Kananaskis Country Day Hikes

I just returned from the Grant MacEwan Mountain Club’s summer kick-off camp. We had excellent weather for spring in the Canadian Rockies.

Photo Album:

Owl Camp 2004 Photoset on flickr.com | [piclens-lite-link]

June 4-6, 2004

Camping: Owl Group Campground. This was the GMMC’s spring get together.

Friday, June 4 – Arrive and Set up camp

McConnell RidgeWe arrived at the campground to clear skies at sunset. I quickly grabbed my camera and snapped this shot of McConnell Ridge before setting up my tent for the weekend. The rest of the evening was spent socializing with other club members.

Saturday, June 5 – Prairie View Trail

Barrier Lake from Barrier Dam
Barrier Lake and Barrier Mountain
Lower Kananaskis Valley
The Prairie View
Brian at Prairie View viewpoint
Prairie Anemone
View from the Fire Lookout
Hikers at Jewel Falls
Jewel Falls
Indian Paintbrush
Windswept Barrier Lake

We set off over Barrier Lake dam on a bright sunny morning. I paused to take photos of Barrier Lake, Barrier Mountain and a chipmunk. Then the trail headed steadily up through forest until we reached the site of a former fire lookout. For the next little while, we had views of Barrier Lake, Barrier Mountain and the valley south into the heart of Kananaskis Country. Eventually we reached the Prairie View viewpoint where we stopped to have our lunch and take pictures. There were a few early wildflowers in the area including some Prairie Anemone. After lunch, we hiked up to the location of the current fire lookout before heading back down to the Prairie view viewpoint. From that location, the view encompassed all that was visible from the Prairie View viewpoint, plus views northwest up the Bow Valley towards Canmore.

Then we did something I won’t likely do again – we headed down the back side of the ridge. This led us on a lengthy trek through the forest with little in the way of views or wildflowers. It seems that this is a popular mountain biking route as we were passed by at least 10 mountain bikes. The most notable feature on this whole trek was Jewel falls which still had large chunks of ice in the falls. During the final stretch along Barrier Lake, the wind picked up and tried to blow us off the dam. Just as we got to the cars the rain hit. All in all, it was a good early season warm up hike. In the future, I will hike to and from the viewpoint on the same trail though. It’s not worth the effort to go around through the forest.

Stats: Distance: over 16 km; Elevation Gain: 600m.

Sunday, June 6 – Heart Creek Trail

Heart Mountain
Crossing Heart Creek
Heart Creek
Bridge over Heart Creek
Heart Creek
Hikers in Heart Creek valley

Heart Creek Trail is a very short (3-4 km) trail along a pretty little creek. The first section parallel’s the Trans-Canada Highway, so if you’re seeking peace and quiet, this is not the trail for you. After it turns off and follows the creek, it’s very nice – it seems to be most popular with rock climbers. It’s a good early season excursion if the trails at higher elevation are still snow covered, but not really worth the effort. There’s a waterfall at the end of the trail, but you have to wade into the creek to see it. I would only hike this trail as a family nature hike or if you intended to go rock climbing.

Stats: Distance: approx. 8 km; Elevation Gain: 100m.

Edited: 2006-06-25 – Updated photo album links.
Edited: 2008-02-17 – Updated photo links to Flickr and re-wrote most of the story.

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