Death Valley - Kananaskis Country - Hiking Alberta

 

Death Valley is located in the Sheep River Valley area of Kananaskis Country west of Turner Valley, Alberta

 

Death Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The day begins with the drive south from Calgary on Hwy 22 for the turn west from Turner Valley onto Hwy 546 into the Sheep River Ranger Station of Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.  Death Valley is located in Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park within the Sheep River Valley area of Kananaskis Country west of Turner ValleyAlberta, Canada.

 

Death Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The trail head begins to the right of parking at the Ranger Station and leads directly to signage at a fenced area which keeps horses in and cows out.

This last day of July 2016 ends boasting the most rain in the month of July since 1927.  There has been more rain in July 2016 than there was throughout all of 2015

Very wet trail on this day leads to a chained gate which can be opened and must be closed behind to keep the cows from invading residential property.  Well established path leads into a mix of deciduous aspen and evergreen forest where initially flat land proceeds to gentle ascent towards the top of Long Prairie Ridge trail which serves as cross country ski trail in winter.  On this day, valley bottom options will simply be too wet for decent hiking on lower altitude and wet, muddy path.

 

Death Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaDeath Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaDeath Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The wet conditions have left forest and grassland vibrantly colored and wonderfully aromatic.  Sections of evergreen forest lead to the ridge top where evergreen forest on the north side is complemented by aspen forest on the left with long stretches of grassland opening to provide sweeping views across meadows to mountains beyond these rolling foothills.

There are a number of interesting rocky landscape features among forest fire burn reminders from many years prior.

 

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There are many cows.  Many cows.  The opportunity to avoid interrupting the feeding of calves provides several opportunities to detour off-trail around them though wet, tall grass.  Hiking pants made from somewhat water repellent and quick drying fabric will help and gaiters are a controversial option.

The Long Prairie Ridge trail curls right into gradual descent towards a series of trail junctions which require careful examination to locate the preferred route along the Death Valley Loop and on to the Death Valley Trail.  The Death Valley Trail descends into the bottom of Death Valley for expanding views and, on a dry day with better trail conditions, continues north 5.1 KM (3.2 miles) to pass the Windy Point Trail junction and continue north for an additional 4.9 KM (3 miles) at termination with the Ware Creek Trail and 9999 Trail in this predominantly equestrian area.

Today, this hike will enjoy lunch sitting on an old fallen tree while enjoying the common and relaxing expansive views over meadows and forests to mountains beyond.  Return is via the same route taken in.

 

Death Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaDeath Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaDeath Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaDeath Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaDeath Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaDeath Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Adjacent to trailside there is an intriguing circle of aspen trees surrounding a large boulder hosting a curious brass plaque which undoubtedly represents a fascinating story from the past.  If a reader chooses to share the story, we may all be enriched.

 

Death Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaDeath Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaDeath Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Wet conditions are gradually abating as reverse views from Long Prairie Ridge expand across vibrantly green meadows over forest and foothills to mountains beyond.  The visions through gentle, aromatic breeze are magnificent.

 

Death Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaDeath Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaDeath Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaDeath Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaDeath Valley, Sheep Valley, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Even though skies are predominantly overcast and trail conditions are less than ideal, these factors also provide a unique and diverse experience which provides different sensual arousal.  Sturdy footwear and layers maintain comfort throughout this short and excellent hiking mission.  Marginal weather which keeps the fair weather hikers at home reduces the traffic on the trail and improves the experience substantially.

Important recommended documentation for navigating the myriad of trail possibilities in this area include:

Gem Trek Map # 8;  Bragg Creek and Sheep Valley - Kananaskis Country

Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, 4th Edition, Volume 4

 

Photographs for this hike with Seija in Sheep River Provincial Park were captured on Sunday, July 31, 2016.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

So green. I love the 'birch' [?] trees and your photos of the cows are awesome. It seems a lovely restful walk.

Ample rain is responsible for the greening.  Brilliant even under overcast skies.  The trees are aspen, very similar in appearance to birch from a distance.  Individual genetic families of aspen share root systems.  There were hundreds of cows and virtually no people in the wet conditions. which added to the value of the experience.  Thanks for the comment, Helen.

LOVE your blogs and photos. I will be venturing that way with a friend in the next month. We are staying at Sundance Lodges. We were looking for an easy hike/walk that gives a great opportunity for photography and maybe something a little interesting/unique. We'll have a car and are willing to drive half an hour any direction for the perfect spot. Any suggestions on MUST SEES for two ladies from Edmonton? Any chance you kayak or canoe and have some great ideas for that? THANKS!!!

Sundance Lodges provide a number of nearby hiking opportunities along Kananaskis Trail in Kananaskis Country.  Obtain a Gem Trek Kananaskis Lakes Map and check in with Alberta Parks at Barrier Lake. The Rangers there will help you make specific decisions for your particular experience and gear,  barrier lake may offer canoe and/or kayak opportunities but not my specific area of knowledge

Hi Barry, I really enjoy your blog. I was wondering if we could have a conversation about having permission to use some of your photos. It would be of great help to my thesis. Looking forward to hearing from you Warm Regards, Kelly

Kelly, please let me know your requirements and purpose at hiking@hikingwithbarry.com.

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