Prairie Mountain hike in Kananaskis

I wanted to go on a hike last weekend to help ready my legs for the big walk into the Bugaboos Provincial Park to do some climbing and mountaineering. The forecast was for lunchtime thunder showers, so I couldn’t go on a really long solo hike in case those who predict the weather had it right.

Other considerations for destination choice were a trail where a good number of hikers would be on it (after my earlier bear-like squirrel encounter, I was a bit wary of going solo into a deserted area), and it had to be a hike without a lot of cross roads or intersections because I admittedly am easily turned around. Although that may be partly due to me not paying close attention because Paul always knows exactly where we are…so I don’t have to.

So based on these parameters, friends recommended a hike called Prairie Mountain in Kananskis country, about 15 minutes out of Bragg Creek.

This is a scenic and short, but kind of steep 1/2 day hike. Length of hike was 7.2 km return with an elevation gain of 695 meters. It’s located on Hwy 66, just west of the Elbow Falls car park. Good direction and trail information can be found here, but basically you park at the Beaver Lodge car park on Hwy 66, then cross the highway, head north over the bridge and creek, and then take the immediate left fork going steeply uphill.

On the drive out, I passed by the Tsuu T’ina Annual Rodeo and Pow Wow, which was just getting underway. Looked like it would have been a lot of fun to check out, but it will have to wait until my next visit.

A bit further on I had to stop for some cows that were crossing the highway. They seemed to have good road sense–waiting for me to stop completely before they ventured out.

The hike started out with a steepish rooty and rocky incline, then leveled out for a bit. Elevation gain was pretty quick, as promised, and there were plenty of wildflowers along the bottom 2/3 of the trail to keep me amused.

For the most part, I had the trail to myself, except for early risers that were heading down as I headed up.

After a peaceful lunch at the summit (home-made banana bread slathered with peanut butter–a new favourite), I was cooling down, so it was time to hit the trail again. I lurched down the steep trail, leaning heavily on my walking poles to try to take some of the pressure off of my unhappy knees…none too graceful, but what goes up must come down…

On the way down, I passed dozens of people and their dogs coming up the track. I had timed my hike perfectly to avoid the crowds. And the thunder showers never materialized, so I puttered my way down, stopping to take a few more photos along the way. Very peaceful day!

Just got back from 3 gorgeous days in the Bugaboo Provincial Park. Been on my to-do list for at least a decade; so happy to have had perfect weather for it! More on that amazing trip a bit later on.

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2 thoughts on “Prairie Mountain hike in Kananaskis

  1. Like the sound of that walk ….. in direct contrast I and daughter Sal will be conquering Mt Gillen tomorrow, just out of Alice Springs – no wildflowers or greenery here at the moment. Look forward to the next report.
    Cheers, Greg

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