How to get to Middle Sister

The ongoing construction in Canmore has changed the access to many trails, often for the better. The Stewart Creek trail to Middle Sister is no exception. While Canmorites know where to go, out-of-towners may be puzzled and, heaven forbid, still trying to follow the routes written up in the third edition of the Kananaskis Country Trail Guide or in the latest edition of Alan’s “Scrambles.”

Stewart Creek start

The start of the old haulage road

The route now starts from Three Sisters Mountain Village. From the Trans-Canada Hwy, take exit 93 onto Three Sisters Parkway. At the 4-way, turn left and follow Three Sisters Parkway to a traffic circle. Peel off second right onto Stewart Creek Landing. Park where the road turns right. Ahead is a wide gravel road (former mine haulage road) with concrete blocks and a chain slung across the entrance This is your route. And I hope you have a bike, because walking the roads eats up too much valuable time.

Bike up the haulage road, passing a road to left with boulders at the entrance, then a road to right with an “Extremely Dangerous Conditions” sign.  A descent then long winding ascent below Stewart Creek Golf Course brings you to an important  T-junction. Turn right up the road positively identified by a sign “Trail to Middle Sister” and a hard to see  chain dangling across it at garotting height. Peddle or hike uphill past  intersecting traversing roads. Interestingly the first road to right (on the line of the old rail bed)  leads to a outhouse — sorry, restroom — at the edge of the golf course. From the outside it looks like any K Country outhouse. Peek inside and prepare to be amazed: green tiling, flush toilet, wash basin, small table with framed photo and  interpretive info re the rail line on the wall opposite the loo, and, best of all, a heater. I’m told, another restroom on the course has a propane heated fireplace. And the golf course closes down in October. It was suggested the heaters are there not for the comfort of the golfers, o/w we would be clamoring to have them in our most popular ice box biffies, but to keep the pipes from freezing. Interestingly, I also learned that two of the nearby fairways are supported by geo grid to stop them collapsing into the mine tunnels below.

But back to the road. Higher up it turns left and ends in a flat area near Stewart Creek at a flow control structure. Park the bikes here.

Stewart Creek-dam

Cross the water control structure by planks or boulder-hop creek below.

This is where people who have found their way to this place then proceed to go wrong by following a poor trail along the left bank. (It ends at a small waterfall in the narrows.) The correct route crosses Stewart Creek via the flow control structure (two planks) and follows a short trail to connect with the old road on the west bank. Turn left  and just follow the road, then trail as described in the third edition. Between here and the forks there have been a few minor changes owing to the creek changing its course. Most notable is the emergence of a higher level trail just after the trail squeaks along the top of an eroding bank.

Stewart Creek-view

Just below the forks you get your first view of The Orphan, the sharp peak on the right. Vol 3 will contain a description of its ascent route.

Bikeable distance is 2.3 km each way.

Stewart Creek map

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6 comments… add one
  • Tony Daffern Jun 23, 2015, 10:49 am

    Luke, check out the recent blog on how to avoid going through the construction site to get to Stewart Creek.
    http://kananaskisblog.com/access-stewrt-creek/2015/

  • Luke Cunningham Jun 21, 2015, 3:30 pm

    Hi, I’m going up this Thursday, just looking for advice regarding parking and orientation to the trail head from the parking lot. Thank You.

    Luke

  • Gillean Daffern Jun 3, 2015, 11:45 pm

    Checked it out last Saturday. It looks very different from the photo doesn’t it? Not a tree in sight beyond the chain! We went farther along the old haul road and noticed the land is being prepared for construction for some distance yet. So to answer your question, one place to park is on the left side just before the chain. However, I foresee that in the next few years we will probably be able to drive all the way to the Stewart Creek road. Hopefully, there will be some kind of trailhead.
    The land clearing has also cut short the end of Quebexican. Bikers are now shortcutting across a couple of grassed roads to a gravel road and following that out to the roundabout.

  • RBJ May 29, 2015, 10:27 am

    It is now 2015. I think you better update the access to Middel Sister once again as I drove in here and there is now more construction. Not sure if they would even like you to park there as your car may be in the way. There is no more concrete with chains. How does one find out a better parking and starting point? Thanks

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