Trip Reports

The outdoor community (including me!) would love to know where you've been lately and how it was! Please leave a comment below sharing ALBERTA trail conditions and feel free to share a link to your photo album or related blog post. Thanks for your help!!


For parks' trail reports, please see:


76 comments :

BRAGG CREEK AREA: Hwy 66 past the winter gate was in good condition for biking on Easter Sunday - totally dry! There were snowy and muddy patches at Beaver Flats Campground and Beaver Lodge Trail. Elbow Falls is no longer frozen, but still beautiful - note that the picnic areas were washed away by the 2013 floods, so if you want to picnic near Elbow Falls/Prairie Mtn, try the campground (until it opens) or Allen Bill.

Grassi Lakes is "pure ice" according to hikers who were just there. Wear microspikes or look for a trail with less tree cover for less ice. Tunnel Mountain in Banff is south facing and is a nice hike right now!

HA LING is also icy - microspikes required.
PRAIRIE MOUNTAIN in good shape with just some snow and ice at the top.
GRASSI LAKES - super icy, microspikes required
CHESTER LAKE - packed snow and very slippery in sections, spikes recommended

Front range peaks are pretty dry on south facing slopes with lingering ice and snow patches at the top. Heard that Grotto and Lady Mac are in good shape. Anyone been up Yamnuska recently?

C Nelson says Yamnuska has "covering a whole bunch of ice". Not recommended right now! If you're really keen, you can ascend the west side and get to the summit and return the same way (I did this last March),but it still might be sketchy.

Long Prairie Ridge & the south leg of Long Prairie Loop (Sandy McNabb area). The top section along the ridge is snow free & dry. Beautiful views too. Bottom section is muddy, wet, & boggy. I would suggest doing an out & back along the ridge instead of the loop. Trail is also suitable for a double chariot. 30.3.16

Fenland Trail (Banff NP) is a combination of dry trail, ice, & mud. Icy sections are short and infrequent enough that you can get through them without needing ice traction devices. 31.3.16

Barrier lake fire lookout in good shape as of March 27th. Microspikes recommended for top half but should clear up quickly. Other than icy areas it's pretty dry overall, a great shoulder season hike.

Rode 66 from Station Flats to the end this morning, perfect conditions. A lot of traffic before the gate, use caution if cycling on the open road.

Bill Milne Trail Update (Apr 2): Watch out for snow patches from Kovach Pond to 1st bridge (app. 600 m) and construction about 1 km before Mt Kidd Campground. There was a gate across the path and no detour. :( We were able to go around the gate (just before the big bridge) and then rode on the side of the road for 1.2 km. Had an ice cream at Mt Kidd campground, then got back on the bike path to Wedge Pond.The last section from Mt Kidd to Wedge had a lot of packed snow on it, but was still rideable (little kids may have trouble). I think by next weekend, if this warm weather continues, the trail will be in great shape, but check re trail closures before heading out in case there is still construction going on near Mt Kidd so you can avoid riding on the side of the highway.

PLPP: Still a lot of snow on trails in the trees but Hwy 40 south of the winter barrier is clear of snow for biking.

Flowing water trail was snow/ice free on April 1st. A few spots were very slightly muddy.

In regards to the Bill Milne Trail. Saw this message on Alberta Parks Facebook page earlier this week.

Construction Closure - Bill Milne Trail by Evan -Thomas Creek
Posted: April 01, 2016 @ 10:51 AM

Please be advised that due to construction on the Evan Thomas Creek the Bill Milne Trail is closed in this area. Construction will continue until further notice.

Heard that Lady MacDonald and Wasootch Ridge are in good shape and doable without microspikes. Heart Mountain is good on the scramble but has lots of snow on the horseshoe still.

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Paskapoo Slopes area is very dry. There are damp spots close to the creeks/streams, but otherwise it's in great shape overall.

Ha Ling Peak is still very icy! Don't attempt without microspikes (even then it sounds sketchy)!

Conditions on Prairieview Trail are good! Some ice near the top of you carry on to Barrier Fire Lookout and/or Jewell Pass.

Heart, Yamnuska and Loder are good to go! No spikes necessary!! Thanks Alberta Adventure Girls and Scrambling in the Canadian Rockies for the updates!

Hoodoos Trail in Banff is almost completely ice free! Enjoy the views without the crowds (it's pretty busy in the summer)!

Wasootch Ridge Summit - hiked to the summit, trail was mainly free of snow and ice and what was there was easily navigated. Great hike, long was back to the car from the summit!

TUNNEL MOUNTAIN, BANFF - No ice on the trail! A few muddy parts though.

Hoodoos now completely dry and yes, best time to go, very few people. Also did the Fenland trail, wet in a few spots but should be completely dry within a week.

Biked Hwy 66 (Bragg Creek) from Elbow Falls to Little Elbow Campground yesterday. Dry, no snow/ice, few cow patties. ;) The trail around Forget-me-not pond is very muddy, so wait a while before hiking/picnicking there. A tree has fallen across a bridge at forget me not too - I will notify Alberta Parks.

Bow Valley Mountain Bike Alliance says 90% of the Tunnel Mountain mountain biking trails are good to go with respect to ice and mud! Still a few downed trees that need to be taken care of, so use caution.

Marsh Loop (Banff NP) is mainly dry. One icy section along the paved path just down the hill from the Cave & Basin. Too bad it's also a horse trail, which makes it a bit stinky. It's a vey scenic walk.

HA LING PEAK T. Mass says "Lower 2/3 of the trail is clear of ice! Followed by a relatively short icy section that is totally doable with ice trekkers after which the trail is clear again all the way up."

April 9 Nicole T says "Prairie View/Barrier Lake - no snow, no spikes needed. Some ice/mud close to top but you can get around it. Hikers say the way down through jewel pass is still a bit icy but can be done without spikes. " (Thanks Nicole! I will check and see what is wrong with my commenting system. Your report showed up in my email but not on the blog.)

"BANFF LEGACY TRAIL: The trail has been swept." Parks Canada - Banff

Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park is snow free!

New snow on highway 40! The majority of the hwy past the winter gates is snow-free, but there's snow at Highwood Pass!

YAMNUSKA - K Brown says "Just one slick part after the chains!" Best to pack microspikes!

Grassi Lakes is good to go! No ice, snow, or mud!

Robin Z says Canmore area hikes, Fullerton Loop and Diamond T are dry! Thanks!

Jake F says Grizzly Peak has no unavoidable snow. He did see a grizzly there, so as always in bear country, make some noise!

Lake Louise still has a lot of snow! Snowshoes/ice cleats recommended for the hike to Mirror Lake - don't go further than that as it's avalanche terrain.

Hiked Baldy Pass Trail on May 1. Trail was bone dry almost to the pass, with only a few damp spots to speak of. Trail was free of snow & ice the entire way.

WEST WIND PASS was dry all the way to the pass on May 1st. Hikers coming down from WINDTOWER said there was some snow near the top, but it was mostly avoidable, and there was no ice.

BOUNDARY RIDGE and MIDNIGHT PEAK look dry. Thanks Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies FB group.

CHESTER LAKE: There is an annual seasonal closure of Chester Lake Trail from May 1 until June 29.

HA LING PEAK - Finally ice free as of Friday, May 6! GRASSI LAKES - Difficult route is ice free as of May 7! :)

Be sure to check parks' advisories before heading out! YAMNUSKA TRAILS CLOSED MAY 11 due to blasting at the quarry. BILL MILNE BIKE PATH CLOSED NEAR KOVACH POND AND BETWEEN KAN. RIVER AND CENTENNIAL DR until further notice due to carnivores feeding on a carcass. http://www.albertaparks.ca/kananaskis-country/advisories-public-safety/advisory/kovach-pond-day-use-area-and-a-section-of-bill-milne-trail/

Avoid Opal Ridge South for now! The conservation officer says it's grizzly mating season and 2 grizzlies were spotted there recently. Source: Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies Facebook group

MOUNT BLACK PRINCE CIRQUE: The lower half is snow-free with muddy sections, but the upper half has a few inches to foot and a half of snow. Expect to get your feet wet and muddy (keep extra footwear in the car if you don't have waterproof boots), but with the warm temps, it wasn't icy, so we could still make good time. :)

PETER LOUGHEED PROV PARK PAVED BIKE TRAIL: The bike trails are in GREAT shape! No ice or snow at all! LOWER LAKE INTERPRETIVE TRAIL (Hiking trail, no bikes): is also in great shape. No snow, but wet in some shaded areas.

Bertha Lake hike from Waterton in good shape, I hiked it May 14 after the latest snowfall but the trail was still very good. Lake is still frozen and knee deep snow around the lake. Lots of bear sign lower on the trail.

Sources say RAWSON LAKE is good to go (I found out the bridge has been rebuilt at Sarrail Falls too)! :) I would not attempt the ridge right now as there were wet avalanches coming down on the far side of the lake.

BILL MILNE TRAIL is open again. Peter Lougheed paved trail was great last weekend (May long) - no snow - but there are several bear advisories in the area (Boulton Creek, Upper Lake, and Interlakes campground) so use caution if you're on the trails and make lots of noise.

If biking Hwy 40 in Kananaskis, please note there is a grizzly closure between Elpoca and Highwood Meadows so you should bike from the Longview side instead.

MIDNIGHT PEAK, MOUNT BALDY and WASOOTCH are dry!

Heart Creek is closed until further notice as there is a Mama Bear and 2 cubs in the area.

There's an aggressive spruce grouse near Elkwood Amphitheatre at Elkwood Campground. It attacked 2 groups of people on July 3rd (we spoke with them).

PTARMIGAN CIRQUE: glacial lilies are done, but there are still pink Indian paintbrush, purple asters and some white flowers as well as forget-me-nots. Be advised we saw a lot of bear diggings just off the trail.

LOWER LAKE TRAIL, PLPP - 2 piles of fresh bear scat on the trail on July 2nd. Be bear aware!

SUNSHINE MEADOWS - Flowers are almost done, but you can take the gondola up now (instead of the bus) on certain days of the week. Makes for a pleasant excursion!

PETER LOUGHEED PROV PARK - The PLPP bike path and Bill Milne Trails are currently closed to prevent cyclists from startling bears feeding on berries. Many other closures and advisories so check before heading out.

Camped at Etherington Creek and hiked to Picklejar Lakes and Elbow Lakes on the August long weekend. Picklejar had some muddy sections from all the rain, but was otherwise in pretty good condition. We made it to the 3rd lake and caught lots of little cutthroat trout (C&R). Fun day!

WRITING ON STONE PROV PARK - there's currently a high level of fecal coliform bacteria in the water so DO NOT go wading or floating. :(

Sunrise Hill (Elbow Valley), Grassi Lakes, Heart Creek, and Prairieview and dry. Just a bit of snow at Barrier Lake Fire Lookout as of Nov 12.

Ha Ling Peak was icy, so ice cleats recommended. I would expect the same for EEOR (East End of Rundle).

Most trails got a bit of snow over the weekend that got packed down. What I'm seeing from Facebook groups is that people are able to hike in boots on most trails at lower elevations but if it warms up, sections will get icy, so it would be a good idea to carry ice cleats/microspikes.

ELBOW LAKE had packed snow on the trail Nov 19-20. We were able to hike up without ice cleats or snowshoes. Avoid walking on the lake as there are sections of very thin ice (our hiking pole cracked the ice and the water was over 1 m deep near the island).

FORGETMENOT POND also has some snow on the trail but is hikeable. (Nov 20)

RUMMEL LAKE has packed snow on the trail. (Nov 21)

BOOM LAKE has packed snow on the trail. (Nov 20)

December 20 Lake Louise Tramline to Village. Skier tracks to Moraine Lake Road then good tracks all the way down. Please note that Bow River Loop is closed from Station Restaurant to Village. We took a detour walk to Laggan's for treats as promised so kids were happy.

December 20 Nordic Centre this morning 8:00 to 9:30 Banff Trail to Meadow was excellent but with the wind warning you can expect needles on the fresh groom and tracks in some section. Glad I skated. It is so nice in the lodge this week as there are not as many people.

JOHNSTON CANYON, BANFF - Packed snow to Lower Falls. The slope down to the Lower Falls lookout and the little cave are extremely icy so use extreme caution. Ice cleats/spikes recommended. Beyond Lower Falls, spikes/cleats required.

Canmore Nordic Centre have more trails open this morning so I got off Banff Trail and skied Get Down and other killer trails. Thought I was having a heart attack when I got to the top. No wind to speak of this morning despite Wind Warning from weather people.

TROLL FALLS - Feb 17 - Very icy for most of the way; ice cleats recommended.

STONEY TRAIL - Feb 17 - Muddy with large puddles. Fun for the kids, but wear rain gear and rubber boots.

POCATERRA/COME ALONG/ROLLY ROAD XC SKI- Feb 18 - Amazing conditions! Some pine needles due to wind, but they should be covered up with the new snow that fell on Sunday. Grooming was pristine.

ELKWOOD LOOP SNOWSHOE - Feb 19 - Packed snow, but still lots of it. Kids enjoyed snowshoeing off trail (they could float on the hard crust; my husband and I sank in about a foot). The pond and lake were starting to melt on the edges; STAY OFF THE ICE until we get more consistent cold weather.

BOWNESS LAGOON SKATING - Feb 20 - The main rink is in great shape; the river part is bumpy at the start and middle. Worst part is getting onto the ice (saw several people fall) and right before the underpass. There's one rough section near the start of the "river" skating section that has an orange gate on it. Go around to avoid large holes in the ice.

GRASSI LAKES - Feb 19 - Icy for most of the way; ice cleats recommended. Stay off the "difficult" trail (ice flows).

JOHNSON LAKE - Feb 19 - Packed snow and muddy sections on sunny side. May be icy in the shade in mornings/late afternoons as it cools down this week. Ice cleats recommended (but not required on Family Day Long Weekend).

GROTTO CANYON - Feb 20 - Icy on the approach to the canyon and in the canyon. Ice cleats recommended (microspikes worked the best but the youngest did ok with Yaktrax). The ice has been getting slushy in sunny areas and people were breaking through the ice in some places. Prepare to get wet.

LOWER LAKE TRAIL - March 4 - Snow is packed so trail is good for hiking or snowshoeing.

BLUEBERRY HILL SNOWSHOE TRAIL - March 4 - LOTS of fresh snow and no one was on it today so it should be amazing tomorrow!!

ELK PASS, PATTERSON, HYDROLINE, LOOKOUT, WHISKEYJACK, MORAINE XC SKI TRAILS, PLPP - Mar 4 - Skier set tracks; I was the 2nd one out on Elk Pass and had to break trail on Patterson and Lookout. Hard going, but totally worth it. I used VR40 (Swix Blue extra) and was totally high heeling it so I scraped it all off at Lookout so I could ski down the powder. My light touring skis were perfect for today!! Saw a group of snowshoers on the trail who were not supposed to be there - they walked all over the trail, so hopefully the snow doesn't harden in the night as that would be dangerous for descending skiers. Note to snowshoers: Skiers reach speeds in excess of 50 kph down this hill and it is quite narrow, so this is why it's a ski trail only. Try the nice Blueberry Hill snowshoe trail instead! :)

RIBBON CREEK SNOWSHOE TRAIL - March 5 - The Kananaskis Village area got 30 cm of fluffy fresh snow on Saturday!! The trees had so much snow on them, I felt like I was in Lake Louise. :) Beautiful day!!

TERRACE & KOVACH XC SKI TRAILS - March 5 - These trails were just trackset on the 4th so they were in great shape but a bit slow due to some fresh snow that fell throughout the day on the 5th. Skating lane was extremely slow, so my husband double poled a lot in the track.

CANMORE NORDIC CENTRE - MARCH 11

Banff Trail, Banff Loop, Olympic: in great shape!
Bruin: groomed, but soft, so slow going
King of Sweden: super fast tracks with icy sections - take it easy on the descent!

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