In the Kananaskis Village/Ribbon Creek area there are three established half-day snowshoe loops: the two Village Loops from the village and Troll Falls loop from Stoney Trail parking lot. Unlisted is another easy half day trail that is accessible from either Ribbon Creek parking lot or Nakiska parking lot. It’s a little longer than the others at 4.7 return (if you do the loop) with a height gain of about 220 m (770 ft) to a rather fine viewpoint at Mine Scar. It’s a good loop to do right now because Coal Mine ski trail is not being groomed this season because of flood damage, and so has become the domain of the snowshoer and winter walker. I admit we walked it (carrying snowshoes in case) just one day before 24 cm of snow fell on Jan 3rd.
From Ribbon Creek parking lot climb up Hidden trail for 370 m to a junction with signpost. Alternately, start from Nakiska Parking lot. Turn first left off the Nakiska access road and follow the road to the far end at a blue number 4 sign. Park near here. Just before the sign, a 10 m-long trail leads through to Hidden trail. Turn left and descend 360 m to the same junction.
Turn left (or right) onto Coal Mine ski trail, alias Mt. Allan Centennial Trail in summer. Before long the trail is forced to one side or of the other of a ditch (8 ft. deep in places) that was eroded out down the middle of the trail during the June floods. The erosion ends before the next T-junction with signpost, where you have a choice of routes. The narrower Mt. Allan Centennial trail heads left up a hill. We kept right and walked up Coal Mine (alias Barclay) past the metal clad hut and on up to the T-junction with the original access road to the strip mine. Here you turn left and walk a long, flat section, detouring around a fallen tree and crossing the Mt. Allan trail en route to road’s end at Mine Scar. To get the view climb onto the open side slope, partly grassy, with a howling wind, when we were there.
We returned via the Mt Allan Centennial trail which is slightly shorter, slightly steeper and more enjoyable. When Coal Mine is once more in operation as a ski trail, this will be the snowshoer’s route of choice. Passing an assortment of other old roads in the area some of which were old ski trails, made me wonder if they could be conscripted into a snowshoe network. Some are filling in, but others are in good nick.