Prairie Mountain At a Glance
Time: Allow 4-5 hours (5-6 hours if hiking with small children)
Trailhead: There is no sign marking the trailhead. See below for details.
Directions from Bragg Creek: Take Hwy 22 South. At the 3-way intersection, turn right onto Hwy 66. Continue on Hwy 66 for 18 kilometres. Elbow Falls parking lot will be on your left. If the winter gate is open, continue on for half a kilometre and park at Beaver Lodge on the left.
Parking: Beaver Lodge (When the winter gate on Hwy 66 is closed, park at Elbow Falls).
Finding the Trailhead
The trail up Prairie Mountain is pretty straightforward, except for the trailhead. Three trails converge in one spot, so you must pay pick the right one if you want to get up the mountain!
1 b) From Elbow Falls head west on foot until you reach a small bridge over Prairie Creek (~300 metres past the winter gate). Continue to step 2.
Once you’re on the right trail, the route is straightforward. Keep going up, up, and up! A rock cairn marks the summit and an anonymous hiker has kindly planted a flag there (Thank you!).
|Prairie Mountain – only a few hundred metres to go!|
Hiking Prairie Mountain With Kids
On the day we hiked Prairie Mountain (March 18, 2016), it was covered in a blanket of sparkling snow. Fortunately, early-rising hikers had broken trail, so it was easy to find our way. Slowly and steadily, we made it to the top, using every lookout as a snack spot. I’m glad I packed lots of food because we devoured all of it!
|A good snack spot and viewpoint!|
The hike is a steady climb, but the last bit in the trees (1 km from the top) was the toughest with solid ice beneath the snow. Microspikes for the win! Icy slope behind us, we emerged from the trees and could see our objective: the summit cairn and flag, only 500 metres away. With Calgary’s skyscrapers to the west, Elbow Valley behind us, and mountains all around, the view was beautiful in every direction. We took a summit selfie, enjoyed a well deserved “good job treat” (chocolate bars) and headed back the way we came.
|On the final push to the summit|