Our Trail Updates Database

Roads are opening and flood-damaged trails are being repaired. Please assist by adding comments to this post so we can update our trails database. We really appreciate your input. In particular we need information on trails in the Highwood and Gorge Creek areas. Check a trail’s status by clicking on the box to the right.

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  • Alf Skrastins Jul 31, 2014, 10:59 pm

    CHESTER LAKE, HEADWALL LAKES
    The Chester Lake Trail and parking lot is currently closed due to bear activity in the Chester Lake Basin. No entry is permitted along the trail corridor, or the Chester Lake area, or the upper valleys behind Chester Lake.
    This also means that the usual access to Headwall Lakes from Chester Parking Lot is unavailable. The bear closure does not include Headwall Lakes, so you should use the “shortcut access”, which is about 1 km south-east of the Chester Parking Lot, or about 1 km NW of the Headwall Creek Bridge.
    The bridge over Headwall Creek was inundated by rock debris during the 2013 flood, but a good re-route with a sturdy plank bridge now exists in it’s place. There are a few washouts along the unofficial trail into Headwall Basin, but good re-routes have already been worn in and are marked with cairns and/or flagging.
    There is a good option for avoiding the nasty steep grovel up to the upper part of the trail leading to Lower Headwall Lake. As you emerge from the forest at a big scree slope, go up a grassy strip along the scree slope, rather than around the bottom of the scree slope. From the top of the grassy strip, simply walk across the stable scree slope on a faint trail to the grassy meadow above the steep headwall. There may be a few cairns along the way.

  • Karen Jul 31, 2014, 12:49 pm

    Plateau Mountain – headed out to hike Plateau on July 29th, but access is closed from the base. Normally you can drive up and park a little higher up, and then bikers/hikers can continue on. Hiked Pasque instead. Others have already commented on the bridges and overgrown trail.

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 31, 2014, 10:36 am

    RE MIST MTN.
    Hi Stuart, see the previous entry “No Name Ridge” and Nameless Valley in the data base for the latest access to Mist Mtn. Park 14.2 km south of Highwood Pass at a lay-by on the left side and walk back for 270 m to just past the nameless creek. The trail starts at a small cairn and flagging (obscured a little by bushes at the start), but is then very good all the way up the west side of the valley to Nameless Col. A much faster route than the original that is hopelessly overgrown.

  • Stuart Bremner Jul 31, 2014, 10:07 am

    MIST MOUNTAIN:
    Attempted to do Mist mountain on july 30th – parked on the grassy roadside 13km south of highwood pass. Found the old road but about half a km up (after taking the right fork) as it came close to the creek it just disappears due to flood erosion. We attempted to bushwhack up the creek to find it again and could not – so we took a trail to the right of the creek that seemed to have seen use this season and followed it until it petered out at the creek again. As we were unfamiliar with the area we turned back and did the tombstone lakes and pass trail instead.

    TOMBSTONE LAKES AND PASS
    Trail is in good condition but the bridge right before the wardens cabin and the campground has been uprooted but is still passable on foot by climbing down the other side. The little elbow trail from the Romulus campground has major flood damage after tombstone pass (on the way back to tombstone campground) but is still walkable although biking would be treacherous. Hope this Helps!

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 28, 2014, 9:10 pm

    You can blame it on my British upbringing where “to paddle” in or across a small stream or “to go for a bit of a paddle” in the shallows of a lake or the sea are phrases in common use.According to my thesaurus, the two words paddling and wading are interchangeable. But actually I like the distinction between them. Paddling implies the creek is small and slow moving with water just above the ankles.Wading implies the creek or river is wide, at least knee deep with a strong current.Much more serious.

  • Alf Skrastins Jul 27, 2014, 8:26 pm

    PADDLING
    For anyone who is confused about the possible need to bring a boat and paddle to “paddle” across a stream, please read “wade” whenever Gillean writes “paddle”.

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 27, 2014, 1:46 pm

    PASQUE MOUNTAIN
    First bridge is out. Paddle Wilkinson Creek via the old road to left. Unlikely to be rebuilt. Second bridge over Pasque Creek is also out. Banks on both sides are impossible so you have to detour down right. (There is only one reasonable place to climb up the far bank.) Now THIS bridge should be rebuilt as there is no way for snowmobilers to get around this impasse.
    In the meadow following you leave the snowmobile trails behind and head left at a cairn and flagging. The trail through the cutblocks and long grass meadows hasn’t been used for some time because of road closures and is already filling in. To counter confusion we put in cairns and flagging at salient points to guide people onto the exploration road that starts the climb onto the ridge.

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 27, 2014, 1:00 pm

    BARIL CREEK TO JAMES LAKE (the blue paint marks route)
    Trail is OK, crossings are not. Unless you want to use a dodgy log upstream, first creek crossing to the north bank is a paddle. Bridge is out across second creek crossing that occurs after the sawmill site meadow. Bank on far side is badly eroded. The crossing is easier if you follow the snowmobile route that crosses the creek a little downstream. Third creek crossing is a mess of stones where the creek has strayed. We put some red flagging on both sides because it is extremely difficult to pick out the blue paint marks on the opposite bank. Just know the crossing place is a little downstream. All is then more or less OK though a little damp to the junction with the GDT. Turn right for James Lake camping area and Fording River Pass. The camping area can also be reached via the snowmobile route (exploration road).

    GDT GOING SOUTH TO ETHERINGTON
    We followed the GDT to the Baril Creek crossing and little beyond. Almost straight off the trail is a small creek and you have to walk one side or the other.At the crossing place, the creek has shifted to the far side,leaving the long bridge high and dry on pebble flats.Follow flagging, then orange paintmarks to the new wading place which is a little deep.

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 24, 2014, 12:02 pm

    HWY. 532 (JOHNSON CREEK TRAIL)
    The road between Indian Graves Campground and Hwy. 940 is due to open the afternoon of July 24 — just in time for the weekend.

  • Alf Skrastins Jul 22, 2014, 8:25 pm

    MT. BURKE REROUTE
    This is a follow-up to the June 21 posting about the re-route for the start of the Mt. Burke Trail.
    I can report that there has indeed been a fair bit of use of the new re-route as described. The route is well flagged and has seen enough traffic to wear in a pretty good tread. Virtually all of the deadfall has been moved aside, so the route is clear all the way to the original pack-trail. All but the biggest deadfall on the remainder of the trail has also been removed.
    The new route is very good, because it gets out of the creek bottom quickly and it is a nice, efficient line. I believe it shaves 2 km off of the old distance to the summit. I agree that portions of the lower trail are a bit too steep and should have a couple of gentler zig-zags, but that may come with time.
    This looks like another example where the post-flood trail will prove to be better than the original.

  • Dorothy-Ann Reimer Jul 21, 2014, 12:50 pm

    GORGE CREEK ROAD
    Got the info from Ivan at Ab. Transportation. Barriers were moved but not removed. Road was graded Friday (July 18) but it seems some private person put them back up. Roads people will take away the barriers this time.

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 20, 2014, 6:06 pm

    RE GORGE CREEK ROAD
    Alberta Transportation told us it was open and that they had put the barriers aside to let vehicles through, but that someone —they don’t know who—keeps putting the barriers back. Lack of communication perhaps or for some other reason? Maybe the ESRD knows what is going on?

  • Dorothy-Ann Reimer Jul 20, 2014, 3:17 pm

    GORGE CREEK ROAD
    No, don’t believe Alberta Transportation. They said road is open but it is very definitely still closed.

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 20, 2014, 2:22 pm

    PLATEAU MOUNTAIN ROAD
    As of July 19 this road was gated close to Hwy. 940. A few parked cars indicate a few people were walking 3.7 km up the road to the second gate which is the normal parking area. Can anyone report on the condition of the road between the gates?

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 20, 2014, 2:16 pm

    ETHERINGTON CREEK TO GDT
    We had heard horror stories, but it’s not THAT bad. Already bypass trails are appearing..The worst part is the section between Baril Loop return leg and Etherington/Loggers snowmobile junction, where the river has changed course, forcing three creek crossings instead of two.

    In detail : The section between the end of the equestrian campsites at Etherington Creek Campground and the 4-way at Raspberry Pass- Baril Loop snowmobile trails has bank erosion but is fine to walk. The first bridge is hanging in. All is then good to the second bridge which is is in fine condition. The stoney track following has one tree across it that can be circumvented on the left. A little beyond, a small creek runs down and across part of the track. Bypass on the left, then cross on rocks. In the first meadow a section of missing track is easily bypassed by walking along the new bank top in the grass. All is then good through the big meadow. Just before the first ford bypass a deep gouge to the left. At the ford itself the usual crossing place is a mishmash of downed trees on both sides. Cross easily to the left. The next section to the return leg of Baril Loop is OK to walk despite one bit of missing track due to bank erosion and a swath of stones.
    After the side creek crossing things get interesting! The track was obviously a spillover of Etherington Creek during the great flood and probably had water running down it at normal high water this last Spring. But no matter. Just walk the grass on the right bank. Come to Etherington Creek which has taken over the track upstream. Bypass by stones, mud, bit trail on the right side. Pick up the track which has a little water running down it. Again walk the right side. For a third time come to Etherington Creek which has taken over the track ahead for a much longer stretch.Actually the creek split upstream, but this channel carries most of the water. Walking the right bank is more difficult this time and ultimately, just before the split, you have to wade across. Then wade the old channel to a continuation of the track. Everything is then normal, just the usual last ford before the Etherington/Loggers snowmobile trail junction. (High eroded banks on both sides of the creek make getting onto the continuation of Etherington snowmobile trail impossible from this direction.)
    Luckily our route keeps straight, following Loggers snowmobile trail. Nothing has changed from here on to the GDT trail junction.We followed the GDT a way towards Baril Creek and found only minor erosion from water running down the trail.

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 16, 2014, 1:48 pm

    GORGE CREEK ROAD
    According to Alberta Transportation this road is now open to Gorge Creek trailhead.

  • Bruno Jul 16, 2014, 12:54 pm

    JUNCTION MOUNTAIN FIRE LOOKOUT
    The Sheep River can now be forded just above Tiger Jaw Falls due to low levels. The road to Dyson Falls is in bad repair, with a severe but passable washout just before the meadows. Lack of use means the meadow is trying to take back the trail by covering it in long grass, while wild flowers abound on the road up Junction Mountain. All in all, the trail is do-able on foot or by bike, or both as in our case.

  • Alf Skrastins Jul 14, 2014, 10:15 pm

    RIBBON CREEK
    The 2013 flood devastated the Ribbon Creek trail. The process of re-building the Ribbon Creek trail is now underway. Nine professional trail crew staff, 3 track-hoe excavators and scores of volunteers with the Friends of Kananaskis Country are now re-routing, repairing and re-building the Ribbon Creek trail. Current work is on the section upstream of the Kovach Trail junction. Most of the re-routes will move the trail up-slope onto higher, drier ground. Besides being flood-proof, the new alignment offers better views and improved wildlife safety.
    The trail is closed to hikers during construction, but if you want to be part of re-building the trail, you can volunteer with Friends of Kananaskis Country.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/112757355578245802406/RibbonCkTrailRebuildJuly2014?authkey=Gv1sRgCJzKhZjVzo6rHg

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 12, 2014, 11:22 pm

    ETHERINGTON CREEK CAMPGROUND
    A, B and C loops and the day use area are now open. Equestrian group campground should be open in August sometime.

    HIGHWOOD HOUSE
    Is unlikely to be open this year.

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 12, 2014, 11:14 pm

    LOWER CATARACT CREEK FALLS
    Via West Bank trail. From Cataract Creek Campground head north (downstream) along the meadow trail for about 1. 6 km until you come to where the creek now splits at about 728754. Wade across here or make two crossings a little downstream. (The old crossing place farther downstream is no good; changed beyond all recognition with flood debris on the west bank.) On the west bank meadow pick up a trail that improves as you go on. Look for flagging. We were worried about the low-lying section, but it’s pretty well intact with just one section washed away. Here, someone has made a bypass trail that we brushed out a little more. After this the trail is good to the falls viewpoint.

  • Alf Skrastins Jul 11, 2014, 10:02 pm

    YAMNUSKA RIDGE
    The traverse of Yamnuska Ridge is a popular scramble and one that sees lots of traffic from hikers who unfamiliar with the skills or even the boots required for scrambling. As a result, this traverse is the scene of many expensive helicopter rescues every year.
    One of the main problems is that this is an unofficial route and nobody really constructed the trail. It is a spiders web of paths that wander across the scree and rock-bands along the north side of the landmark rock cliff. People following the many false leads will find themselves on steep and often dangerous terrain. Sometimes this results in injury, but often people just get stuck, with nowhere to go.
    Today, Kananaskis Country staff were out marking the “best” of the unofficial routes, by painting sky-blue squares on rocks. There are just enough blue squares to direct travellers along the tricky or confusing bits of the best paths. There are no markers along the more obvious scree trails. So keep your eyes open for the blue markers. If you find yourself looking at a rocky/cliffy section and you don’t see any blue markers, do not continue on. Go back and get onto the most used scree path until you can follow the blue markers.
    The blue squares are a pretty subtle colour to use for route marking. Other countries (like New Zealand) use bright orange markers with great success. Some places use yellow or white markers. Even if they are hard to see, the blue markers will be an improvement on the random unmarked trails that existed before today.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/112757355578245802406/YamnuskaJuly112014?authkey=Gv1sRgCJf83InPs6DYsAE#

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 8, 2014, 11:29 am

    LINEHAM RIDGE & CREEK
    Everything is good to where you reach the creekbed. Bed has widened with eroded banks, deadfall and landslides off the northwest slope. The high water trail is no longer there. Now you HAVE to cross the creek for a stint on the southeast bank. We flagged the crossing place which is slightly downstream of normal. On the far side, edge along the eroded bank top until you can pick up the trail. Recross at flagging using a fallen tree. After this the route up Lineham Ridge seems to be OK.
    The trail to the cirques is fine until you round the bend and head north alongside the creek. Most of the trail has gone, only snippets remain which we flagged. In its place are high eroded banks, stones and boulders and downed trees. We tried to stay on the left bank, but were forced across about two thirds up. This means crossing the side creek before you get to the steep trail up its left bank. The start has eroded out and you have to walk left a short way. The rest of the trail is in great condition.

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 8, 2014, 10:50 am

    CAT CREEK INTERPRETIVE TRAIL
    Trail has been rebuilt in the canyon and bridges replaced. Yesterday a crew was working on the railings.

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 4, 2014, 3:16 pm

    NAMELESS VALLEY #203 Volume 2, Edn 3
    Direct trail to the pass from Hwy. 40 starts from the west side of the creek at 501989. Small cairn and flagging. Three narrow stone chutes cross the trail in the trees. Trail already being remade. In the meadows just below the pass the ground has slumped at a fork in the creek. Walk dirt between the forks.

  • Gillean Daffern Jul 4, 2014, 3:06 pm

    HAILSTONE BUTTE FIRE ROAD, SENTINEL PASS & PEAK
    FIRST-HAND UPDATE A long stretch of fire/well road on the meadow flats is a mess where the creek created a new bed for itself. Some water still running down it. We couldn’t bike it, but I expect more expert bikers will do better. All is then good to the first junction with a well road. The fire/well road then passes through the narrow valley and it’s here where big chunks of road are missing. In one place the creek ran both sides of the road, leaving a narrow arete! The rest of this section is good until you come to the second well road junction where there’s a washout. The fire road proper beyond this point is untouched and so is the route to Sentinel Pass, which is where we turned around.

  • Erik Jul 4, 2014, 2:01 pm

    Hi,

    The fire road bridge across the Sheep River at Indian Oils Day Use is gone, apparently due to the flood. Users must wade if they want to access trails on the other side.

  • Derek Ryder Jun 29, 2014, 10:59 am

    SENTINAL DAY USE
    I heard info yesterday that there is a specific plan to open Eyrie Gap as a temporary measure until Sentinal can be rebuilt. I did not hear a time line on either step.

  • Derek Ryder Jun 27, 2014, 2:34 pm

    In case you missed it, someone from the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides did the Centennial Ridge Trail on June 26th and posted a report.

    http://acmgmountainconditionsreport.blogspot.ca/2014/06/mcr-centennial-ridgemt-allan-traverse.html

  • Gillean Daffern Jun 27, 2014, 2:20 pm

    PICKLEJAR CREEK DAY USE AREA
    Latest news is that the day use area will not be rebuilt. In its stead will be a parking lot trailhead close to the hwy.

  • Gillean Daffern Jun 27, 2014, 11:56 am

    CAT CREEK INTERPRETIVE TRAIL
    Yes, when we were knocking around the Cat Creek area we saw some wood loaded on a flatbed parked near the old hwy. bridge out on the old camp road. I think they are waiting for the creek to go down.

  • Derek Ryder Jun 27, 2014, 10:10 am

    CAT CREEK
    The Friends of Kananaskis is putting together a project to help Parks finalize the new bridges at Cat Creek. Not 100% certain, but think it’s the interpretive trail bridges.

  • Gillean Daffern Jun 25, 2014, 2:57 pm

    CAT CREEK HILLS
    Re Trail 255A in Edition 3, volume 2. This old road up the back side of the hills in the forest has problems. The first section is reasonable despite encroaching alder. Then you reach the draw. A slump on the right bank has deposited a mess of trees across the bottom of it. So you climb over them and discover any remains of the road up the draw has been washed away and the draw eroded into a deep gully, leaving you to pick a way along its steep left bank . Is it worth the effort? The rest of the road onto the ridge top is badly infiltrated by over the head alder although the tread is still clear. If the alder was cut back, this might still be a viable route, and the draw could be avoided by a steep climb up the grassy left bank. But right now this route is just not enjoyable!

  • Gillean Daffern Jun 25, 2014, 1:59 pm

    PICKLEJAR CREEK TO PASS
    The first bit of trail is missing, but it’s easy to get back on track: Start behind the biffy pad at Picklejar Creek day use , following flagging through a few trees to the still standing horse rail, now surrounded by stones and debris. Drop into the creek bed and walk up it below eroded banks. There was very little water in this channel when we were there and I imagine that later in the year there will be none. After the eroded bank ends, regain the trail on the left bank at flagging.
    After this the trail is in great shape until it crosses the side creek. Fallen trees on the near bank means small detours left or right. The far bank is eroded and calls for a big step up onto the continuation of the trail. The trail is then good to way past the turnoff to Picklejar Lakes. A small slump with fallen trees is easily navigated at the creek crossing. The trail then follows right bank meadows all the way to the pass. A few rifts have opened up closer to the pass , but have easy ways across. See the pics from the previous entries.

  • Gillean Daffern Jun 25, 2014, 12:51 pm

    PICKLEJAR CREEK DAY USE
    is pretty well decimated. Garbage disposal unit had a near miss, biffy was thrown off its foundations, the horse rail stands in the middle of the creek bed, everything else is in splinters. Amazingly, the water was so strong it drove full grown trees under the tarmac! Oddly enough, there is now very little water in this channel, the main creek has moved far to the east! Nothing is happening re repairs . Will the day use be put back in the same place? We need some sort of trailhead here. Here are some pictures. http://bit.ly/TjXchC

  • Robert Armstrong Jun 25, 2014, 11:46 am

    LANTERN CREEK/PICKLEJAR LAKES

    Although the trail has water flowing down it in places, it is unaffected, except for the avalanche slope that you descend to reach the first lake. The slope turned into a mud slide, a tongue of which made it across the creek, obliterating the trail in the process. The going is currently pretty rough. When reascending the slope, the lack of landmarks for orientation make it hard to stick to the right line. However, I counted 36+ people on Sunday, so I imagine the trail will reform quickly.

    Alternate access: The trail from the pass down to Picklejar Creek has a lot of deadfall. On the far (north) side of the creek, the grassy slope upstream of the ford has collapsed, taking the trail with it. Later in the season it may be possible to ford further upstream and reach the trail, but not so much right now. And anyone coming up the connector trail from Picklejar Creek could bushwhack along the top of the grassy slope to reach the surviving trail, but would need to know to do it. Otherwise, they will be crossing the creek and climbing up to the pass and the normal route.

  • Alf Skrastins Jun 25, 2014, 9:30 am

    PICKLEJAR CREEK, MT. LIPSETT
    The Picklejar Creek Day Use Area is currently taped off with yellow “Do Not Enter” tape… but no explanation. I am guessing that this is because the debris flow from Picklejar Creek covered the parking lot, picnic tables and toilet and repairs are in progress. I’m not sure if this means that this means the trail is closed. Since the Picklejar Creek trail is unofficial, there is no information on the K-Country website.
    The unofficial Mt. Lipsett Ridge parking area is currently being used as a quarry for fill that is being used to repair nearby bits of Highway #40. People are parking along the shoulder nearby to hike up the Mt. Lipsett Ridge trail. The good news is that the quarry appears to be creating a much better parking are for the future. Is it too much to expect an actual trailhead at this location? Who knows… K-Country never communicates any of this information to the public who pays their salaries.

  • Alf Skrastins Jun 24, 2014, 10:49 pm

    NAMELESS RIDGE/NAMELESS VALLEY LOOP
    In the 17 years since the 3rd edition of the Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, Volume #2 was published, a lot has changed. The 2013 flood was one dramatic change, but years of vegetation growth and hiker traffic have produced equally significant changes to hiking routes.
    Nameless Valley and Ridge (hike #203) is a case in point. The routes as described from both recommended start locations have become overgrown with shrubs and trees. Luckily, bush thrashing is unnecessary.
    I prefer to park at the paved lay-by on Highway #40, directly below Nameless Ridge. Walk east along the highway for 1.5 km to warm up, then go up the grassy bank beside the road to gain the top of a rock-cut. This is the base of a gentle rib that eventually becomes Nameless Ridge. An easy to follow unofficial trail goes up the rib to treeline. From there, follow bits of trail up the steep, grassy, south end of Nameless Ridge. I prefer to go up this step early in the day, rather than down it at the end of the hike. After 150m elevation gain from treeline, the slope angle eases off and you’re following a spectacular ridge crest.
    From the top of Nameless Ridge, descend to the pass at the head of Nameless Valley. The trail down the valley starts on the west side of the little creek and is easy to follow all the way to the highway. You’ll end up 200m west of your vehicle at the paved lay-by.
    The only damage from the 2013 flood is a couple of short gravel flows over the trail and several fallen trees that partially cover the trail. These are easily stepped over or around.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/112757355578245802406/NamelessRidgeJune242014?authkey=Gv1sRgCISIq4TD8sPIwgE#

  • Alf Skrastins Jun 21, 2014, 9:31 pm

    CAT CREEK HILLS
    The Cat Creek Day Use Area is closed, possibly because of flood damage that still needs to be repaired. Instead, I parked at “Access #3” as described for hike #254 in Volume #2, Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, 3rd Edition. This is logging road, about 300m south of the Cat Creek Bridge. The trails are good until you get to the site of “Ford Mines at Cat Creek”. Right at the mine entrance, a big chunk of the hillside has washed away and most of the old haulage road is gone. A bit of a track has already developed to work around the collapse, but I think it should still be moved farther back from the edge.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/112757355578245802406/CatCkHillsJune2014?authkey=Gv1sRgCICAnNSjmJ7RvgE&gsessionid=dHFTWU8Pa_edLKPYCPzTkA#
    The rest of the Cat Creek Hills loop that I took was in fine shape, with a wonderful display of flowers on the hillsides!

  • Alf Skrastins Jun 16, 2014, 8:16 pm

    EAST TELEPHONE LOOP (West Bragg Creek)
    The east half of Telephone Loop, from the West Bragg Creek parking lot to the north end of Long Distance Trail is currently under construction to repair flood damage from 2013 and to fix drainage issues that have long plagued this trail. As a result, the trail is muddy and rough and is use is not recommended… especially south of the Disconnect junction. I’ll update this as the construction proceeds.

  • Tony Daffern Jun 16, 2014, 4:41 pm

    Thanks for the info on Mist Creek/Ridge Robert. I seem to remember that there are still some toilets at the very west end of Sentinel, hidden from view and probably locked. You could try calling the trails hotline 403-678-0760 and suggest opening up Eyrie Gap.

  • Robert Armstrong Jun 16, 2014, 3:58 pm

    A comment (question maybe?) on the washout of Sentinel Day Use. Just around the corner is Eyrie Gap Day Use, complete with a locked gate. I know it was slated for removal, but the Highwood chose Sentinel instead. Why not open it, at least for access to the toilets? With Cat Creek closed, the only other facility along that part of Highway 40 is Fitzsimmon Creek.

  • Robert Armstrong Jun 16, 2014, 3:52 pm

    MIST CREEK/MIST RIDGE

    Two 50-yard sections of trail between the day use area and the highway crossing are now the creek. Better to park on the north side of the highway near the ‘crosswalk’. There’s not much shoulder on the south side. The day use area is not affected, but it’s a long walk out to the highway.

    Mist Creek: Aside from a couple of gravel fans and some side creeks being a bit more incised, the trail is fine all the way to Rickert’s Pass. That said, the trail needs some treadwork remediation and water diversion in places. The trail going down into the first side creek is very badly eroded – far worse than it was.

    Mist Ridge: The trail is occasionally sketchy close to the Pass, in the vicinity of the north peak. The slope has slumped in places, but with some traffic the tread will reform. Otherwise, fine.

  • Alf Skrastins Jun 15, 2014, 8:36 pm

    WINDY POINT RIDGE and TRAIL, PINE RIDGE, MACABEE RIDGE
    I did a hike from the Windy Point Ridge parking area to the Sheep Park Headquarters parking lot and checked out a number of routes and trails along the way: (Trail numbers are from Kananaskis Country Trail Guide Edition 4, Volume #4)
    Windy Point Ridge (#17) is in good condition, just as described in the trail guide. Gleason Ridge (#17A) is in great shape as far as I went, just past top #3. At this point, I followed traversed across to a grass/aspen covered rib heading east and descended to the Windy Point Trail.
    Windy Point Trail (#15) is in good condition, with just a few muddy spots, where the trail builders did a poor job of managing drainage. There is one short boggy area near Death Valley Creek. The creek itself is in a deeper channel, following the June 2013 flood, but this actually makes the creek crossing easier.
    The new North Pine Ridge Trail (#13) from Death Valley is in nice shape and is a welcome connector to the old Pine Ridge Loop XC trail.
    I followed the Pine Ridge Loop (#12) south and east to the sign at the junction with Macabee Loop. I headed for Macabee Ridge (#12A), which involves the crossing of a wet meadow and creek. Last years flood has dramatically down-cut the creek channel, resulting in a mini-canyon. However, it also created a handy land-bridge across the creek and has largely drained the boggy area. The route onto the north end of Macabee Ridge was straightforward and the ridge itself was easy and most enjoyable.
    On the way back to the parking lot, I just short-cut from the Macabee connector to the hairpin bend in Macabee Loop.

  • Alf Skrastins Jun 14, 2014, 10:59 pm

    CARRY RIDGE, MULEY RIDGE, FORKED RIDGE
    These three first ridges at the east entrance to the Sheep Valley are excellent early season hikes, especially now that the aspens are fully leafed out and the summer flowers are in bloom. See hikes 10, 10A and 10C in Kananaskis Country Trail Guide 4th Edition, Volume 4.
    Carry Ridge trail is in great shape from the “South End” trail, right to the north end of the ridge. The section of trail along the east side of Muley Ridge, along the Anchor D fence-line is a boggy mess of horse hoof-prints, but you can avoid most of the mud by going slightly up-slope in the trees.
    Muley Ridge route is in fine condition. The trail connecting Muley Ridge to Carry Ridge has some muddy sections, but there are new re-routes around the worst bits. Another good option is to descend the open, grassy rib to West Mud Springs Pass. From there you can either follow Heel Creek back to the start or go north on West Mud Springs trail to the north end of Carry Ridge. You can also go up the grassy draw to a spot just south of the top of Forked Ridge.
    Forked Ridge is also in great shape for hiking right now. If you want to make a loop using Forked Ridge to connect with Muley or Carry Ridge, I suggest the following. Start at the Kananaskis Country sign and follow the beginning of the Carry/Muley Ridge route to the gate in the cattle fence. Turn left and follow the ridge-line, instead of dropping down to Heel Creek. Just follow the lovely, open ridge to the west and stay on the height-of-land in a north-westerly direction, until you get onto Forked Ridge. This is much preferable to walking along the road for 1 km to or from your car.
    I find it easier to navigate UP Forked Ridge, and then return via Muley or Carry Ridge routes.

  • Alf Skrastins Jun 13, 2014, 10:50 pm

    GUNNERY CREEK, GRASS PASS, FIR CREEK
    One of the significant impacts of the 2013 flood in the Highwood Valley, was the complete removal of the Sentinel Day Use area. The large paved parking lot, toilets, garbage bins, horse ramps, picnic tables and even a good chunk of the highway were eaten up by the Highwood River and flushed downstream. The road has been rebuilt, but nothing remains of the day use area. So, until Alberta Parks, ESRD and Alberta Transportation can get their act together to decide upon the location of a new Day Use Area/Trailhead, we have no choice but to park along the road, where ever that seems possible.
    Gunnery Creek trail is generally in good shape, with only one section about 2/3 of the way to the pass, where the trail has washed away. It is open, grassy meadow at this point, so a good re-route is already developing.
    Grass Pass is in good condition, although I did not check out the Grass Pass Trail along Packsaddle Creek.
    The Fir Creek Trail was generally in good condition, with only a couple of small wash-outs at some of the side-streams. Re-routes have already developed.
    If you check Google Earth for this area, you’ll notice that the satellite image is quite recent. It shows the reconstructed highway and the current alignment of the Highwood River.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/112757355578245802406/GunneryFirLoopJune82014?authkey=Gv1sRgCOi9wbmM8a_wcA&gsessionid=CXDRchk5ek–sjm63myXHQ#

  • Alf Skrastins Jun 13, 2014, 10:23 pm

    PRAIRIE CREEK and PRAIRIE MOUNTAIN
    Prairie Creek suffered some damage due to the 2013 floods, but not enough to prevent anyone from hiking/biking along the trail.
    Starting from Hwy #66, the trail follows the re-route that was built 2 years ago. At the bottom of the re-route, the original tread is missing for about 50m, but a new trail has developed next to the old route.
    Next, there is a section upstream where the trail got removed by the creek, but a reasonable tread has developed next to the embankment. A re-route on a slightly higher terrace has been flagged by trail crews, and may be constructed later this summer.
    West of the cliff-top viewpoint, there is a short section (see photo), where the embankment has washed away, narrowing the trail significantly. If hikers/bikers took a moment to push any loose rocks off of this bit of trail, the passage would be much safer, until a proper repair has been made.
    Just west of that is a large section where the hillside has slumped, causing the trail to collapse into a muddy staircase. You can squeeze around the edge of the mess, but it’s not really rideable on a bike.
    The Prairie Mountain West Ridge Route (19B in Volume 2, 4th Edition of Kananaskis Country Trail Guide), is in excellent shape.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/112757355578245802406/PraireCkJune2014?authkey=Gv1sRgCPPYouPYq5PzCw#

  • Alf Skrastins Jun 13, 2014, 9:50 pm

    ELBOW TRAIL RE-ROUTE
    A Friends of Kananaskis Country volunteer trail crew did the final clean-up work on the post-flood re-route of the Elbow Trail last Saturday. There is now a new gravel parking lot on the north side of Highway #66, opposite the Allen Bill Day Use Area. The Elbow Trail starts from the east side of the new parking lot, crosses a wide bridge over Ranger Creek, then goes up a short hill to a flat terrace above the Elbow River. After a little less than 1 km, the trail descends from the terrace back to the Elbow River, and re-joins the original trail at a gate in the cattle fence.
    If the little parking lot is full, you’ll have to park in the Allen Bill Day Use Area on the south side of the road and walk across Highway #66 to get to the trailhead. Don’t follow the old trail under the highway bridge. It dead-ends where the Elbow River flows right up against a shale cliff.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/112757355578245802406/ElbowTrailJune2014?authkey=Gv1sRgCLzdjZby7pjsVQ&gsessionid=74k0Rs2qRjz2E6QDMvULTg#6024638690149223394

  • Gillean Daffern Jun 13, 2014, 4:47 pm

    SALTER PASS
    The going beyond the Mount Burke turnoff is much the same as for the first section of Salter Creek, only the stones are smaller and the going is flatter. Fallen trees aren’t much of a problem. Three gullies on the north side have discharged enormous quantities of stones and mashed up trees into the creekbed, but luckily these are easily bypassed. Just beyond the side valley to the north, a remnant of old road takes you into the flat upper valley which is an ecological reserve.You would think this part of the valley immune to the flood,but not so. Here and there are wide gouges of all depths filled with stones and higher up, deep rifts in the grass. Not a lot of the old road is left.Use handy trails on the left side where possible.Just below the pass you have to cross a new deep rift that used to be a wee creek.

  • Gillean Daffern Jun 13, 2014, 3:43 pm

    MOUNT BURKE TRAIL
    The trail along the north bank of Plateau Creek from the parking area has been affected, but is still walkable. Initially follow flagging and cairns through trees and sandy-pebbly areas. Where the trail follows the higher bank there are three washouts that can be bypassed. The last one requires stepping over deadfall. The trail ends cold turkey above a drop-off into Salter Creek! Go right to descend into the creekbed.
    The Salter Creek section has seen a rearranging of stones and boulders into draws and ridges. Side banks are greatly eroded. Fallen trees can be circumvented or crawled under. Opposite the turnoff to Mt. Burke a strip of forest (with mud underfoot) has survived and from here you can study the best way to get across the creekbed onto the trail seen climbing the hillside opposite. A group of fallen trees make a direct crossing impossible. Cross either before or after.
    Rest of the trail seems okay.

  • Gillean Daffern Jun 13, 2014, 3:18 pm

    LOWER CATARACT CREEK
    Cataract Creek Campground is open and needing visitors. Sites and washrooms are in immaculate condition.
    Trails to Titan Falls along the east bank of Cataract Creek have been wiped out beyond the ponds. River has split, with one channel heading east into the middle of the ponds, then out north, doing away with the rest of the ponds. A wide gully with flowing water opened up at the south end of the ponds. Net result of two channels of surging water is a great scouring of the bank on the east side with steep mud and bare bedrock. I can’t imagine the trail farther on at river line will have survived. Kayakers reported trees all over the trail near the falls when doing a portage.
    So that leaves the west side trail which will be described in Volume 5. You have to cross the river for that. The problem now is getting to the old crossing place IF it exists any more. Weren‘t able to look farther because we couldn’t cross the river channels, but will check later in the season. On Google Earth is looks like one can cross the first channel then walk up the pebble flat of the new island?

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