Snagmore Hill for fall colours

If you want to enjoy autumn colours in Kananaskis Country, you have two general choices. You can search out the larch patches near treeline in the western half of the Kananaskis, or you can hike among the aspens and poplar groves along the eastern fringe of Kananaskis Country.

One popular aspen hike is the Fullerton Loop in the Elbow Valley, near Allen Bill Pond. This autumn, thanks to the efforts of the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association, there is a new trail which is sure to become just as popular. The Snagmore trail is a beautifully routed trail that wanders among aspen groves and over a small hill, with numerous viewpoints along the way. Begin by following the Elbow Trail for about a kilometre from Allen Bill Pond to the Fullerton Loop junction. Continue 200 metres east to the junction with the Snagmore trail on your right. For the next 1.2 kilometres, the trail follows a most aesthetic line along the edge of an aspen-lined escarpment overlooking the Elbow River. The trail then begins an easy climb up the sunny south slopes of Snagmore Hill, gaining 150 metres in 2 kilometres. A lovely, flowing descent of about 150 metres brings you to the Iron Springs trail in another 2 kilometres. Along the way, you’ll notice that the trail has been carefully planned to stay on dry ground, avoiding sharp switchbacks or steep grades, while taking advantage of every opportunity for views. Many corners have been banked to make mountain biking more enjoyable.

From the north end of the Snagmore trail, you can return to Allen Bill Pond via the Iron Springs and Elbow Trails for a nice half-day loop.  Alternatively, you can make larger loops by connecting onto the new Fisher Ridge trail to the Iron Springs and/or Elbow Trails, or continuing even farther over the Ranger Summit and Fullerton trails. These trails are described in the 4th edition Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, Volume 2 (trails 4, 5, 6 and 7).

So far this season, the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association has focused on constructing new trails in the area between the West Bragg Creek day use area and Allen Bill Pond.  28 kilometres of trail have already been cleared and the tread has been built on 20 kilometres. The new tread is now at a critical stage, where light use by hikers and mountain bikers in dry conditions will help compact and smooth the trail. It is best to avoid the trails during wet weather because this can damage the tread. Equestrians are asked to stay off of the new trails for about a year, to give the trail a chance to harden up. Note that some bridge construction is still required, so be cautious around streams and wet areas. The bridges should be installed by the end of October.

Work has now started on the new trails north of the West Bragg Creek day use area, with the aim to clear a further 15 kilometres of trail, bringing the total to 43 kilometres by October 31. The trails are being constructed with a combination of professional trail builders, contracted track-hoe machines and over 1400 hours of volunteer labour. You can support this project by joining the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association, donating money or volunteering your time. There is a particular need for a qualified track-hoe operator.

Snagmore MapThanks to everyone involved with this project. The new trails are all very impressive!

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11 comments… add one
  • Eric Lloyd Dec 7, 2011, 7:25 pm

    An updated map showing the new West Bragg Creek summer trails and map signs for trail heads and junctions are in the works. For now go to http://www.braggcreekski.org/GBCTA_Ski/Trail_Maps_files/WBC_Summer_Trails_20110806.pdf
    We will let people know once we have a better map on our website

  • gt Dec 3, 2011, 10:15 pm

    These new trails are unbelievable for running. The connections allow for hours of fun between Hwy 66 and West Bragg. Some great climbs and fast sweeping descents….Snagmore, iii, Strange Brew, Sugar Momma, Boundary, Ridgeback…they are all fantastic! Would love it if someone had a map of it all put together. I have individual loops on my Garmin, but would like it all in one place to show people new to the area.

  • Gillean Daffern Nov 12, 2011, 9:04 pm

    Hi Passionatehiker,
    Yes, it’s the film set for “North of 60” a popular TV series a few years back. I guess there is still a use for it.

  • Clive Cordery Oct 23, 2011, 10:09 am

    I rode this trail yesterday, I was very impressed. I found the grading and the views much superior to the old trails. Its great to see all the new singletrack trails on the hill sides in the Elbow Valley – so nice to be up out of the mud. The West Bragg trails work well for XC skiing but they are typically too wide for really enjoyable mountain biking IMO. Kudos to the trail builders – thanks!

  • thepassionatehiker Oct 22, 2011, 4:44 pm

    Agree with Gillean – a great new trail. Constantly admired the efforts it must have taken to clear all those trees to create such a nice trail. Am intrigued by the little village you can see on the opposite bank of the Elbow River as you climb the hill. Is this a film set? I also did Sugar Momma as far as the branch to the top end of Fullerton Loop, and this is also an enjoyable twisting trail up the hillside with some great views. Yes, looking forward to trying them out with snowshoes. Nobody else in sight this morning – that is, until I hit Fullerton Loop!

  • Steve Riggs Oct 13, 2011, 7:01 pm

    Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the cattle to stay off the fresh new trails.
    Isn’t it about time that these trail wrecking, creek trashing, crap spewing beasts were banished from popular recreation areas?

  • Tim O Oct 11, 2011, 9:07 pm

    We went out on the Thanksgiving Weekend and tried the Snagnomore trail. It was wet enough is some spots to make us feel badly about tromping holes in the mud because I think everyone is grateful for the volunteer efforts building these trails, man vs bovine in this area.
    I especially enjoyed the unique views of the elbow and the distant peaks like Banded Peak. Personally I would take my friends on this loop clockwise, steep climb first and then a slow descent with better and new perspectives on the landscape around every bend.

  • Steve Riggs Oct 11, 2011, 8:18 pm

    I’ve had the opportunity to ride pretty much all of the new trails south of West Bragg recently, in various combinations and directions, and can say that they are a welcome addition. From this mountain biker’s perspective, they offer fun, fast, rolling XC riding. My only minor quibble with these trails might be that they are built to a uniform “easy intermediate” standard, with nothing in the way of technical challenges, both uphill and down, to spice things up.
    Nonetheless I have thoroughly enjoyed my 3 rides there.
    Another concern would be that “Sugar Momma” is not at present part of the official network. Too bad, as this superbly routed trail fits perfectly as a link in the new system.
    Final comment would be that as of last week- the trails were unsigned, with some missing short segments here and there, thus it helped greatly to be familiar with the XC ski trail layout in order to link things up.

  • Gillean Daffern Oct 8, 2011, 1:21 pm

    I agree with everything Alf said. A really nice trail. The aspen leaves are fast falling and when they are gone there will be even better views of the Elbow River. I wonder how it will translate to a snowshoe trail?

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