Goat Creek Area of the High Rockies Trail in Winter

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ecently we’ve checked out the High Rockies Trail between Goat Creek and Three Sisters Dam. It’s more open than the trail farther south and is one of the few stretches of the High Rockies Trail suitable for skiing, though perhaps more suitable for winter walkers, fat-tire bikers and, after fresh snow, snowshoers.

There is a good snowshoe trail from Goat Creek parking down to the pond. It heads left about 200 m down Goat Creek trail at an obvious junction (see the detailed map below). There is also a snowshoe-broken shortcut from the pond to the bridge that misses out the loop in the main trail. Presently, these trails have been broken by snowshoers and fat-tire bikers and are hard enough to walk on.

Goat Creek detail

Trans-Alta area

Goat Creek bridge area. Building on right is power plant intake. Go behind it to access east bank of Goat Creek.

East side of Goat Creek

The east side of Goat Creek has good easy snowshoeing.

There’s been quite a lot of activity near the bridge where there is also a powerplant intake building that allows water to be pumped from Goat Creek up to the canal. There is pleasant, easy snowshoeing along the east side of Goat Creek, accessed by going up and around the back of the building. Start close to the creek, then just after a small side creek crossing head left to pick up an old road, which leads eventually down to Goat Creek after about 1.6 km. Unfortunately, Goat Creek is flowing fast and free and it is difficult to find a place shallow enough to cross over to the dog sled trail. Maybe it freezes up after a long very cold spell, though I somehow doubt it?

The bridge over Goat Creek.

The bridge over Goat Creek.

From the bridge over Goat Creek, the High Rockies Trail,  which heads slightly to the right uphill, has been packed by Snowy Owl Dogsled Tours all the way to Three Sisters Dam. They have also packed two other old access roads shown in blue on the map. They use a drag behind a snowmobile which leaves a wide tread, though not quite wide enough for skate skiing.

About 2 km from the bridge, just after an open area, a broken dog sled trail takes off northeast back toward Goat Creek, following the west bank of the creek to the bridge. This allows for a pleasant 6.6 km loop from Goat Creek parking. Shortly after this junction there is another packed dog sled trail to the left which we followed to Goat Pond. It’t flatter, and in our opinion, less interesting than the undulating main trail higher up (blue dashed line on map).

dog sled trail

The dog sled trail heading north toward Goat Creek bridge.

The well-packed trail carries on toward Three Sisters Dam, following the powerline for much of the way with some long, straight sections and limited views. There’s a low-lying section with boardwalk and many bridges over flowing streams that must come out of springs on the hillsides above. The trail eventually climbs to a crest of a hill before diving down left onto an old road, a somewhat tedious section leading to the west end of Three Sisters Dam, which is the staging area for a couple of dogsled touring companies. If you are leaving a car at this end there is plenty of room to park on the dam outside of the staging area.

Start of boardwalk

The start of the boardwalk on a long, straight section of the trail between Goat Pond and Three Sisters Dam.

Map

HRT in red. Dog sled packed trails dashed blue lines.

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2 comments… add one
  • Andy Dec 17, 2015, 12:13 pm

    Gillian, you mention the guru of the Spray, Harry Connolly, in your guidebook. Would you be willing to share your stories about him with me? I recently meet him and would like to expand my understanding of him and his contribution.

  • Gillean Daffern Dec 15, 2015, 6:41 pm

    Tony omitted to mention that after following someone else’s snowshoe tracks along the wonderfully scenic east side of Goat Creek, we did actually cross the creek near a log that is easily picked up on Google Earth. The log, rounded and icy, crosses a deeper part of the creek, so rather than risk a dunking, we ran across a shallower part, hoping speed and gaiters would keep the water out of our boots. The snowshoers whose tracks we had been following had obviously come to the same conclusion and had crossed even higher up the creek somewhere. I wonder if they, too, got wet feet?
    And in case you are wondering, the dog sled operators say they are happy with sharing the trails.

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