I don’t recall such a snowy February here in Calgary…we’ve definitely got good snowshoeing weather at the moment. The thing is, the risk of avalanches in the mountains is massive right now and sticking to safe terrain is crucial. Fullerton Loop, outside of Bragg Creek, fits the bill perfectly: it’s a no-risk snowshoe trek, fast and easy and short (just over 6 kilometres). It’s fairly heavily trafficked right now, so if you don’t have snowshoes, you can simply hike it (and at this very moment, you probably don’t need microspikes).
We headed out there last Sunday morning and it snowed the whole time; in fact, Highway 66 wasn’t even ploughed when we arrived at the trailhead, beating the crowds that arrived later in the day. For us, it was snow…trees…quiet. Blissful.
Don’t let that perfect blue sky fool you. We took a ridiculously cold (and quick!) snowshoe around Wedge Pond in Kananaskis Country on December 23. The snow was blowing from the tops of the peaks and the humidity in the air was literally (and I mean literally) breathtaking. Given the assault by Jack Frost, we weren’t even halfheartedly debating whether or not to cut the trip short…and then my hubby saw two wolves on another part of the trail. They were skittish and promptly vanished, but we suddenly got to worrying a bit (especially when the tree branches were cracking just so), and besides, there was hot chocolate and Irish Cream waiting at home.
I completely understand why this is considered one of the finest snowshoe treks in Kananaskis Country, in the Canadian Rockies. My hubby and I did this one a week ago, and we were fortunate to share this utterly incredible space with a few cheeky gray jays and a moose that gave our salt-flecked truck a helpful (!) scrub. 😉
Well, we couldn’t be faulted for trying. We had the snowshoes with us yesterday, but the trails at West Bragg Creek are only just snow-covered and heavily compacted by foot and fat bike traffic. We had a lovely hike instead, despite the crazy high (but warm!) winds – in this shot, it looks pretty peaceful, actually. You don’t see the snow spiraling up off the ground or the ice crystals that blasted us (or the fact that I could barely stand upright enough to keep the horizon from wobbling in my viewfinder). Gotta love the weather in Alberta!
There wasn’t much snow in some parts of Kananaskis Country this past weekend (judging by the cross-country ski reports from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, that wasn’t the case everywhere, although it sounds like it was pretty icy in spots). My hubby and I could have easily hiked the Forest Ecology Loop near the University of Calgary Biogeoscience Institute but chose to snowshoe it, even though the snow was a little inconsistent. This is just a short, super-easy jaunt (about 2.3 km including the connected Forest Loop) and I believe in the summertime you can pick up a pamphlet from the Barrier Lake Information Centre that offers interpretive information for the trail. This would be a really refreshing cool walk on a hot summer’s day – and I bet there are some great wildflower viewing opportunities in late spring. We also had the unexpected chance to log in some history geocaches and learn about the area, which was the site of a P.O.W. internment camp during World War II.
The past couple of weeks have been a bit too cold (understatement) and mostly too busy (also an understatement) to head out to the mountains and strap on the snowshoes – but here’s a look back at a trip my hubby and I took in January. We’d never been out to Hogarth Lakes before, so the scenery was a real treat for us, even if the skies were grey and snow fell the whole time. It’s a sheltered spot and there was very little wind (yay!), except for a massive gust at one point when we rounded a corner and the trees blasted powdery flakes down on top of us.
Hogarth Lakes is a hiking/snowshoeing loop in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, in Kananaskis, Alberta. We got there by driving south on the Smith-Dorrien Road from Canmore until we reached the Burstall Pass trailhead – the road was in surprisingly good condition that day, considering the snowfall. Even so, we were reassured by the sight of a snowplough as we headed up towards the parking lot. Mountain roads…not to be trifled with!
This short (4.4 km) loop is relatively flat and great for beginners – it would be one families could take their younger children out on, especially if the trail is packed down. We found a bunch of side trails that looked like fun, but we stuck to the main loop, especially after we were warned by a group who had stopped for refreshments that they had noticed some open water on one of the side trails they took. Better not to risk it, especially as we aren’t familiar with the landscape.
Here are a couple of shots of the Spray Lakes Reservoir near Canmore. I took these photos on our trip back into town after snowshoeing. You can see the sun had briefly emerged – of course! 🙂
I would love to see the Lakes in other seasons as well – I’m looking forward to heading out there again. We’ll definitely be back with the snowshoes!
You can find a link to a map of the Hogarth Lakes Loop here.