreline.  A light rain begins so the nearest trail branch is chosen to ascend a steep slope, to link into the upper loop of Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail for the return hike to the parking area.

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The spectacular forest walk on level trail under light rain accentuates the rich forest aroma.  Tiny creeks beneath boardwalk bridges showcase delicate spring foliage in a wide variety of plants within an exquisite display of nature's delicate and meticulous garden architecture.

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The forest walk in the upper level of Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada. Absolutely gorgeous and spectacularly aromatic.

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A boardwalk over a tiny creek along Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A beautiful creek along Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The bridge over the little creek at Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Amazing detailed diversity from the bridge at Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Back near the location of the original descent begins the ascent to the car.  This time more established trail is mixed with the final bit which is off trail through forest.

 

Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A trail marker for Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail in Elbow Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The hike has been a fun experience in a wide diversity of trail condition and changing weather.  If we had become lost, there would be no concern about being found.  The 'Banff Hot Springs Coat of Many Colors' is clearly visible through solid walls and also from outer space.  The shelter of the car is welcome and the drive from Paddy's Flat travels to enjoy lunch at nearby Bragg Creek Provincial Park.  There is still time for another hike and the weather will change soon.  It is the nature of this place.

Photographs for this post were taken on Father's Day, June 15, 2014.  There is no better gift than to take some time from hectic schedules to spend quality time together with loved ones.

 

 

 

Categories: 

Tags: 

Comments

It is a good experience, Sheryl. I recommend you take the unique opportunity to visit and explore.

I did not hike this trail before the flood, but your photos illustrate the incredible damage - as you mention at one point, it's quite "overwhelming." It looks like such a lovely spot, though - even with the need to walk around all the obstacles, I think it would be nice to see.

I too was going to comment about the unending flood damage. Such is the power of water. Sincerely hope it was a one off flood.

The extent of flood damage seems never ending. I love Linda's coat. I was thinking flower power! Glad you had a day to hike together.

Add new comment