On a sunny afternoon in mid March we finally got around to snowshoeing the Old Mill Road and Kananaskis Integrated Forest interpretive trail (the KIFIT) as a loop. It seems such an obvious snowshoe loop and the views are great — you’re not looking at trees the whole time. But how was the snow holding up in the cutblocks?
We started from Hwy. 68 on the west side of the highway bridge and following tracks, plodded up the slope to the start of the track leading to Barrier Lake Field Station. The interpretive trail takes off from the second interpretive sign, but much to our surprise the trail was unbroken. So on we went to the Old Mill Road which has seen a lot of traffic. On snowshoes it’s an enjoyable winding climb to the top junction of the interpretive trail in a cutblock. From this direction there is no new sign pointing to the interpretive trail, just the old hiking sign on Old Mill Road.
The snow on the upper half of the interpretive trail in the cutblocks was retreating fast, and here and there we padded along on dirt and gravel. Arriving at the first benches and interpretive signs, which I had not seen before, I was disappointed to find the signs very generalized and a little preachy, i.e don’t pick the flowers. It was only lower down at Barrier Lake viewpoint that there was a sign specific to this trail telling what you were looking at — and also what you weren’t! What’s all this about the dog on Yam?
Lower down in the trees, the snow depth increased and it was deep stepping all the way back to the track we started out on.
Overall comment on the KIFIT: As expected, this trail needs to be packed down early in the season. The alternative is to wait 20 years for the trees and shrubs to grow up. Distance 5.9 km from where we parked. If starting from Lusk Creek parking lot add on 200 m.
We drove back to Calgary via Hwy. 68, so we could look at the south facing slopes rising from Deadman’s Gulch. Usually they are available for hiking in March, but not this year. Need another few weeks yet before the snow melts off. Still snow on Deer Ridge access trail.