Sept 11: Birdwood Lakes & Smutwood Pass | Trip Reports | Kananaskis Outdoors Forum

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Sept 11: Birdwood Lakes & Smutwood Pass
September 11, 2015
9:50 pm
Harvie Heights
Forum Posts: 160
Member Since:
April 14, 2010
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Up to the lakes today. No, it is not yet larch season; give it another 5-7 days for prime colours. Some larches were just starting to change up high.

Do NOT take bikes past the Y junction. The road past there is so overgrown that biking on it is nearly impossible, plus there is a giant pile of 3 downed trees blocking the way anyway. Note that there are 4 short, steep, 3 m deep creek gulches to cross on the way to the Y; we chickened out and walked our bikes through all of them.

This is one of those trails that needs serious brushing out. The trail is obvious but extremely narrow in many sections, so narrow as to make it hard to squeeze through with a wide daypack. The waterfall was very nice, and the bog isn't hard to get around, though the trail's a bit of a mess with a bit of flood damage through that section. Whomever built the trail up the headwall needs to understand the concept of "switchbacks". Once at the top of the headwall looking down on the first lake, there are two obvious trails leading off across the scree on the left that stay high and bypass both lakes and lead direct to Smutwood Pass. If you're taking that route, take the higher one at first (the lower one peters out), then when they split again in 100 m, take the lower one. You can visit the lakes on the way down from Smutwood.

Curiously, an obvious path runs from the lower lake up the scree to the northeast, then heads uphill, northwest on the western flanks of Mt. Smuts towards... what? If it's a game trail, it's the most obvious game trail I've ever seen. Looking at my map, it looks like it would lead nowhere.

While we found very little bear food, we did find some bear evidence. Fresh (as in today's) bear scat up on the trail in the meadows just before the big rockfall (obviously eating what little cow parsnip was still green), plus fresh (as in the last few days) digs for ground squirrels on the steep slopes up the headwall below the first lake.

Busy up there for a Friday, with 2 parties of 2 and a party of 8. The story, with photos, will show up on my blog (probably) tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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