The Nakiska Mid-Mountain Day Lodge is on Mount Allan near Marmot Basin in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.
This hike into Marmot Basin begins in early morning from the Ribbon Creek parking area. An overnight rain has left Hidden Trail damp but firm and the forest is incredibly aromatic in morning sun as dew glistens on wildflowers, long grass and brilliant green forest underbrush on this typical summer morning in the mountains.
In less than a kilometer, Hidden Trail arrives at the junction with the Mount Allan Centennial Trail to Coal Mine Scar and across the summit of Mount Allan. Today, it is important to continue straight ahead on Hidden Trail.
Lush stands of vibrant green horsetail compete with abundant wildflowers as the old road passes a small, reflective pond on the left and gently inclines past the massive and empty Nakiska winter parking areas on the right. A descent curls to the right around the end of the parking area and the forest tunnel passes Nakiska residential cottages into the open grounds of the eerily vacant Nakiska Ski Resort.
The objective here will maintain a straight line past the Nakiska Mountain Resort Main Day Lodge on road traversing all the ski runs with imposing views of mountains rising over the forest canopy. Further across the ski runs, Mount Lorette looms above into the north horizon then diminishes as far side forest approaches. Near the end of the hike north across Nakiska Mountain Resort, a path, identified by a small sign as a cross country ski route, leads across the final run to a wide trail into, and through, Kananaskis Country forest.
The four way junction hosts a reassuring sign. A left turn onto the Skogan Pass trail is imperative. Continuing straight on Ruthie's Trail will lead to Troll Falls access or beyond to Stoney Trail. The trail complex in this region is easy when you are familiar but can be confusing on initial visits. The turn left leads past the trail sign.
This trail sign is worthy of close examination. The rivet indicates current position. It shows Kananaskis Trail complex in the area. It does not show Nakiska Ski Resort roads. They intermingle. Hike past the trail sign and begin gradual elevation gain on the curving Skogan Pass trail towards the Marmot Basin trail.
Although Troll Falls is not visible through the forest, the sound of the waterfall is evident off to the right. The sound of running water gradually fades from the right to directly ahead where Marmot Creek, which feeds Troll Falls, demonstrates substantial damage caused by June 2013 flooding. The trail crossing has been repaired.
Further along, on gentle elevation gain, the Skogan Pass Trail curves right around a retaining wall and continues uphill through forest to arrive at the T junction with a gravel road.
At the T junction there is not much help. This is a Nakiska road which shares the Skogan Pass Trail. A tiny cross-country ski sign points right. Turn right and hike along the road for a short distance until arriving at the junction where the wide Skogan Trail branches right through forest.
The Skogan Pass sign does not provide any indication of the necessity to proceed along the Skogan Pass Trail for a short distance to the junction with the Marmot Basin Trail which is the objective for this day.
The Gem Trek map confirms there is a possibility to continue hiking along a mix of Nakiska Ski Resort road structure, in combination with Marmot Basin Road, for about 3.0 KM (1⅞ miles) to the Mid-Mountain Day Lodge before potentially linking into the far end of the Marmot Basin Trail which is the primary objective for this hiking day. This means the hike of the Marmot Basin Trail will occur from end to beginning in the direction opposite to traditional.
The road continues uphill to the junction of the Main Road with Silver Road. A right turn onto Main Road will lead immediately uphill past a gravel pit on the left. The road is initially adjacent to cascading white water and continues forever uphill on twisting, turning road with civilized, but relentless, elevation gain. At higher elevation there is evidence of significant water erosion on and beside the road.
There is little escape from sun and heat. At the moment of considering the merciful termination of my life, the good gravel road swings in a hairpin turn around a small meadow on the left and moderates to the final approach into the Nakiska Mid-Mountain Day Lodge. At the hairpin turn, there is a rustic road heading straight into the forest with a tantalizing, partial view of Mount Collembola. This unassuming and unsigned road is the important link into the Marmot Basin Trail.
Arrival at the closed-for-the-season Nakiska Mid Mountain Day Lodge is a good moment. Views are phenomenal. The haze of smoke from multiple forest fires in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia is slightly compromising for the view east across Kananaskis Valley to 2,726 m (8,939 ft) Mount McDougall.
Above the Day Lodge, the slopes of Mount Allan and Mount Collembola provide a spectacular backdrop. This is a very beautiful place to stroll, observe and relax.
Nakiska Mid-Mountain Lodge is also a wonderful place to enjoy lunch while scenery under sunshine is tempered by a cooling mountain breeze. The map is studied for a few minutes followed by a walk up the road near the Day Lodge for a short distance to the explosives sheds guarded by fluorescent orange fence. The sheds will contain explosives in winter for avalanche control from the large expanse of slopes above. This route does not provide known access to the Marmot Basin Trail which is the main objective for this day.
On retreat down the main road, it is important to turn left onto a rustic, single-lane, dirt road bracketed by dense forest. There is a partial view of majestic Mount Collembola.
This blog post is the prelude to the Marmot Basin Trail hike via the opposite direction. This post of the approach has been separated to divide the images.
The primary objective is to examine the damage in Marmot Basin caused by June 2013 flooding two years prior. Rumor suggests extensive damage was done to several bridges along Marmot Creek fed by North and South Twin Creek from the crotch between Mount Allan and Mount Collembola. The watershed is quite large and there is no hint of the challenging adventure about to unfold. This aggressive hike will actually become a grand and life-long memorable experience. The post for the Marmot Basin Trail hike will follow.
Photographs for this post of the hike from Ribbon Creek parking to Nakiska Mid Mountain Day Lodge were captured in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada on July 6, 2015.