A short hike from Station Flats in Kananaskis Country west of Bragg Creek, Alberta, Canada.
The trail-head begins at the obvious kiosk on the left (west) side of the dual parking area at Station Flats.
Parking in the busy east lot is occupied primarily by mountain bikers, where the biffy resides, and where walking a few meters west on path through forest leads to the predominantly equestrian area and the trail kiosk.
Almost immediately arrival at a Y trail junction forces the decision to veer right and hike the trail loop counter clockwise.
The hike begins on damp trail shared by the Tom Snow and Diamond T trails, through evergreen forest to the left, and marshland on the right. A pair of horseback riders pass near the gated fence.
The wide and mildly undulating trail gradually gains elevation. Diamond T trail is a half day hike tagged at 4.5 KM (2¾ miles) in length with 130 m (427 ft) net elevation.
Gross elevation is marginally higher. Maximum elevation at the viewpoint is 1,545 m (5,069 ft).
Following equestrian riders through the gate on the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada. The gate must be kept closed. We offer to do that and close the gate for them after we pass through.
About a kilometer into the hike, the trail curls sharply and descends into the valley of Chaarhziya Waptan or Willow Creek (Ref: Kananaskis Country Trail Guide 4th Edition, Volume 2, Pg. 49) on a picturesque, sturdy bridge.
The creek shows obvious evidence of 2013 flood impact, but it seems the bridge either held or has been repaired/replaced.
A short distance past the bridge, the hike continues up and out of the drainage and soon arrives at the trail junction where the Tom Snow trail continues north and Diamond T trail hangs a left.
From the junction, the Diamond T trail initially gains slight elevation into deciduous forest with open grassy sections above evergreen forest in the valley to the left. Cresting the tops of hills reveals excellent and expansive views ahead.
The Diamond T trail arrives at a three-way trail junction near a creek crossing. The more prominent, left leading trail, which begins to climb, is actually the Race of Spades downhill mountain biking course.
The less traveled and substantially less attractive route required is clearly tagged with a red marker off to the left of Race of Spades.
Initially this section is damp and muddy. Significant flood damage has been done to drainage patterns in this area so navigation of a number of minor wet crossings are required including a very picturesque stepping-stone crossing of Willow Creek above a tiny waterfall within a field of flood-scattered rock. The cut line begins to gain elevation more aggressively.
At the top of the hill there is a descent which will negates the recently-completed climbing effort. To add insult to injury, the next leg requires climbing similar elevation again with the added adventure of climbing over, and crawling under, forest obstacles. Is there no end to the fun?
Past another dip, the trail veers left off the cut line and continues to climb alongside a fence. The ascent continues on excellent, dry trail through forest.
Trail quality at higher elevation is excellent and sun filtering through predominately lodge-pole pine forest creates excellent and moving shadow visuals as the good trail twists and turns toward sky for eventual arrival at another three-way junction.
The old log bench, in early years, provided an outstanding view east across historic ranch land sheltered by rolling foothills in the Elbow Valley long before Kananaskis Country was established as one of the best outdoor recreation areas in Alberta, Canada.
A magnificent stand of Lodgepole Pine has virtually eliminated the view but the original vista can still be imagined by peering through narrow openings in the forest. The location is atop an outstanding lower elevation ridge.
Following a leisurely and gratifying lunch in the sun, the retreat off the ridge top begins back to the Diamond T Loop. We have already completed about ¾ of the circuit and continue with another short foray and shallow descent through forest.
Past another gate, the final section is a steeper descent which allows the opportunity to practice the Sherpa Step. Combined with hiking poles, this descent step may help to protect knees from long term damage.
At the bottom of the hill, the exit from forest enters open grassland along Hwy 66 for the left turn and short hike back to the parking area.
Station Flats lies in the shadow of Moose Mountain a short distance west of Allen Bill (Pond) on Hwy 66 past Bragg Creek in Kananaskis Country's Elbow Valley. The area contains a mix of year-round multi-use trails with a primary summer time focus on mountain biking trails. The Moose Mountain area hosts an ever expanding mix of currently more than 80 KM (50 miles) of trail.
Kananaskis Country constructed the majority of original multi-use trails. New and expanding trail is primarily a product of the Moose Mountain Bike Trail Society and the Calgary Mountain Bike Alliance. Some of the bike trails are suitable for hiking in spring and fall but are intended for exclusive use of mountain bikers during summer months.
Research and due diligence planning is a good idea prior to enjoying Moose Mountain area trails. There is still time for further exploration in the area. Further west on Hwy 66, past Elbow Falls, and over big, rolling hills, will provide an up-close and personal examination of June 2013 flood damage at Cobble Flats.
Photographs for hiking the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada were taken on October 5, 2014.