Last month (February 16th 2020) we were lucky enough to hike Prairie Mountain in winter. As an avid summer hiker, winter hiking is new to me, and this trail was perfect to get accustomed to winter trails. It’s a safe trail and I’d highly recommend it.
The trail was moderately busy and we started it a touch later in the morning. To do this hike in winter, you’ll need ice grippers, yaktrax, or ice spikes. The beginning of the trail is extremely icy, but this is only at the beginning for a brief amount of time.
The hike is located in Elbow falls and Kananaskis Country in Alberta. The trail head is semi-hard to find after your cross the road gates.
As you can see, the views and scenery are absolutely beautiful. The mountains all have white caps as it’s the middle of winter.
Earlier this month, we decided to hike and climb Grotto Mountain. Grotto Mountain is just outside of Canmore, Alberta, with it’s trail head starting right by the Alpine club. This was my 3rd time doing the hike, and 1st for my friend. This was however the first time I’ve done the complete loop, ascending the ACC route, and descending the hard route.
While we completed the loop in a clockwise manner, I highly recommend against this. From the summit down, it was extremely difficult to find the trail, even with a downloaded map and GPS. Not only will you get lost, but it’s also incredibly difficult (probably one of the most difficult descents I’ve done simply because I kept slipping).
I’d highly recommend doing the loop in a counter-clockwise method. While this trail is “safe”, it is difficult and challenging requiring lots of stamina and cardio work. Things can get a little risky on the hard route.
Grotto Mountain is an ascent up to an altitude of around 2,870m (9416ft), with beautiful views of Canmore, Alberta and other mountains. I completed this trek with my usual hiking buddy Elisha!
And of course, below is a picture of the mountain from Canmore, Alberta. The summit is actually the peak/summit on the right side of the mountain, the left is the lower fake summit.
As I mentioned above, it’s very challenging even having done it a few times before. The ACC route is a nice long slow climb and descent, while the hard route is pretty much straight up and down.
Along the hard route we did see some wild life like mountain goats, but they stayed far away. I’ve never seen bears on this hike, however I believe there may be a risk at the bottom, as well as up to the point of the top of the tree line.
Grotto Mountain Hike Pictures
Stay safe, be bear aware, and always make sure you always do hikes like this with a friend!
Sunday (July 14th, 2019) we had the opportunity to hike King Creek Ridge. I’d considering this hike a moderate hike, very steep, and can be completed in a short amount of time. Taking the traditional route to the summit, it took us around just under an hour. This hike is located in Kananaskis Country, and there is no cell reception anywhere on the trail.
There are other trails (and alternate trails) along this path. I do not recommend taking these or attempting these. Please read below to find out why.
King Creek Ridge is a steep ascent to an altitude of around 2,400m (7,874ft), so it’ll require some cardio. I completed this hike with my friend Elisha, and her step-dad Tim!
On this hike, we met a nice group of other hikers who mentioned that they read in a book (that was 15 years old), about a loop on this trail. Once at the summit, they planned to go down the Mount Hood route to complete the loop. Using the map I had downloaded to my mobile, I actually had a copy of the Mount Hood route, so we figured we’d attempt it as well.
Mount Hood Route Detour
IMPORTANT: DO NOT ATTEMPT THE MOUNT HOOD ROUTE! IT IS AN OLD ROUTE AND THERE IS NO VISIBLE TRAIL. IT’S FULL OF DENSE BUSH, LIMITED VISIBILITY, AND HAS WILDLIFE (BEARS).
Once we had our time at the summit and relaxed (we flew up there pretty quick), we decided to try and locate the path down to the valley to complete the Mount Hood route. We located a small channel that was very steep and full of loose rocks (extremely dangerous). After navigating down, we noticed that an avalanche or weather related incident had damaged the path and it was simply a cliff. We proceeded to find a different way to go down in to the valley after doing a big of climbing down.
After the dangerous part, we found a steep path down (shown above) that we used to get in to the valley. Unfortunately this was short lived. Once getting in to the valley, we approached bush that was ~5 ft high, and numerous places to be ambushed by bears. We had to use boulders to throw in to the bushes ahead to make sure there were no bears further up (also using regular bursts of the air horn).
Finally once we made it to the creek, we realized using the GPS that the Mount Hood Route was extremely old and grown over. There was no visible trail for Mount Hood Route. We continued along the creek (walking in/over it) for some time until it became so difficult and dangerous that we decided we had to turn around and go back.
The hike/climb back up to the summit of the King Creek Ridge hike was grueling. It was one of the steepest hikes I’ve done, and finished with sections that we actually had to climb (using our hands) to get back to the King Creek Ridge summit.
Back on to King Creek Ridge
So the detour, while extremely dangerous and unnerving, actually made the hike as long as we had originally wanted it, and as fun as we had hoped, so it turned out pretty good (after we realized we weren’t going to be stuck in the valley all night, lol).
We finally descended down the way we had originally came up, and all in all the day turned out to be amazing! The hiking trail actually was extremely busy later on in the afternoon by the time we went down.
King Creek Ridge Hike Pictures
Below are pictures from the hike, please click to enter the attachment page, and then click again to enlarge. The below are low quality thumbnails, when you click on the image it will open the high-resolution image.
Stay safe, be bear aware, and always verify trails exist before you head out on to them!
Last week (July 3rd, 2019), I hiked and climbed Mount Lawrence Grassi with my friend Elisha. It was a very aggressive hike, ascending very quickly to an altitude of 2,685 meters (8,809 feet).
It took us around 7 hours and 45 minutes, with a total moving time of 4 hours and 43 minutes. We completed a total elevation gain of 1,177m. My cardio has been horrible this year as I’ve been focusing on strength training so I slowed us down a little bit.
Picture gallery is below of the hike.
I’d only recommend this hike only for advanced hikers as the last 100 feet can be extremely dangerous (risk of slipping, sliding off cliff on both sides). Cell phone reception (for emergencies) is available for most of the hike.
We’ve had issues with weather this year, but fortunately for us we chose the perfect day. It was a bit chilly at the top, but it turned out perfectly! The views from the summit were amazing!
Other than the sketchy 100ft at the top, the only other issue we had was a bear encounter on the way back to the vehicle. Once we got back to the bottom of the mountain, starting our 2km walk to the vehicle, we crossed paths with a black bear. We immediately prepped our bear counter-measures (we always carry bear mace, bear bangers, air horn, etc), however two chirps of the air horn caused it to retreat in to the forest.
Below are pictures from the hike, please click to enlarge. The below are low quality thumbnails, when you click on the image it will open the high-resolution image.
The best photos are at the end of the album when we reached the summit!
Stay safe and be bear aware!
Privacy & Cookies Policy