Upgrading of Flood Affected Sites in the Elbow Valley

The 2013 flood damaged several day use areas in the Elbow Valley including Allen Bill, Elbow Falls, Cobble Flats, Forgetmenot Pond and Nihahi Trailhead.  Alberta Parks has given notice that they plan to repair and upgrade these facilities starting this fall, with construction continuing through the winter to June 2017.

  • In general, the day-use areas will be cleaned up, new trails constructed where necessary and picnic sites added and refurbished. There are, however, a few significant changes.
  • The Fullerton Trailhead will be moved across the road from Allen Bill Day Use with a gravel parking lot for 90 vehicles. There will be a washroom and garbage facilities near the trailhead kiosk.
  • At Elbow Falls Day Use the picnic sites will be removed and a bus only parking area created. 
  • The access road to Cobble Flats will be repaved and the picnic area capacity increased to help counter the removal of picnic sites at Elbow Falls.
  • Nihahi Trailhead (formally Little Elbow Trailhead) appears to be the new name for the parking lot between Forgetmenot Pond and Little Elbow Campground. The main parking area will be paved and will hold 76 vehicles. A separate equestrian parking area will remain gravel. The access roads to the parking area and the campground will be modified.

Check out the design plans at Elbow Valley Flood Projects Design. You can also view the 2012 Kananaskis Country Provincial Recreation Areas Management Plan.

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5 comments… add one
  • Gillean Daffern Nov 26, 2016, 3:43 pm

    Drove past the new Fullerton parking lot yesterday, the 25th. Looks almost ready for the winter season. Couldn’t get into Cobble Flats as AT were putting in speed bumps along the access road. No change at Nihahi trailhead.

  • Kirsten Phillips Nov 24, 2016, 8:28 am

    Cobble Flats access is now beautifully resurfaced and there is a swanky new little bridge over the creek!

  • Gillean Daffern Oct 30, 2016, 6:17 pm

    I totally agree Alf, that the new Fullerton trailhead makes sense. (Leaves the Allen Bill area for the tourists to wander about on) .And yes, we badly need a connecting trail between it and the Ridgeback/ Bobcat junction so people can makes loops without having to climb over that wretched hill (cutline) on Tom Snow and walk the highway from Station Flats back to Fullerton. There is, of course, one obvious route…

  • Alf Skrastins Oct 29, 2016, 11:22 pm

    The “Fullerton Trailhead” makes a great deal of sense. It is on the correct side of the road to access approximately 150 km of hiking, biking, equestrian, XC ski and snowshoe trails in the Elbow/West Bragg Creek network. Allen Bill was always an inappropriate location for that trailhead.
    This was a recommendation of the 2010 West Bragg Creek All-Season Trails Plan, and it is great to see it finally being implemented. There should still be a connecting trail to link Station Flats/Ridgeback/Bobcat to this parking lot, but that was not in the scope of this design process.
    With respect to Elbow Falls, I find that it is a shame that the very large parking lot, which has lost much of it’s purpose with the removal of picnic sites, is not properly linked to the Powderface Ck, Prairie Ck, Prairie Mountain Trails. It could certainly serve as an overflow trailhead parking lot.
    The Highway 66 winter closure gate, should be relocated just west of the Powderface Creek trailhead… but this was not in the terms of reference of the Elbow Falls PRA planning process.

  • Gillean Daffern Oct 29, 2016, 3:13 pm

    Re Elbow Falls day-use, I think visitors are going to be very upset with the removal of the picnic sites. It has been a traditional picnicking area for decades and trying to persuade people to drive over Rainy Pass by putting in more picnic sites at Cobble Flats may not work. Let’s face it, Cobble Flats just doesn’t have the same appeal as Elbow Falls which is why it is underused.
    I wish the plan had addressed the winter gate problem at Elbow Falls. To alleviate parking problems, it makes sense to move the gate farther west to just beyond the Powderface trailhead, as was considered in the pre-flood K C Provincial Recreation Management plan of 2012. Maybe it is still in the works?

    Re the newly named Nihahi trailhead. Nothing has changed except the name. The site of the parking lot is still galling to people walking out to Nihahi Ridge and Little Elbow, a chance missed to do a little bit of rearranging for the betterment of the public. I.e Why CAN’T people on foot use the big empty parking space at the actual Nihahi/Little Elbow trailhead? Everyone weigh in on this, the pros, the cons and the solutions.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

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