As mentioned on the previous blog there are two new snowshoe/winter walking/fat tire biking trails leaving Ribbon Creek parking lot. The one described here is a 5.3 km loop taking in the great viewpoint at Mine Scar meadow — the reclaimed Ribbon Creek strip mine/underground coal mine that operated between 1947 and 1952. The loop is groomed on a regular basis and well signed with maps and red snowshoe signs at junctions.
From the kiosk on the north side of the parking lot head out on Hidden ski trail, soon transferring to the Hidden snowshoe trail on the east side of the little creek. At the T-junction with Skogan Pass trail turn left and cross the dip (creek) to the 4-way with Hidden trail. Go straight onto Coal Mine/Ribbon Creek ski trail/Centennial trail — the start of a long uphill climb on old roads, the gradient always easy unless you decide to flog up the upper part of the Centennial trail. Going anti-clockwise, turn right in 600 m onto Coal Mine and wind uphill past the metal-clad hut to join the flat and wide traversing road called Coal Mine that was once driven by trucks headed for the mine. (Nowadays if you follow it to the right you end up on Nakiska ski hill.)
Bear left. In a very short distance cross a gully and come to where Coal Mine Road splits into three, each road going to a different level of the mine scar. Go left on the lowest of the roads. After intersecting the Centennial trail, the old road heads slightly downhill to an X junction with your return trail. Go straight on the still descending trail that sweeps around the bottom of the meadow, then climbs up it a way to a viewpoint of the Kananaskis Valley and surrounding mountains. Could be windy and if the Chinook is raging all the mountains west of Mount Kidd will be socked in. Far too soon the trail re-enters trees and descends to the X junction, having done a figure of eight.
Descend the narrower Mine Meadow road that diagonals across the hillside, near the end cutting through a bit of bush to join Centennial trail below the steep bit. Turn right and follow Centennial trail down to the Ribbon Creek ski trail. You know the junction — the one with the map facing away from the trail. Turn left and at Coal Mine junction keep right and return the same way you came back to the parking lot.
Start: Upper Ribbon Creek parking lot at the north side kiosk. Distance: 5.3 km. Height gain: 270 m (890 ft.)