There’s lots of snow on the High Rockies Trail and conditions along the Smith Dorrian section are excellent. I took a quick snowshoe up to the suspension bridge yesterday to see how it looks near the end of a heavy snowfall season. There is enough snow on it to reduce the effective height of the handrail and it has been closed.
Starting this month, Alberta Parks will be working on the much-needed upgrade and re-route of the Ha Ling Peak hiking trail. As construction will require tree removal, blasting and new trail construction, Alberta Parks will implement occasional full mountain closures, and will not permit access to hiking and climbing routes on Ha Ling Peak during the closures.
The Mustang Hills is a group of three hills in the upper Elbow located northeast of Rainy Summit between Highway 66 and the Elbow River. At first glance, they appear to be covered in trees, but in reality they harbour meadows offering great views. This coming December, Spray Lakes Sawmills are slated to clearcut the lightly-treed slopes most hikers use to access the hills.
Easy climbs, open ridges and panoramic views from Mesa Butte, Curley Connector and Curley Sand trails allow surprisingly good outings for the short, cold days of winter. The shortest option, to the top of Mesa Butte and back, is only 3.4 km with just over 200 m of height gain. The whole ridge is 6.4 km and requires 2 vehicles, if you don’t want a 3.6 km road walk back to your car.
Nakiska Ski Area is advertising snowshoe trails and guided snowshoe trips! While the original press release had the trail open to everyone, guided or not, just before Christmas they declared their snowshoe trail would be for guided parties only. No other snowshoers allowed. This decision may affect how the the rest of us get to Marmot Basin. The upper section of Mid-Mountain Road (the old Marmot Basin Road), part of the Nakiska snowshoe trail, is the only way for snowshoers and skiers to access Marmot Basin.
The updated new edition of Backcountry Avalanche Safety is now available. Since the last edition there have been significant improvements to avalanche forecasting. Work done by Parks Canada and Canadian academic researchers has led to Canada becoming a world leader in avalanche forecasting and in the education of winter backcountry users.
Memorial Lakes Trail. The dicey traverse of the shale bank, lately equipped with a rope that showed just how bad it had got, has been replaced by a brand new trail that crosses the creek, runs along the mossy west bank, then returns to the east bank beyond all difficulty via a second new bridge [...]
The southern half of Guinns Pass trail was rebuilt this summer after the 2013 flood damaged the original route up that dreadful avalanche gully. It is perfect for campers at Lillian Lake who can visit the pass, peak 237374 and Galatea Lakes all in one day.
The big ridge looming over Highway 742 north of Mud Lake is a popular winter destination for snowshoers who plod up the lower slopes to treeline. In summer, though, there is nothing to stop the hiker/scrambler from going all the way to the summits where a fantastic view awaits.
The High Rockies Trail is finished and open. It is just under 82 km from Goat Creek to Elk Pass at the powerline. While almost all of the trail can be used in winter there are a few things you should be aware of:
Next time you visit Elk Pass at the powerline take a few minutes to view the new portal conceived, designed, built and erected by students from three Elk Valley schools. Using carts they designed, they hauled three 16 ft carved cedar logs 5 km and 300 vertical metres to the Alberta boundary at Elk Pass.
Thanks to a local outfitter we now have a much better trail to Lake Rea from the Elbow–Sheep cut-off in the headwaters of the Sheep River in Kananaskis Country. While the trail is 500 m longer than the discontinued one, it misses out open hillsides torn up by grizzlies and has a good tread throughout.
Among the rarer land forms in the Canadian Rockies are snow-avalanche impact pools. They are small ponds located at the foot of steep avalanche slopes scoured out by snow avalanches with a mound of debris behind them. We visited the impact pool at Upper Tombstone Lake.
We were about 150 m up the trail when Gillean saw a bear cub ahead soon followed by its mum shepherding her offsprings toward us. We were heading up Elbow Lake Trail about 8:15 Thursday morning on a backpacking trip to Tombstone Campground.
Here are our picks for the best day hikes in the Sheep River Area. They vary in effort required from an easy walk up Sandy McNabb Hill to moderate ascents of Volcano Ridge and Mount Ware and a long hike to Junction Lookout.